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Original illustration from "A Christmas Carol", John Leech, 1843

Keeping Christmas

In Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol,  Ebenezer Scrooge declares war on Christmas: “Out upon Merry Christmas! What’s Christmastime to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer. . . . Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”

I first saw A Christmas Carol as a child, at an amateur church production. I still recall sitting bolt upright in the pew when I heard Jacob Marley’s ghost moaning and thumping up the stairs with clanging chains and money boxes dragging along behind him. I loved Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, of course, and the way the play ended, with Scrooge transformed and redeemed. (Best of all, Santa Claus appeared afterward and gave each child a small cardboard container with a string handle—full of chocolate candy.)


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