As towns start illuminating their streets with Christmas lights, the big retailers start their mass advertising campaigns and the weather gets colder, I reach for a glass of mulled wine and my favourite Christmas read, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
I believe A Christmas Carol is the perfect Christmas read. It has everything that the reader could want from a Christmas book; snow, the sense of building anticipation and excitement, presents and the original grumpy sod who doesn’t want to get into the spirit of things; Scrooge. In fact, I would argue that Dickens set the structure and theme of many Christmas stories yet to come.
But this isn’t a kitsch Christmas tale. Set in Victorian London, it’s gritty in places, showing the realities of working class life and the ruthless nature of the industrial revolution. Each chapter delivers a cliffhanger, meaning that the narrative retains a good, gripping pace and Dickens’ writing style remains relevant, with a dark humour that reminds me of Nail Gaiman.
But for me, the most important thing about A Christmas Carol is the message it carries. A message that is ever more relevant in our current climate of conflict and consumerism. Dickens reminds us that there are things in this world more important than money, social class and the factors that divide us. He reminds us that Christmas isn’t about buying the most expensive present or being a slave to consumerism. It’s about spending time with family and friends, it’s about remembering those who are less fortunate. It’s focusing on the things that unite us. It’s about humanity.