Bah humbug…or is it?

A Christmas Carol

I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. --Charles Dickens, December, 1843

Last week, my husband and I went to see a school theater production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

I, like many of you I’m sure, have heard the story read and have seen it played out a thousand times yet I’m always amazed at the timeless lessons learned from Mr. Scrooge and the ghostly creatures that visit him on Christmas Eve.

The story was published in December, 1843 and was met with instant success and critical acclaim. It was almost immediately adapted for the stage and the book has never been out of print. All of this suggests that the poignancy of the story satisfies a yearning for those who encounter it.

Is it nostalgia? Remembering Christmastime as children when your most hoped for gift was found under the tree on Christmas morning? Is it sentimental? Remembering loved ones who touched our lives in significant ways and who are particularly missed at this time of year? Is it hopeful? Remembering past mistakes or hard times and desiring to make things right again? Is it joyful? Remembering how the human spirit can find the best in any situation with happiness, love and laughter?

All of these emotions and more are realized in the story, and for those dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis, treatments, related illnesses and major life decisions these emotions are nearer to the surface–especially during this time of year.

Dickens’ Carol offers light, joy, hope but also images of darkness, despair, sadness and death. It is often said that Scrooge is the embodiment of winter and yet winter is followed by spring and the renewal of life, as we can see in his redemption at the end–and as I have seen in many breast cancer survivors we come in touch with every single day.

However you look at it, I’m sure you’ll agree that the lessons of A Christmas Carol are as true today as they were in the 19th century. A timeless tale that, for me, ushers in the Christmas season with a focus on life, love and the joy of giving.

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