Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Little Dickens

Two weeks ago I happened upon a used bookstore that was going out of business.  I stopped, entered with a full wallet, and walked out with a giant box of books and no money for dinner.  Among the treasures I discovered, all for a mere $1 a pop, was an 1880 edition of The History of England, written by Charles Dickens.

This is a good season for Dickens, as the old master had a tradition of writing a Christmas story every year . . . most of which were published in London newspapers as serial-originals.  Dickens isn't necessarily a mentor (I find his novels too plodding, far too expansive, and mostly too depressing) but I have attempted to follow his tradition by writing my own Christmas tales every year. 

When my kids were younger, I often wrote (or created on the spot) various Christmas tales for their bedtime enjoyment and nightmares.  I enjoyed troubling my kids, striking Christmas fear into their hearts, suggesting they learn to sleep with the lights on.  To this day they can't wait for Christmas to pass so they can get some rest.  They don't worry about gifts, trees, eggnog, or gingerbread . . . they just want Dad to leave them alone and stop pestering them with tales of mayhem and madness.

Dickens knew all about ghosts and spirits.  Most of his Christmas tales were loaded with sinister undertones, warnings, voices, and visions . . . I feel I'm just following in the footsteps of the master.

One of these days I hope to write the perfect Christmas story.  But not this year.  My kids still need to sleep with the lights on.

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