As of Friday, December 22, 2017
A moral fable and one of the world’s most enduring ghost stories, one known best as novel, started as a series of tales told around coal fires. “A Christmas Carol,” known the world over for its entertaining and moving account of Ebenezer Scrooge, began as a serial, author Charles Dickens reading to London audiences. True power and impact originates with small groups of people gathered together. Dickens’ landmark, so beloved “at this time of the rolling year,” grew from such places.
Dickens’ tale received a new look in the local Plays for Non-Profits production this month, a version adapted by Rev. Gary Young, in his fifth turn as Scrooge. The production would reap $2,500 for the banks in Klickitat County, Columbia Gorge Dance Studio, and Hood River County Christmas Project.
While rooted cultural traditions affect us generally, individuals approach Christmas from different perspectives (some not at all) and every performance of Dickens is different. Young said in an interview with Hood River News that he used “particular phrases and lines which I believe are the reasons Dickens wrote this.” For our celebration of Christmas, they are illuminating. (Full interview at hoodrivernews.com.)
As Young explains, “These are all from the original text, there are some of my favorites, like when the Ghost of Christmas Present blesses the meals and says, ‘To any kindly given, to a poor one most,’ and Scrooge says, ‘Why to a poor one most?’ The spirit replies, ‘Because it needs it most.’ Scrooge asks him, ‘Do not those of high estate also claim needs?’ and the spirit responds to that. And I think we are at a place where there is a response.”
That response comes from the Ghost of Christmas Past: “There are some upon this earth of yours, who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not on us.’ I think the spirit is calling us to reorder our society so that we are caring for people who have been less fortunate.”
In “A Christmas Carol,” we know of Scrooge’s transformation. Most of us need no such radical, ghost-driven process. A slight adjustment here and there, all of us susceptible to the aggravations and acclamations of our lives.
Young: “As you have experience of joyful or sad moments in life, if you enter into them you lose yourself, and in that transformation Scrooge loses himself and becomes such a happy individual that it’s infectious … and I hope it will delight them in a way that it brings lightness and resolve to their holiday traditions on their own.”
May you find, and share, the joy of the season.