THE CHRISTMAS BOOKS, Charles Dickens
(finished reading on 24/12/2011)
I love Christmas and last year, by a strange coincidence, I was listening to a phone-in on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour about people’s various Christmas traditions and happened to hear a neighbour call in with one of hers. Her tradition is to read ten pages of A Christmas Carol each night in the last week before Christmas Day, culminating on Christmas Eve. Her mother used to read it to her in this way when she was very young and she had continued the tradition every year ever since (by way of another Christmassy-coincidence, we are neighbours on a street called The Christmas Steps). Hearing this story in this unusual way stuck with me and this year I decided I was going to do it also (thus creating another tradition). I always watch at least one of the various film versions of A Christmas Carol at some point during Christmas, so in addition to it being a nice Christmassy thing to do, I thought it was about time I read the original.
The actual book I picked up is three stories in one volume: A Christmas Carol, The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth. I bought it around the beginning of December so had some extra time and tried to tackle the other two stories, but failed totally because I had forgotten that my one and only other attempt to read Dickens at University (A Tale of Two Cities) ended in failure because I don’t particularly like Dickens. So I had to give up on those, but A Christmas Carol was wonderful and (although admittedly it doesn’t take much), made me feel so very, very Christmassy. I loved it for that. I think that it was probably easier to read because the story is so familiar, but now I have conquered a Dickens by using this as a crutch, I feel I could perhaps now read more Dickens and get to know him better, another thing to thank it for.
Something else it did was to help me enjoy Christmas more, as I’m funny with Christmas, I love it so much that by about six o’clock on Christmas evening I’m already feeling regretful that it’s over and nostalgic for the holiday season just passed. But reading A Christmas Carol and taking the message of ‘keeping Christmas all year round’ to heart, removed that feeling and allowed me to enjoy the whole festive period, not just Christmas Day and the parts before. The final thing I took from this message was to try to be kinder and more feeling all year round. I found myself thinking this season, ‘be nice, it’s Christmas’ and then doing things that I didn’t necessarily want to do because it was a nice and a right thing to do. This is a sentiment I am going to take with me into the next year and beyond. All cheesy, all true.