We all know the story of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; it’s been retold and adapted enough times that it’s become part of popular culture. Certainly a great deal of its longevity has to do with Dickens particular blend of wit and pathos. But what if he wasn’t the one who penned the classic? How would A Christmas Carol read if some other authors took a crack at it?
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man who has lost possession of his life, must be dead.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering the afterlife, this truth must be well-fixed in your minds, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. Old Marley was dead as, in the parlance of our times, a door nail, and so then was his legacy considered the property of one Mr. Scrooge…
“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.”
“Are you looking for sympathy?” asked Scrooge. “You'll find it in the dictionary between shit and syphilis.”
“Well," said Scrooge, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Collecting Money was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to collect it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. And then he thought that being with Marley was a very good thing to do, back when Marley was alive enough to be with, and having Cratchit near was a very comforting thing to have, especially when you needed someone to yell at; and so, when he had thought it all out, he said, "What I like best in the whole world is business.”
"Business?" said the Ghost, "I thought I liked business, too. But now I see that what I really liked doing best was Nothing.”
“Small, ain’t it,” said the Ghost, “to make these silly folks so full of gratitude.”
“Small!” echoed Scrooge.
“Why? He spent, what? A few dollars of your mortal money: three or four perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this praise?”
Scrooge sat on Fezziwig in his mind for a moment. “He did not tell us to clean up their lives, or go and sin no more. He did not tell us we were the blessed of the earth, its inheriting meek, or its glory-bound pure. He told us that the only grace we could have is the grace we could imagine. That if we could not see it, we could not have it.”
The truth about Christmas, Ghost of Christmas Present said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with sugar plums having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning.
Christmas is no narrow thing.
David Foster Wallace
“It now lately sometimes seemed a black miracle to me that people could actually care deeply about a subject or pursuit,” said Scrooge. “and could go on caring this way for years on end. Could dedicate their entire lives to it.”
Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.
“It seemed admirable and at the same time pathetic,” said Scrooge. “We are all dying to give our lives away to something, maybe.”
The Spirit didn't reject the idea so much as not react to it and watch as it floated away.
“We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but someday the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age,” cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes.
“Eh?” returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.
“What’s to-day, my fine fellow?” said Scrooge.
“To-day!” replied the boy. “Why, Christmas Day!”