I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
While people fault Dickens for his sentimentality, I think it’s perfectly in place when it comes to the joy of Christmas and the delight of childhood. These feelings have always had a redeeming effect upon me even when I was far from religion. And I think that so long as one can cling to such thoughts, however much one may stray in other regards, one will always come back to the truth.
As a parent of small children, the blessings of joy and innocence come together in the celebration of the Nativity as at no other time. Yet if our families are to enjoy this special day then we must keep in mind Scrooge’s vow: “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” There is no better way to keep this spirit alive than by a quiet evening reading of Dickens’ tale. As Chesterton said, “The story sings from end to end like a happy man going home.” I also recommend the 1951 film version of A Christmas Carol with Alaistar Sim, which beautifully captures the humor and goodness of the original.