I received an essay on “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens from my nephew, Erik Taylor, enclosed with the Christmas card he sent me. I am publishing it with his permission as a Guest Post on Christmas Day 2013.
For centuries humans have found cause to celebrate during these, the shortest days of the year.
It is to say those humans who live in the Northern Hemisphere. December in the Southern Hemisphere the days are long, often balmy, and to be honest, quite lovely.
Regardless of cultural or spiritual beliefs, humans have found themes of trust and encouragement, when the days will eventually get longer, light will in fact return—hope will be reborn and life will begin anew.
Life in Victorian England was bleak. A disparaging chasm existed between the wealthy and the poor.
Children from impoverished families were often sent to work in places such as the Cornish tin mines where author Charles Dickens visited during the fall of 1843.
With capitalism reigning supreme, Christmas was not widely celebrated.
Touched by the plight of the working children, combined with his own childhood memories of being conscripted to a blacking factory while his father paid debts in prison, Charles Dickens sat down to create a touching novella to inspire hope and compassion during the dark days of December.
Only six weeks after Dickens’ fateful trip to Cornwall, on December 19th 1843, A Christmas Carol was published.
The transformational story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge from greedy capitalist to joy-filled philanthropist caught the Victorian public by storm.
Heralded by critics and loved by all, A Christmas Carol created a renaissance of the Christmas Spirit.
Like Scrooge’s metamorphosis, the people of England began forsaking selfishness and greed, to begin seeking reasons to celebrate and look kindly upon others during the seasonal gloom.
Continuously in Print
A testament to the success of A Christmas Carol is the book has been continuously in print since its initial publishing, making it one of the most endearing stories of all time.
In the past two years I have seen much greed and self-centeredness in our world. I have seen politicians use sly tactics to support corporate interests over the those of their continuants.
I have seen individuals use their personal faith as means of discrimination towards those they find distasteful.
I have also seen progress towards providing recognition of all types of love as well as efforts to provide quality medical care for everyone.
Early in the story of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge’s Nephew Fred states, “There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say, Christmas among the rest.
Fellow Passengers to the Grave
But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to the sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time : a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time : the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent, to open their shut up hearts freely and to think of people below them as if they were really fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe it has done me good, and will do me good ; and I say, God bless it!”
Hope and Reformation
The tale Dickens creates is one of hope and reformation of ones self; to be capable of forgiving the misdeeds of ones own past in order to envision a brighter future.
Until the fateful day when ones name is inscribed upon their stele of life, they can change whom they are and who they can become.
I have learned our differences and unique qualities make being human a truly magnificent and glorious experience.
We have within us the ability to catalyze change for both ourselves and those around us—compassion and acceptance create a beneficial environment for everyone.
Season for Understanding
My wish this season is for understanding. Where we see each other as “fellow passengers to the grave”.
To look beyond the rags of failure and trappings of success and see every individual as someone simply doing the best they can, living life as fully as possible.
All paths lead to the same destination—ultimately meeting at the stone bone yard to equally lay in silence.
As my Hawaiian Grandmother, Aunty Aloha would say to me, “Makamae Mo`opuna, most precious child, because you were born, you will of course die. However, it is what you do in-between the two which is most important.”
Happy Holidays, and bless us, everyone!
Guest Post by
Erik Taylor of Seattle, Washington
Erik Taylor is a writer who is discovering the Pacific North West after living in Hawai`i for 14 years.
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Thank you for the beautiful, thoughtful, and well-written essay, Erik! What a wonderful Christmas present! Merry Christmas to you from Hong Kong!
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