It all started out innocently enough when my friend Miranda invited Samantha and I to The 1st Annual Dickens Festival in Southport, a cute little drinking village with a fishing problem just south of Wilmington. It still holds the quintessential small seafaring town ambiance, so it was perfect setting to be transported back into the 1840’s.
We watched high schoolers perform “A Christmas Carol.” Now, as a former stage manager for high school/community theatre productions, I know how to put on a good show with no budget or scenery. These kids did not. I think the entire cast each shotgunned a 2 liter of Mountain Dew before going out on stage: the scene changes were crappy, whoever was running the lights/spotlights needed to put down the Mountain Dew as well. They didn’t stay in character, they were running all over the place pre-show. A few of them took it seriously and were rather good. My skin as crawling and I was wishing I had some tomatoes to throw at them.
Oh and the director (I’m not even sure who she was, outside of an adult), was hiding behind a chair up center with what appeared to be a script. I mean really. Really.
Despite this, we partied it up by eating deep fried snickers bars (that’s totally 19th century, right?) and drinking hot apple cider. We got a few photo ops in with random Douglas Firs (i.e. Christmas trees) that seemed out of place under the canopy of live oaks and Spanish moss.
Fast forward to the past week, and The General was, once again, watching “A Christmas Carol,” the mid 1980’s version on AMC. I kinda wafted in and out of the story, only slightly interested. The more I got to thinking about it, I realized I had never actually read anything by Charles Dickens. Suddenly, I had this draw to go and buy the book. The bookstore I found did not have it – it’s a short story as it turns out – but they did have it in this collection of Christmas stories he wrote. It’s a big huge book, so worth $20, and the best part is they used the same type font as what his original works had; so some of the numbers/letters are smudged. Love it.
So last night, as I got ready for bed, I curled in my reading nook with a wooden wick candle (it crackles like a real fire) and my Oma’s knitted quilt and began to read. The story is told in 1st person by Dickens. I fell in love. The first lines drew me in:
“Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that…..
Old Marley was as dead as a door nail. Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particulary dead about a door nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard as a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of iron-mongery in the trade. Bu the wisdom of our ancestos is in the smile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the County’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”
And thus, the story began. A 200 year old man was sitting my head telling me one of the most amazing Christmas stories ever written (save for the one Luke tells in his 2nd chapter). I got through the 1st part, up to the ghost of Christmas Past arrived — and so tonight Mr. Dickens will come over again after The General and I get back from seeing Phil Davis and Bob Wallace perform their show “Playing Around.”
Merry Christmas indeed!