I had the delightful pleasure of seeing the new movie “The Man Who Invented Christmas” the night before it opened nationally in the late hours just before midnight. My second Mom and I adore “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens so every year as a treat I try to find some rendition for us to see together. Sometimes plays, sometimes interactive recreated Dickens villages or special readings of this prodigious work. This year cinematography brought Dickens own life to light and how the Ghosts of Christmas may have visited him.
I never associated ghosts with Christmas. Andy Williams’ (dubbed Mr. Christmas) famous song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” includes a line of ‘scary ghost stories’ in it but I never thought about it. Apparently it was common practice in Europe before Dickens wrote his story. Winter solstice and pagan rituals were bloated with ghostly tales at years’ end. It was natural to look back over the ending year as a death and ahead into the unknown new one. Ghost stories abounded.
During the 1640s and ’50s the parliamentary party in England being Biblically based in beliefs rather than tradition banned a lot of the more, as we would say, secular Christmas festivities such as feasting, dancing and holiday games. The singing of carols was also forbidden. Christmas was shut down during the Industrial Revolution and people worked just like any other day. Sort of like throwing the baby out with the bath water— all the joys of Christ’s birth were squelched because of overindulgence in worldly ritual. It was a sad, dark era.
And then in October of 1843 Charles Dickens was inspired by his own ghosts to write his most enduring work. I believe the Holy Ghost Most High put the idea in his heart and helped Dickens struggle through his personal painful past to create this amazing Ghostly Christmas tale. A story focussed on redemption and transformation through the help of Ghosts.
The characters were formed and came to life as Dickens wrote speedily to keep up with them. In only six weeks he wrote the entire story and had it published just before Christmas that year. It sold out by Christmas eve. The story encouraged people to celebrate the transforming wonders of Christmas. They began to go underground with their Christmas festivities behind closed doors. Slowly Christmas celebrations returned to merry ole England.
Dickens masterpiece remains one of the most successful works ever written. It has never been out of print and has been translated into several languages; the story has been adapted for film, stage, opera and various other media productions.
The best ghost story is an older one. The most Holy Ghost played a huge part in the very first Christmas which started it all. He overshadowed the young virgin Mary and through His divine power the Son of God formed in her womb. And later Our blessed Savior was born to redeem and transform each of us from our sinful pasts. Offering salvation and a bright hope for our future. And so we celebrate the greatest gift mankind would receive.
The Puritan viewpoint held before Dickens novella is said to have been based on the lack of Biblical instruction to celebrate Christ’s birth. But what if God let it up to us to decide if He was worth our celebration? Would we rejoice in His coming on our own? Just a thought. Surely the heavenly host who proclaimed Jesus’ arrival were celebrating.
Have you accepted His gift? Salvation and Transformation? It’s not too late as long as you’re still breathing.
May we spread kindness, generosity and compassion to all we meet this upcoming Christmas season and into 2018 because HE lives inside us by the power of the HOLY GHOST!
God Bless us, everyone.
Shine on. . .
As a side note for Downton Abbey fans; actor DAN STEVENS (Matthew Crawley) stars as Dickens in this delightful frolic of a film.