I Hold Charles Dickens Completely Responsible

Decided to share this again. First published last holiday season.
Since I was a child, I would watch countless adaptations of A Christmas Carol on TV and

in the movies. I’ve seen variations of the character of Scrooge played by the likes of Alec Guinness, Susan Lucci, Jim Carrey, Vanessa Williams, and Scrooge McDuck. I even read the novel way back, when I was into a Reading the Classics Phase, which is a great phase to be in, frankly. We learn from the masters.

In 25-words or less, A Christmas Carol is a story of a mean, hard-hearted person who hates Christmas and all it stands for i.e. love, charity, and warm fuzzy slippers. On that fateful Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge could have just as easily uttered, “Cripes! It was an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. Someone pass me a Tums.” Let’s face it, if antacids had been around then, it might have been a different story. 
But being a genius writer, Dickens has Scrooge find his inner self, thanks to an unending supply of colorful and inventive ghosts who are out to show he doesn’t have to be the rat-fink he thinks himself to be. It is touch and go for awhile, but kindness and mercy win out. Love of fellowman scores a touchdown. And we, the readers, cheer from the sidelines. Yes, you can be a B&BP (bigger and better person) if only you try.
Taking this story to heart since I was around five-years old, I was convinced it was possible to help change a person’s character. Yes, enlighten them as to the good in everyone, help them to see the gentler part of humankind, that which sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, and you’ve got something. Although, according to Lila Hamilton Alvarez, the matriarch of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to accessorize. I should have listened to her.
So, at the ripe old age of 49 and holding, holding, holding, held and strangled, I have come to realize change is not going to happen for some people. They are incapable of change, they don’t see the need, or sadly, some people believe they don’t deserve happiness, so changing for the better is not an option. For them, a troubled, loveless life is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Psych 101, folks.
 But because of Charles Dickens, I saw the hope. I saw the possibility. 
Consequently, I spent decades trying to win one or two people over, loving them just a little bit more than the day before, and to hopefully, make them love me. 
Forget it. You can’t make anybody do anything. What’s the old saying? You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Or was it, you can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think?
But Dickensian lovers, despair not. I am not slamming a man who knew minutely about humanity’s strengths and weaknesses. There is a deeper truth in A Christmas Carol, one I failed to see the first few hundred times of viewing or reading. 
The beauty of the character of Ebenezer Scrooge is not that he changed, but that he wanted to change. He wanted to be a B&BP. It was and is the miracle of inner perspective. And Christmas, after all, is the time of miracles. 
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you. And God bless us, everyone.

19 responses to “I Hold Charles Dickens Completely Responsible”

  1. I grew up the youngest of 5 with parents who were not perfect (thank God), but who got the really important bits down. They taught me how to love and how to be loved. I realized somewhere in my 30s that my core philosophy in life is, "Here I am, you may love me now." Even so, Christmas is a challenge. It just requires more energy than I've got.

    But Heather, I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for writing such wonderful books that give me so many hours of joy reading them. I wish you a long and productive career. I've reached the point of hording your back list so I don't run through them too fast. I have loved every book of yours I've read so far. Unfortunately, I only have one or two left to go. So…. Don't feel obligated to waste too much time celebrating the holidays when you could be chained to your desk creating new material for me to love.

    Seriously, thank you.

  2. Hey, the other Heather! But Heather who, my dear? May i know? Love to meet others with our charming name. A Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday to you and yours!

  3. I tried to wear a T-shirt with my favorite quote from "A Christmas Carol" to a Christmas dinner the other day, but my wife wouldn't let me. It's a beautiful red shirt that says Bah Humbug! on it. Sorry, I think Ebeneezer Scrooge got run over by a reindeer.

  4. Ah yes. The will to change. If people with the ability possessed the will, this world would be a much better place. We can only pray more will come to their senses in the years to come. HG – The Natasha Saga

  5. Cheryl, thanks for leaving a lovely message. I watched the tail end of A Christmas Carol this morning with Reginald Owen, and he had dialog like "I can change, I want to change, let me change." It was just heartwarming. I hope you and your family have a very blessed Christmas, too.

  6. What a lovely sentiment, Heather. A Christmas Carol is a favorite of mine. My oldest daughter just finished reading it and watching the Disney movie for school. We're celebrating Dickens day this week.

    Hope you have a blessed Christmas.

  7. Thank you, Shirley, for thinking my writing is clever! You've made my day. That reminds me of what W.C. Fields is supposed to have put on his tombstone, "I'd rather be here than in Baltimore'. Not so very kind!

  8. Heather, your article is so clever. I didn't mean that as a poem, but I guess it came out that way. Anyway, interesting article.

    BTW, as a former Pittsburgher, I don't appreciate what Dickesns once said about that great city–"Hell with the lid off."

  9. Heather, your writing is so clever. I didn't mean that as a poem, but i guess it is, of sorts. Anyway, I greatly enjoyed the bit about Charles Dickens.

    BTW, as a former Pittsburgher, I don't appreciate what Dickens said about that great city–"Hell with the lid off."

  10. Suzannah and Dawne, two of my favorite graphic artists, and with talent galore! Thanks so much for chiming in. I love the holidays and for the longest time, due to his own familial history, my husband tried to ignore Christmas. He doesn't do it as much now, because I am so enthusiastic about it. Like you say Dawne, it's how we feel about it that matters. Merry Christmas!

  11. A wonderful post, Heather. And so true. My husband somehow lost his humanity this Christmas, but something happened yesterday that restored it. I've been feeling sucked dry trying to be happy and festive for two of us. This is always my favorite time of year. Yesterday, before this happened him, I came to realize that it doesn't matter. It's how I feel and think that matters.

    Merry Christmas, sweetie…and to all a good night. : )