What, the Dickens? Yes, the Dickens.
Judging by the amount and tenor of the material that he wrote on the subject of Christmas, Dickens seemed to have a special sensitivity to the season. By and large, his themes were the usual themes of Christmas fare, namely, peace on earth, compassion to fellow man, ennoblement of the human spirit. So also were his trappings the Christmas trappings we've come to embrace, decorated evergreen trees and luscious Christmas feasts, children’s toys and holiday sweets, wrapped presents and family gatherings. He was only missing Ernest Saves Christmas, but fortunately that's a void we non-Victorians don't have to experience.
It is with these ideas in mind that one might find it strange that Dicken’s most famous and transcendent Christmas work, A Christmas Carol, the one that has risen to overshadow all other Christmas works including the nativity story in the Bible, is full of misery, wretchedness, and depravity, and that it is centered around a twisted, miserly, decadent creature named Ebenezer Scrooge.
Actually, I'm only feigning (badly) the surprise in the previous two paragraphs. I'm pretty sure that the grimness and ghastliness of A Christmas Carol is exactly the reason why Dicken’s story has resonated with mankind and become such a vivid part of Christmas. I mean, within his portrayal of Christmas lies a naked, unnerving portrayal of reality itself.
We have to see the hateful Grinch just north of Who-ville before we can carve the roast beast, or George Bailey on the bridge about to widow his wife and orphan his children before we can put any kind of positive adjective in front of the word life. We have to see the mutilated, dying man on the cross before the baby in the manger can be appreciated.
Dicken’s A Christmas Carol is one of those rare stories in which the idea of the story itself is so great that had it been poorly written, it would still be a great story. Fortunately for us and Christmas, it was written merely by someone who is often revered as the greatest novelist humankind has ever produced. Sometimes things just work out that way. It's the magic of Christmas, I guess.