Arts & Culture

By the Hearth

In this house, there are numerous copies and editions of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, stowed away in Ikea bookshelves. Traditionally, during the Advent season, the whole family congregates together on some evenings and we read the story aloud to each other. This tale is a pressed flora specimen in your grandfather’s journal, embraced by handwriting on either side of the equator: it is a thing of beauty you always come back to look at. 

The Ghost of Christmas Past: This chronicle is a document written in six weeks by a gifted man next to the hearth.

Ebenezer Scrooge, an old curmudgeon who works in a counting-house, believes that Christmas is a humbug. The tale concerns the life of this misanthrope, and follows him through his visitations with three spirits of his own conscience: the Ghost of Christmas Present, the Ghost of Christmas Past, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The author continues to introduce us to numerous vibrant and genuine people born from his mind (such as Marley, whose visage appears to be like “a bad lobster in a dark cellar”).

Dickens was prone to impersonating his characters so as to better describe them. Charles Dickens initially thought his vocation was to become an actor and nearly became a professional thespian in 1832. However, in 1833, he began contributing to writings in magazines and newspapers (later republished in Sketches by Boz). A Christmas Carol was originally written to wade out of his debt, and humour his domineering publishers, but it is now a classic yuletide story. Dickens wrote the work in part to draw attention to the extremity of the poor, and the ability of the people around him to alleviate their suffering through generosity and care. The beloved character Tiny Tim, as it is widely believed, was based on Dickens’ late nephew Harry Burnett who passed away from tuberculosis at the age of nine. The author let the spirit of this child live on through Tim Crachit.

The Ghost of Christmas Present: An adolescent, you, reading this: pre-test anxieties, social media notifications, and imagination.




  • The family
  • Hot chocolate with whipped cream (optional), homemade apple cider, or any other piping drink
  • Felt or wool plaid blankets


  1. Gather all the individuals in your household (whether by free will or force) and provide them with an heirloom or thrift shop quilt
  2. Be sure to have plenty of warming beverages
  3. Scavenge a single copy of the novella from your local bookshelf or kitchen cupboard
  4. Select a roll, one for each, and alternate readers depending on the narrator in the book
  5. Continue in this manner every night during Advent or until you complete the tale


A Christmas Carol, the battered novella that makes its home in the cherry wood book rack near the fireplace, is a tale that one can return to annually and every reunion is as gratifying and vivid as the last.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: A festival of lights, envisionings of a universe within the streetlamp, concealed by a winter blizzard.

“And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”


Photo Credit: Maia Gaskovski


  1. Interesting read, Maia!

  2. I’ve always wanted to sit down and read the Christmas Carol, I just might do it this year!

  3. Excellent article! I look forward to an attempt at driving my family into the same room.

  4. Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Merry Christmas!