A Christmas Carol

The story of A Christmas Carol is one that most of us in the Western world know fairly well... in fact, I would wager that most children over the age of 7 in the US or UK could give a pretty good breakdown of the general plotpoints with ease. But did we actually read the Charles Dickens classic to gain this knowledge? Or is your understanding of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future the result of a film adaptation? I'm not railing against movie adaptations, as I think A Christmas Carol translates brilliantly to film... to the point where we might all know the plot of this particular story as a result of a movie that puts a twist on the original tale. My personal favorite is The Muppet Christmas Carol, though a close second is Scrooged.

My only previous read of the actual text of A Christmas Carol occurred back in sixth grade. It's a short little novella and was a good introduction to Dickens, as his other tomes seemed daunting to an eleven-year-old. One can easily breeze through A Christmas Carol in a single evening, curled up by the fire with Christmas lights twinkling and presents under the tree. That said, A Christmas Carol really isn't something I would opt to re-read year after year. Here's where those film adaptations become very, very useful. You watch the Muppets, Bill Murray, Ebbie, or Scrooge and you've had your yearly dose.

This year, I noticed an Audible performance of A Christmas Carol done by Tim Curry and it simply had to be purchased and immediately loaded on to my ipod. I listened to it over the course of three days, knitting a Christmas present on my commute to work. I was surprised at how few details slip through the cracks in various performances and I was comforted by how familiar the words were to the point where I could have recited many passages along with Curry. (And some of them were even ones I could do without Gonzo's voice.) The story is timeless and it's hard to imagine the holidays without this particular tale in existence, when in fact it was only published in 1843. This might be a bit blasphemous to say, but it's second only to the actual origin story of Christmas in terms of our association with this time of year. Beyond Christmas, think of the cultural contributions of this novel to our general lexicon. Think of such outstanding quotes as "Mankind was my business," "as solitary as an oyster," "there's more of gravy than of grave about you," and even "'Bah,' said Scrooge. 'Humbug!'" Tim Curry gives a fun reading with voices that are never too ridiculous. I'll admit that I hoped for a little bit more, though I'm not quite sure what. Some flash, a bit more panache, something. I've listened to Curry read the first in the Series of Unfortunate Events and that was pure magic. Here, it was certainly amusing enough but I didn't feel the same delight for which I had hoped. I'm not sure I could reconcile the visual of Tim Curry anywhere in the story but as a voice in your ear, it's a fine way to experience A Christmas Carol for the first time in its original form or as a re-telling that isn't brought out with the rest of the Christmas DVDs and tinsel each year.

So on this Christmas Day, I leave you with this, quoted from memory:

"And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any many alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one!"

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