Day 7) G is for Ghost: Choose a Ghost story
I’m not really a ghost person.
Ghost stories aren’t my thing so I tried to figure out what to do and thought about all the books I like, which one could possibly have a ghost in it?
And then it hit me:
I know a book I love that has not one, but four ghosts!
A Christmas Carol: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas by Charles Dickens
So I love this story.
Every year I watch a film version of this book: whether A Flintstones Christmas Carol, A Christmas Carol, Muppet Christmas Carol, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, etc.; I’ve been in plays of it, and of course: I enjoy reading it.
A Christmas Carol was written in the fall of 1843. Originally it didn’t sell well, but became extremely popular through the public readings that Dickens did.
This book also came out at just the right time. Thanks to Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, Christmas culture changed with a whole flurry of new ways to celebrate the holiday, becoming the traditions we currently practice. For instance Christmas trees became something now done in England.
We now see the jolly old Santa Claus, used later in stories and culture.
And Christmas cards became a tradition and were sent out in the penny post.
But not everyone had a nice Christmas. Many had to still work in the factories and poverty was running rampant; very grim indeed.
A lot of historians actually attribute A Christmas Carol as being the first thing to start the ball rolling. It opened peoples’ hearts and more reforms were adopted; such as the Bank Holiday act in 1871, making Christmas an official day of rest. 19 years later, every state in America had adopted the same practice.
Yes like Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Jungle; A Christmas Carol was more than just a novel but changed the very world we live in.
So let’s get started with the review!
“I have endeavoured[sic], in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour[sic] with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.”
Their faithful friend and Servant,
CD. [Charles Dickens]
So the story begins with stating the fact that Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge’s old partner is dead. Without him being dead then we would not have a story.
Marley has been dead for seven years, with Scrooge carrying on the business. Scrooge is a cold-hearted businessman who only cares about money. Everything from appearance, demeanor, and personality is cold, cruel, harsh, and sharp.
No one liked him and all avoided him, as who wants to poke the angry beast?
Scrooge is miserly, and one way he is tightfisted is to keep his door open to make sure that his clerk does’t try to add more coal to their fire. Poor clerk, Robert “Bob” Crachit. It is freezing outside and even colder in the presence of Scrooge.
That evening Scrooge’s nephew Fred comes to call on him. He wants to invite Scrooge to his house for Christmas, but Scrooge refuses. He doesn’t keep Christmas at all and sees no reason to celebrate.
He also pokes at Ned’s “poor” life and wife.
“What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older and not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ’em through a round dozen of months, presented dead against you?”
You know I’ve seen a lot of posts lately by my age group saying the same thing. Christmas isn’t anything special but just having us be a year older, poorer, and unhappier. I think it is horribly sad.
Let’s not Scrooge around, but be Freds instead.
After Fred leaves, wishing Bob a merry Christmas, Scrooge is approached by charity workers. They appeal to Scrooge for help, but he refuses. He thinks the workhouse and poorhouse is substantial (I’m sure that sentiment was shared by many others before reading this novel.) He even goes on to say that if people die because of their poverty, than things would be better as less people on the Earth is best.
Scrooge gives Bob a whole day for Christmas (his question now making sense as I earlier stated that it wasn’t a law to give people Christmas off until 1871), although angry at missing out on the extra work. But even though he is given his day to celebrate, Scrooge warns Bob that he must be in, even earlier the next if he wishes to keep his job.
Scrooge then heads home that night and that’s when things get…a little creepy. As he goes through the foggy streets
The door knocker on his home changes until it becomes the face of Marley!
But then it becomes a knocker again, just a figment of his attention.
But later that night Marley appears. Scrooge tries to convince himself he isn’t real, but the Marley’s ghost is here!
Marley has come to him to warn him. Scrooge sees the chains wrapped around Marley and is astonished. Why does he have such horrible things on him.
“I wear the chain I forged in Life,’ replied the Ghost [Marley]. ‘I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on, of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it…’Or would you know,’ pursued the Ghost, ‘the weight and length of the strong coil you wear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured[sic] on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!”
Scrooge tries to console Marley, that while he didn’t help others he was a good businessman. But that is not what life is all about. As the bible says:
“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25
That love of money separates us in our relationships, as the greed consumes our soul.
“Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. ‘Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business…At this time of the rolling year,’ the specter said, ‘I suffer most: why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed star which led the wise men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”
Marley warns Scrooge that he still has time to change. He is to be given the gift of three spirits He leaves and the air is than filled with ghosts, all those he knew in life and all covered in chains.
The first spirit, The Ghost of Christmas Past, comes a young boy but also an old man.
He has him touch his robe and the two travel back to Scrooge’s boyhood.
Scrooge is at school and alone as everyone else is gone for the Christmas break. As he sits glum and alone, a woman comes in to the room…it is his sister Fanny! He loved his sister dearly, and she him. She has begged her father to bring him home and he has finally agreed. They leave the boarding school to spend a very merry Christmas together.
But Fanny didn’t live in the world long. She died after giving birth to her son Fred.
Later they visit his old boss Fezziwig. Unlike Scrooge, Fezziwig always liked to treat his clerks right; having them stop on Christmas eve and throwing a party for all his employees. It only cost a little, but he understood the true meaning of Christmas. To give.
“He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome: a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up-what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great, as if it cost a fortune.”
Now as you can tell I love the language of this book, the characters, the moral–but I also love how when you read the book you see how the change starts in him so early in the adventure, transforming him at every step. Looking at the young boys, he wishes he was nicer to a boy singing Christmas carols. And seeing how great Fezziwig was, makes him ashamed of his own conduct with Bob.
But then he is taken on and sees the broken engagement of his fiancé, Belle. She breaks it off, as Scrooge no longer cares about her anymore. All he cares about is money.
“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Matthew 16:26
Man, I just think how hard that would be. To give up someone because you know it won’t work, and poor Scrooge. He really missed on a winner.
In the next scene he sees how much he missed out when he sees her, her husband, and the family all gathered in one very happy, merry Christmas bunch.
On the second hour we have the Ghost of Christmas Present. The Ghost of Christmas Present is a giant, jolly and dressed in holly chowing down on Christmas treats.
Scrooge touches his robe and off they journey. It is Christmas morning and many are at work in their shops or readying their homes. Christmas Present has a torch, that when he sees anger, quarrels, or any unhappiness; sprinkles fire from his torch bringing good humor and Christmas cheer.
They go down to the Cratchit house, a family of eight, very poor, but full of Christmas cheer and happiness. They wear threadbare clothes poorly patched: have limited food and call it a feast; thank Scrooge for providing the feast even though he is cruel; and the youngest, Tiny Tim, is crippled yet is proud that in his body he can remind others of the miracles Jesus did and the true reason for the season.
Scrooge becomes invested in the scene before him and little Tiny Tim. When he asks about whether he will live, Christmas Present tells him that looking to the future his crutch is the only thing he can see.
They visit others, and then find themselves at the home of his nephew where he is having a fun Christmas dinner. They have lots of fun laughing, singing, and playing all kinds of games.
“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty founder was a child Himself.”
Scrooge would like to stay there, but that spirit’s time is over and he must return, the new one coming next.
The next is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, truly frightening figure in a black cloak that covers him and silent as the grave.
The first place they go is to a dead man’s home who’s items are stolen by employees in the area. No one liked this man, his funeral had barely anyone and the items stolen went unnoticed. Debtors are happy that he is gone as the next master may be kinder.
They then stop by the Cratchits, who are mourning the death of Tiny Tim.
They stop by his old haunts, but he is not there. The spirit takes him to a graveyard where his tombstone lies. The man they all hated that are thrilled is gone, is him.
He pleads with the spirit for another chance, for time, to be able to be a new person.
Scrooge awakens to find himself home, in his bed. All the adventures having been done in one night and it being Christmas morning.
He decides to begin making amends as soon as possible. First he orders the hugest turkey to send to the Cratchit family; he finds the charity workers from the day before and promises to give them a lot of money; and to top it off goes to his nephew’s house for dinner. They spend a wonderful night together.
The next day he awaits Bob, who comes late to work. At first Scrooge acts angry, like he was going to fire Bob, but then wishes him a Merry Christmas, raises his salary, adds more coal to the fire, and helps all in every way he can.
“He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.”
Scrooge becoming a new person
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“And as Tiny Tim observed,
God Bless Us Every One!”
I love this book. From beginning to end, the characters, the language, the writing, the descriptions-oh. Just a fantastic read!
To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451
For the previous post, go to The Unknown Princess Nevermore
For more on Charles Dickens, go to The Taxman Cometh
For more on ghosts, go to They’re Coming for Me Now…And Then They’ll Come for You: House on Haunted Hill (1959)
For more Cassandra Clare, go to Drug of Choice
For more bible verses, go to Is Love at the Thanksgiving Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?
So I know the book mentions the Christmas carol God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, but I’m not going to talk about that carol as I already reviewed it last year.
So as Queen Victoria adopted her husband’s Christmas traditions, making the tradition of Christmas Trees a global tradition, I decided that is the song I am going to go with.
Except I’m going to go with the traditional German version, O Tannenbaum.
This is an old song and wasn’t originally it wasn’t a Christmas song as Tannenbaum means fir tree and is instead about its symbol of steadfastness and constantcy. However, in 1824 Ernst Anschütz updated the song, changing the words to make it about Christmas; paired at just the right time when, as said before, Christmas trees were added into the culture of Christmas instead of just Germany.
I choose the version by Celtic Woman as I think this group is extremely talented.
For more on Celtic Woman, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen
For more Christmas Carols, go to I Think I Have Found a Means of Conveyance…An Elephant: Around the World in 80 Days