Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What the Dickens

So Gryffinkat had gotten me thinking about this earlier, but last night I was at my parents' house for a visit and got to partake of an old family Christmas tradition.

Every year since I was probably about nine, my dad has read Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" out loud to us. This is a bit of a change from the norm in my house, since my mom is the designated story-reader in the family. So having my dad (who is a wonderful reader) perform for us makes this tradition even more special to us.

We start early in the month and usually finish with the last stave on Christmas Eve. We've started including my grandfather (who lives a block away from my parents) in the tradition and he just loves it as well. It's started to evolve into something aking to the Rocky Horror Picture show (which I have never seen, only heard about), where we all have our parts to contribute.

For example, at several points in the narrative my grandfather will start talking about what an amazing writer Dickens was. In particular, when I was there on Monday my dad read Stave Three, aka The Ghost of Christmas Present, and Dickens goes into an elaborate description of the Cratchitt's roast goose for dinner. My grandpa, right on cue, piped up, "Isn't he so descriptive? Can't you just smell the sage?"

Then we all have to chime in on the out-loud-in-chorus parts. Says Mrs. Cratchitt of the pudding "I had my doubts about the quantity of flour."

And, since our copy is, sadly, abridged, every now and then my dad has to pause and tell us "This part isn't in here, but it goes like this..." I suppose he really needs the full version, but this routine is also part of the tradition now and I think I'd miss it just as much if it wasn't there as we miss the parts that aren't included in our version.

The reason my favorite part is stave three, though, is the visit to Scrooge's nephew's Christmas dinner, and the game of Blindman's Buff with Topper and the plump sister. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Dickens. This part always gets us in giggles (okay, my brother not so much, but only because he'd be offended if I said that he giggled like the girls do).

I wish you could all join in on this family tradition and hear my dad's reading. He has a wonderfully expressive voice (I always like listening to him "perform," as it were; Sundays when he spoke in church were always my favorites) and his inflections are now permanently in my mind whenever I read A Christmas Carol. I think he should make a recording and sell it to spread the joy around. Does anyone out there have some nice recording equipment?

1 comment:

gryffinkat said...

This is so cool! I would love to have this tradition with my family ... when (and if) I ever have my own family. :)

And I also really love the part with Blindman Bluff's at Nephew Fred's house. When I first starting reading A Christmas Carol, I didn't appreciate that part so much, but the older I get the more I love it!