What we’ve learned from Dickens | Editorial

What we’ve learned from Dickens | Editorial

At the Sounder, we are well aware of the powers of the pen.

So it came as no surprise to learn that Charles Dickens’ book “A Christmas Carol” was one of the major influences that has instilled the idea of Christmas as a celebration of family and friends in addition to it being a religious day.

Dickens’ story that defines the holidays and has delighted Orcas audiences for decades is back for its seventh show at Orcas Center.

An adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” by Deborah Sparks, with music and lyrics by Jim Bredouw, will be on the main stage for five shows. This year’s director is Melinda Milligan. The production will run Dec. 13 to Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee on Dec. 16 at 2 p.m.

This popular show reminds us all about thinking of others’ needs as well as our own and the spirit of Christmas.

John Jordans, who heads the Dickens project at UC Santa Cruz, said in an NPR radio show several years ago that “the Cratchit family or Scrooge’s nephew are models for how to hold a one-day family celebration with the goose or the turkey or whatever.”

“A Christmas Carol” was published in 1843 just before Christmas on Dec. 17. Despite selling out in just three days, Dickens made just £130 profit, rather than the £1,000 he was hoping for, according to an article in “The Telegraph.”

In 1853, 10 years after the book’s publication, Dickens began performing readings and was known as a great actor bringing each character to life.

Due to the popularity of the tale, Dickens was also asked to write Christmas stories almost every year up until 1857. It’s amazing that now, 143 years after Dickens’ death and 170 years after “A Christmas Carol” was published, the story lives on.

There have been opera and ballet versions, a musical called “Comin’ Uptown” in 1979 and even a 1973 mime adaptation for the BBC starring Marcel Marceau. “A Christmas Carol” has been adapted to film more than 200 times and has even been made into a Muppets movie.

So what is the lesson that Dickens left with us? As we celebrate the holidays, it’s a time to remember that Dickens’ notion of Christmas was not the dread of family feuds, bright lights on our eaves, loads of presents or even decorating a tree, but a story of redemption, love and the meaning of life.

Dickens’ book is not only a way to celebrate Christmas, but a way to reflect on our purpose in this life. With that, we at the Sounder wish you a Merry Christmas and a life of good cheer.