Season's greetings to you and yours around the world, and welcome to Christmas Eve at SteynOnline. Just ahead of our traditional Yuletide cornucopia, I thought we'd offer an encore presentation of last year's special Christmas Tale for Our Time. If you're behind with the wrapping and are likely to be hard at it until four in the morning, well, you can have a good old binge-listen and enjoy the whole thing. Or, alternatively, feel free to dip in and out twenty minutes at a time between caroling and wassailing and watching mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe.
The book, of course, is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - and, as I discuss in my introduction, it played a large part in the contemporary view of the festive season. Indeed, it helped re-configure the English Yuletide from the old rural "twelve days of Christmas" into the more focused family celebrations we know today. As Dickens' tale begins, we meet a man who would become one of the best known characters in literature - Ebenezer Scrooge:
Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas...
"A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!" cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.
"Bah!" said Scrooge, "Humbug!"
If you're familiar with movies or musicals of this tale but not the original, I hope you'll enjoy my take on a classic. To hear A Christmas Carol, prefaced by my own introduction to the story, please click here and log-in.
There's more storytelling when Dame Siân Phillips joins me to recall Dylan Thomas and to read "A Child's Christmas in Wales" on The Mark Steyn Christmas Show - and we have the bicentennial biography of a beloved song in a live-music special on "Silent Night". And don't forget our other Yuletide Tales for Our Time:
Little Women at Christmas
by Louisa May Alcott
The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Gift of the Magi
by O Henry
by Mark Steyn