By the time I moved to Connecticut, I had already made a habit of reading Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” at Christmas time. I had made it habit but not yet a tradition.
The decision to commit to rereading it every year began the snowy winter we lived in a one-story cottage dating to the mid-18th century. It had a huge picture window overlooking the backyard, which had a creek running through it and, on the opposite bank, a nature preserve. In the living room, a gigantic stone fireplace (about the size of the studio apartment I had once lived in) dominated one wall and featured a cooking arm dating to the colonial period. That first Christmas, Mother Nature delivered a blizzard on Christmas Day leaving us house-bound, so we lit a roaring fire in our mammoth fireplace and settled in for a quiet evening. I picked up the battered paperback edition of “A Christmas Carol” (probably lifted from my parents’ home at some point) that I’d been reading for last few years.
There’s nothing particularly congruous about reading a 19th Century British novel in a mid-18th Century New England cottage, other than this: Some things never get old with age, never feel stale, and provide an almost boundless potential for discovery. That’s “A Christmas Carol” to me. With each reading, I find something new or see the old through fresh eyes and fresh experiences. The characters are, by now, old friends I look forward to revisiting each year.
This year, my annual reread of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens will commence on Wednesday, Dec. 23. This is to ensure that I leave myself enough time to get through most of the book by Christmas Eve, with just the final chapter left to read on Christmas Day. Oh yes, considerable planning, thought, and years of trial and error have gone into engineering this holiday read.
I think the classic novel is more than worth it, though. Other readers who feel this way might find this video interesting. Filmed at London’s Charles Dickens Museum, it features Michael Slater explaining Charles Dickens’s inspirations and motivations in creating this timeless work of literature.
Are you a seasonal reader, and if so, what books are you reading this time of year?