Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol, is a beloved and enduring holiday classic. My Christmas just wouldn’t feel complete without it. Every year, I watch as many movie versions as I can. I always wanted to take in a theatre production, as well, but somehow never got around to it.
Last year, my birthday being just before Christmas, I decided to visit my daughter and her family for a triple celebration: my landmark birthday, my grandchildren’s baptisms, and the Christmas holidays. My daughter and son-in-law planned a very special treat for my birthday. They took me to Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre for dinner and to see their production of A Christmas Carol. It’s the best birthday present they could have given me!
Why do I love this imaginative and delightful Christmas tale so much? Well, besides being entertaining and enchanting, it also teaches several moral lessons that exemplify the true meaning of Christmas.
Our Conduct Determines Our Destiny. The Ghost of Jacob Marley urges Scrooge to learn from his mistakes to avoid facing a similar destiny. He arranges for three Spirits to visit Scrooge to give him a chance to redeem himself. These Spirits of the Past, Present, and Future force Scrooge to confront his many moral failings. The Spirit of the Future shows him his fate if he doesn’t change. Despairing of this desperate end, Scrooge pleads with the Spirit, “Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”
It’s Never Too Late to Change. The three Spirits offer Scrooge insights into the consequences of his ways and a chance to turn his life around. When the Spirit of the Future shows him what his miserable, miserly life has brought him—a lonely death with no one to mourn his passing and a forlorn grave in a desolate churchyard—he vows to make a fresh start. “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
It’s Better to Give than to Receive. Scrooge is a miserable old miser who counts every penny and despises charity. When two gentlemen ask him to give a Christmas donation for the poor, Scrooge responds, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” When they explain that many of the poor would rather die than go to such places, he responds coldly, “Then they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” By the end of the story, Scrooge repents of his miserliness and opens up his heart and his wallet to give them a generous donation.
Treat Others as You’d Have Them Treat You (The Golden Rule). Scrooge’s behaviour displays disrespect and lack of concern for others. Scrooge mistreats and takes advantage of everyone, especially his faithful clerk, Bob Cratchit. He won’t allow him to burn enough coal to keep the office warm. He even begrudges him time off with his family at Christmas. After witnessing his certain doom, Scrooge is forced to re-examine his selfish ways. He undergoes a change of heart, providing a huge turkey for the Cratchits’ Christmas dinner, giving Bob a raise and promotion, and becoming like a second father to their invalid son, Tiny Tim.
Scrooge learns the moral lessons the Spirits teach and transforms his life. “He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city knew. . . .” He was even better than his word, doing everything he promised and more. And it was said that thereafter Scrooge knew how to keep Christmas well.