Friday, December 19, 2008

The Ghost of Christmas Reflection

According to Wikipedia, Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol was published today in 1843. It's hard to believe, but Dickens wrote the class tale about generosity and family togetherness during Christmas at a time when Christmas wasn't celebrated with much fanfare. England still held a largely Puritan belief regarding Christmas, making it a holiday left uncelebrated by much of the population. So the Christmas that we know and love today—full of good tidings, joy, and mountains of cookies—owes a lot to Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge.

Within a week of publication, A Christmas Carol sold over 6,000 copies in London. That's no small feat in mid-ninteenth century England! Since then Christmas has transformed into what it is today. I know many people complain that Christmas is too commercial, and doesn't really reflect the moral ideals of society anymore, but even with the over-commercialization, I still think a big part of why Christmas is so important in western society is that it brings families together. Only in December do we make the conscious effort to really see each other, even if it's for a cup of coffee on a blustery December afternoon.

So I just wanted to say thanks, Charles Dickens. You may have just been trying to fill the coffers, but what you inadvertantly changed was our very belief in the holiday. I don't think you really need much more praise than you already get, but I think it's important to note this significant contribution.

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