It’s January 2, and I haven’t blogged since Christmas. I hope you had a great holiday season and that your New Year is off to a tremendous start.
It’s not that I didn’t want to blog, it’s just that I didn’t make time for it, if I’m being completely honest. I committed myself to the 2017 holiday season fully; I did almost everything I wanted to do, and most of it revolved around spending time with my family.
Minus the mad rush of finishing up teaching my college classes, scoring students, and reading endless amounts of papers and reflections (which is all great in itself, but it gets a little crazy when you’re pressed for time as the holidays are approaching), December 2017 was a great month. In the holiday spirit since Thanksgiving weekend, my husband and I snuck away to St. Michaels for a weekend and became part of the chaos and fun of Midnight Madness; my girlfriend, her daughter, my daughter and I shopped and ate in Annapolis for its Thursday night Midnight Madness event; I met my college roommate and dear friend for a Christmas lunch; we had a great Christmas supper club feast; our families celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas day together; we finally got to Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park; we snuggled up and watched oodles of Christmas movies; and the Hallmark Channel was the staple on our Comcast lineup during the month of December.
It was, indeed, a wonderful month.
About mid-month, my husband, knowing I wanted to see The Man Who Invented Christmas, which was in theatres and was about Charles Dickens and his writing of A Christmas Carol about Ebenezer Scrooge, took me to a matinee while the kids were at work. If you didn’t get a chance to see the film while it was in theatres, trust me when I tell you that if you ADORE the tale of A Christmas Carol as much as I do (as Dickens is one of my two favorite authors of all time), you will L-O-V-E this movie. It stars Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey and Beauty and The Beast fame) and Christopher Plummer. It’s a look at the six weeks leading up to the finished product of Dickens’s book, and the cast and sets create an alluring story that will keep you fascinated with Dickens as they bring him to life on the big screen.
I so loved Dan Stevens’s portrayal of Charles Dickens, as Dickens wrote my favorite story of all-time, that I ran to the library and checked out Les Standiford’s book of the same name. I devoured this book about Dickens, which is more of a retrospective of Dickens’s life leading up to writing A Christmas Carol and then the history that followed the publication of the book.
It is called The Man Who Invented Christmas for a reason: prior to 1843 England, there was not much in the way of Christmas celebrations. There was no gift-giving, no turkey dinners, feasts, Santas, Christmas trees, elves, and holly and ivy. Christmas, in those days, was barely celebrated; in fact, Easter was a bigger holiday. Dickens’s book brought the idea of charity, kindness, generosity, and being a good person to the forefront of the Victorian era and to the Christmas holiday. Also, thanks to Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert, Christmas trees became popularized, a tradition that came from Germany. Over the ensuing years, Christmas grew into the holiday it is today. But it was Dickens and his incredible tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the three ghosts, and his dead partner, Marley, that helped bring the idea of goodwill to the industrial age and forever moving forward, and the tale continues to mesmerize new generations to this very day.
I think what’s so stunning about A Christmas Carol is its ability to evoke such emotion in all of us. It offers hope when there seems to be none. It reminds us all of the simplicity of life and what really matters most. When you boil it down, it makes you slow down and ask yourself if you’re doing all you can to be a good person.
This year it’s going to be more difficult to let go of the Christmas season for me. Normally, my Christmas decorations would be down on New Year’s Day. Twinkle lights would be back in their boxes stuffed into the garage shelves.
But not this year.
I’m still twinkling over here, because the truth is, people in general are just a bit kinder during the holidays than during the rest of the year. The Christmas season tends to bring out the best in people, and A Christmas Carol highlights that aspect.
But in order to be more like our saved Scrooge, we can look to the second to last paragraph of the text in Stave Five that Dickens wrote himself:
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
—From A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I hope you have the loveliest of holidays forthcoming, keep the Christmas spirit the whole year long, have a fabulous New Year, and feel much love as we march into 2018.
Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.