Posted tagged ‘Charles Dickens’

My Favorite Christmas Stories

December 16, 2021

My all-time favorite Christmas stories are The Gift of the Magi and A Christmas Carol. Each Christmas season, I have my copies out ready to read. I never tire of the beautiful messages that are woven into the words written by O. Henry and Charles Dickens. These stories touch my heart.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Della and Jim, a young married couple, are in love. They are as poor as church mice but long to give each other a special Christmas gift – a thoughtful one to show their love. Even though neither of them has any extra money to buy an expensive gift, each is willing to sell a most precious possession to buy one. Jim sells his gold watch to buy tortoise-shell combs to adorn Della’s long hair. Della sells her hair to buy a watch fob for Jim’s watch. In the end, the expensive gifts seem a bit foolish since neither Della nor Jim can use them. So, why is the title The Gift of the Magi? The magi were wise men who traveled a long distance to give precious gifts to the baby Jesus. Although you may not agree, Della and Jim were wise when they chose their gifts for one another. The gifts represent the incredible sacrifice each was willing to make to express their love for one another. Now that’s what I call true love!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Scrooge was not always a gruff man, but over the years,  greed slowly consumed him as money became more important to him than anything and anyone else – including his only nephew, Fred who is kind-hearted, and Bob Cratchit, his clerk, who loves his large family, especially Tiny Tim who uses a crutch and wears braces on this legs. Scrooge has a cold heart and cares for no one. On Christmas eve, the ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s deceased partner in business, appears to Scrooge warning him to change his ways before it’s too late. Much to Scrooge’s dismay, Marley tells Scrooge he will be visited by three ghosts – The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. With each ghostly visit, Scrooge’s icy heart slowly begins to melt. Scrooge remembers the happy things from his past, sees the spirit of Christmas come alive in the present as he observes the happiness in his nephew’s home and the love and warmth found in the Cratchit family’s home. By the time Scrooge meets the ominous Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, he vows to become a better man. In the following days, Scrooge reconciles with his nephew, Fred, becomes a generous benefactor in his community and is like a second father to Tiny Tim. This is a story of greed, redemption, generosity, and kindness. It’s a reminder to keep the spirit of Christmas alive all year long.

“And so, as Tiny Tim observed, “God Bless Us, Every One!”

A Wish

September 16, 2021

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

 ~Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

September 11th is my birthday. On that day, twenty years ago, I was teaching in an elementary school near Boston. As a gift to me, I asked my husband to postpone his business trip so we could celebrate together. He did. (He was not booked on United Airlines Flight 175.)  By the end of that September 11th day, there was nothing to celebrate.

I was in class when the news of the terrorist attacks passed quietly through the halls as school administrators whispered to teachers what had happened. There were parents in our school community who flew out of Boston to various places to do business. It was imperative that students need not know what was going on before their parents could explain the situation to their children on their own terms.

It was a sad day – a scary day. “It was the worst of times. It was the season of darkness.”

The downside of the horrible terrorist attacks was the many people who perished and the first responders who have health complications today from desperately trying to save lives. The upside is that suddenly Americans, no matter what religious, ethnic, or diverse background, came together. We flew the American flag – a symbol of liberty, justice, and freedom, and we embraced each other to become a strong, resilient America.

It’s now twenty years later. Our nation is more dived than I’ve ever seen.

This year, my September 11th birthday wish is that we end our political divide. Stop the craziness on both sides. Listen and respect other’s opinions. Work to unite rather than divide. I wish this to be our “season of light” and “spring of hope.”

God Bless America

A Nation’s Strength

What makes a nation’s pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
~Emerson

More Merry Reading

December 17, 2015

Two more of my favorite Christmas books are collections of stories, poems, and carols with dynamite illustrations. Diane Goode and Norman Rockwell are artists of renown. These books are Americana at its best.

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Diane Goode’s American Christmas and Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book provide readers of all ages with hours of entertainment and reading pleasure. When you open these books, you step into an old-fashioned Christmas.

Both books have classic Christmas carols with sheet music included. Both have stories and poems written by well-known authors. In Goode’s book, you can find authors such as Jayne Thayer, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Edgar Allen Poe and poets Langston Hughes, Aileen Fisher, e. e. cummings, and Clement C. Moore. In Rockwell’s more comprehensive book, there is a wealth of authors and poets such as O. Henry, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Ogden Nash, Robert Frost, and Lewis Carroll. Goode’s cheerful and expressive illustrations bring a smile to your lips, and Rockwell’s true-to-life illustrations touch your heart. The artistry of Goode and Rockwell paired with the stories, poems, and carols in each book make these a must for your holiday library.

 

Below are two “mini-novels” that I also adore and are well worth reading during the holidays. They will tug at your heartstrings.

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and The Shepherd by Frederick Forsyth

Grab a moment for yourself during this busy time and enjoy a great book.

 

 

Christmas Books Worth Reading: Don’t Be a Scrooge!

December 20, 2012

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, …”

“Humbug!”

What the dickens am I blathering about? Charles Dickens, of course. You know – the Charles Dickens of David Copperfield, Great Expectations, and Oliver Twist fame. He also wrote a slew of other books. I’m well acquainted with Dickens. His books were required reading in high school, and I have to admit I found them a bit depressing. Okay, I’m a Scrooge but not a total Scrooge. One of my favorite Christmas stories written by the same Charles Dickens is A Christmas Carol. You know the story. If you don’t, shame on you. It’s a must read!

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Scrooge is the perfect curmudgeon. He’s a character you love to hate. Tight-fisted, mean, and heartless are just a few words to describe him. When his dead-as-a-door-nail business partner, Jacob Marley, pays an unexpected ghostly visit to Scrooge, the fun begins. A stern warning to change his ways and a promise of three more ghosts follow Marley’s early evening visit to Scrooge. The Spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet To Come  force Scrooge to face the person he has become. It’s not a pretty picture. By observing the love and caring of those around him, especially a certain Tiny Tim, Scrooge has an aha moment and realizes how empty and worthless his life has become. Thus begins his transformation.

There is great satisfaction in reading this book, knowing that change for the better is always possible. It is a heart-warming story filled with themes of family, love, and kindness. It will touch your heart.

Don’t be a humbug. Remember it is better to give than receive. So give yourself a gift this year. Read this Christmas classic and keep the true meaning of Christmas alive throughout the year.

In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us every one!”

 

 


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