No matter what your nationality or religion, a story written over 100 years ago still teaches us eternal truths.
"A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost-Story of Christmas" by the British author Charles Dickens, was published on December 19, 1843. It had an autobiographical element but also combines various Christmas legends and traditions.
If you call a miserly person "Scrooge", or declare "Bah, humbug!" you are channeling Ebenezer Scrooge, the main character in this story. The character of Tiny Tim, a minor character in the novella, lives on in our collective memories.
In the story, Scrooge, a successful businessman lacking the most basic emotions of humanity such as love or kindness is visited by his dead business partner, Jacob Marley. Marley's ghost has a warning for his former partner - the ghost, who was a lot like Scrooge while alive, has been walking the Earth these past seven years, unable to atone for his sins. It is too late for Marley but it isn't too late for Scrooge. Scrooge, said Marley's ghost, would be visited by several ghosts and given his last chance to develop the best in human qualities.
Three ghosts follow Marley's ghost - the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come, to instruct Scrooge.
At the end of the experience, Scrooge is a changed man.
Here is a quote from the book:
“No space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused”
The book, more commonly known as "A Christmas Carol", was an immediate success, and has never been out of print.
This is the only (or so I read) surviving clip of an adaptation of A Christmas Carol on film, from 1901.
In this 1935 adaptation of a play based on the book and brought to film, Scrooge is played by Sir Seymour Hicks, considered a great man of the British theatre.
In these times we are entering, the story of A Christmas Carol is more important than it has been in years. As Dickens said, so many years ago:
“They are Man's and they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance and this girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.” Some things about our world never change.
But, perhaps, like in the story, there is hope. Scrooge changed for good, and did not return to his old ways. Rather, the book ended like this:
“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man 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!”