Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Christmas Carol and Other Stories

"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

Every year a different line from Dickens' classic hits home - which is probably why it is and should be a classic. This year it's this one. The dealings of my trade - laryngoscopes and stethoscopes, hospital life, group politics, patients easy and difficult both clinically and personally, exhausting calls, preoccupying stresses and responsibilities - these are the "drops" that need to be put in perspective in the "comprehensive ocean of my business."

This year work has grown increasingly problematic. I needed to be reminded: work is just work. My profession, my calling, is much more than what I've been dealing with at work. In any case, change is on the horizon...but of that, another time.

I took my children to see a local theater production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol tonight. It was quite a nice production. The performers not only acted out the classic tale but also took turns narrating the story using Dickens' own words. Woven into many scenes were lovely arrangements of some favorite carols sung or played by the actors themselves - Good Christian Men Rejoice, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Here We Come A-Wassailing, the Gloucestershire Wassail, and Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, to name just a few.

Year after year this story makes me think Dickens was a total genius and knew all the elements of a near-perfect story: intriguing characters, appealing settings, mystery, conflict, secrets to be revealed, high-stakes trouble to be resolved, a ghost or two, moments that highlight little glimpses of humanity that make us think, "Yes! Exactly!" and of course, a final conversion that moves and brings joy, and can bring insight into ourselves in a transforming way. Dickens reminds us through his timeless character that hope and redemption lie at the heart of Christmas.

Here's another one of my Christmas Lists, then, for the eve of Christmas Eve:

My Favorite Holiday Stories and Books

7. The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell
6. Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes
5. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
4. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, illustrated by P.J. Lynch
2. The Fourth Wise Man as told by Susan Summers, illustrated by Jackie Morris
1. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illusrated by P.J. Lynch


rlbates said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours, T

T. said...

Thanks, Ramona! Hope your holidays are happy as well.