A Christmas Carol in 2020…
It Is in Giving that We Get

On Christmas Eve, I was trying to finish my essay about Christmas. I was dead tied. I knew I had to take Ginger out for a short walk and then hit the sack. My body was half-asleep, but my mind was whirling. My mind darted from my litany of Christmases past. As they whirled around in my mind, I thought about Charles Dickens and his novella, A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. Why did Dickens name this short novel with such a long title?

More importantly, why did he write A Christmas Carol in the first place? It seems to me that much of Dickens’ mindset was influenced by financial problems that he faced as a young boy. I knew that he grew up in poverty due to his father’s financial problems. However, there must have been more to the story. So, I googled my question. I discovered that he was having problems making money as a writer. He had several major successes, but Martin Chuzzlewit, his most recent novel, flopped.

Also, I am not sure why Dickens was invited to speak at the Field Lane Ragged School in London, which taught homeless children. Nonetheless, it must have exacerbated the issue of poverty for him even more. Furthermore, England was addressing the impact of the Industrial Revolution upon the British society…especially upon the poor.

From my personal standpoint, my family moving to Mt. Lebanon resulted in my feeling the issue of poverty also when I was young. My father wanted to find the best school system to send enrolled his children. He found the best in the Pittsburgh area, which happened to be the 19th best school system in the States. That was traumatic for me. In addition, Mt. Lebanon was the wealthiest community in Western Pennsylvania. Perhaps, that is why I am attracted to Dickens. I can easily identify with this picture of Dickens pondering the poverty.

Poverty was swirling around in Dickens’ mind.

Prior to 1843 when A Christmas Carol was published, Christmas wasn’t a big deal in all of Christendom. It was a distant second behind Easter and had been since the time of the early church. Dickens was arguably the most transformative writer that moved Christmas to the central Christian holiday.

The reason for Dicken’s poverty related issues and the general indifference to Christmas influenced his to drive to write his novella, A Christmas Carol. He finished it after about of month of work and took it to his publisher. Nonetheless, his publisher wasn’t overwhelmed by the story of Christmas. The publisher reflected the way many viewed Christmas as a not so important issue and demurred from publishing it.

Dickens understood the saying, no pain, no gain. Therefore, he hired an artist to work on drawings for the book and then published A Christmas Carol himself. Just before that Christmas on December 19, 1843, the first reviews of his novella appeared in newspapers hailing it as a masterpiece.

The storyline of A Christmas Carol was about Ebenezer Scrooge. He was a rich miser who had four ghosts visit him on Christmas Eve. Jacob Marley, a former partner of his before he died, visited him along with three other ghosts: the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

This is Marley visiting Scrooge.

In many ways, Dickens novella is reminiscent of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge. Coleridge wrote it a half century before Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. The poem is almost as long as Dickens’ novella. Coleridge’s poem is about an ancient mariner who wasn’t a very caring person. When at sea, an albatross appears and guides the ship through dangerous and icy waters. However, the ancient mariner impulsively shot and killed the albatross for no reason. This senseless killing of a bird resulted in far more perilous times for the ship and its crew. Finally, they managed to survive, but the ancient mariner, like Marley, had to tell everyone he meets about his mistake. In Coleridge’s poem, he tells someone at a wedding. These the last four stanzas of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest
Turned from the bridegroom's door.

He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.

This is where I almost fell asleep. I just didn’t have the energy to finish my article. I was going to end my essay by discussing how Donald the Dumb, our fake president, was like Scrooge, Marley, and the ancient mariner. Nonetheless, I went to bed long after midnight.

To be honest with you, I hardly ever remember any of my dreams. However, last night, I recall this one. Actually, there several dreams short dreams, which were spread over about six hours. I was going to implore someone to read A Christmas Carol to Trump. Perhaps, Trump might see the light and become a 21st century version of changed Ebenezer Scrooge.

I know. No one would buy that wish that Trump could have seen the light. Maybe, I realized that reality late last night. I might have subconsciously known that even if someone did read Dickens’ novella to him, he would have blamed the Chinese, the Democrats, or the Republican Voters Against Trump (RVAT).

This morning, I spent an hour attempting to distill my several short dreams. It finally came to me. Marley, Scrooge, the ancient mariner, and Trump missed the message of Dickens’ story. I believe that A Christmas Carol can be boiled down to a sentence that I came up with several years ago. It is in giving that we get. That was Dickens’ contention. If you wish to acquire something, it will be predicated upon you first giving something. It is as simple as that.

Now, not everybody will buy into my spin on A Christmas Carol. It took Scrooge seeing three ghosts before he saw the light. Had it not been for his near-death experience, he still wouldn’t have bought into the paradox of giving and getting.

Scrooge saw his future in the graveyard.

This video is of A Christmas Carol.