A Christmas Carol

by Jeremy Foster-Fell
(Wolcott, Vermont)

A Christmas Carol, illustration courtesy of Project Gutenberg

A Christmas Carol, illustration courtesy of Project Gutenberg

It was probably the Winter of 1949, which also had had a major snow fall in the North of England, when my father first read Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol to me and my slightly older sister.

It was shortly after the end of World War II and my father and all three uncles had safely returned from North Africa.

Food was still on rationing and required "food stamps" in England (I had yet to see a banana or a pineapple!), and candies ("sweets" to us) and sugar were in very short supply. A goose or a turkey would have been a real treat.

So Ebenezer Scrooge and A Christmas Carol first appeared in my consciousness against a backdrop that had some real connection to the outside world.

My father had a wonderful timbre to his voice and a real talent with words and timing, so the visual (in a pre-video and TV era) was cerebral and powerful.

As I write this I can hear and see as if 60 years have melted away and I am sitting on the floor next to the coal fireplace, listening wide eyed to the next excerpt.

Poor young Bob Cratchit...and I was so scared of the Ghost of Christmas Past. I knew I had better not be a mean person if I was to avoid that ghost in later life!

Words. Our most powerful human tool. They can be used as indelible gifts or vindictive weapons.

I learned the saying in kindergarten, "Sticks and stones can hurt my bones but words will never hurt me." I realize today how off the mark that was.

Broken bones usually heal over time, but harsh words can wound for a lifetime, just as rewarding words can be immortal.

"God bless us, every one," said Tiny Tim.

Jeremy Foster-Fell is the author of The Caterpillar and the Express Train. (He tells about writing and marketing his book on this site.)

Jeremy spends his Christmases Present in Vermont.

Visit our Christmas reading gifts page and our great books for Christmas page, or read what one of our reviewers had to say about A Christmas Carol.

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Feb 07, 2011
Great artwork
by: Joe Giiunta

I love the illustration. There is real personality in both figures.

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