So it says in the opening lines of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
"There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate."
And away we are taken on a story of human redemption, a wild ghost story that always invigorates me with the Christmas spirit far better than the Manger story from my childhood. Not that the latter isn't warming to me as a relic of my childhood. It just doesn't seem overly practical to me now. At least not in the way Dickens brings out that humankind is everyone's true business.
Dickens was one of a small band of writers who laid the foundation for the traditional concept of Christmas, before it became politicized as it has in recent times and a battle ground for a religious war. Washington Irving and Clement C. Moore were also members. They made Christmas fun again, a time of celebration of the human spirit and goodwill towards mankind, and I bless their memories for it.
As a young man I formed the habit of reading A Christmas Carol every December. Now it suits me better to watch it as a movie. Last night I watched my favorite rendition of the tale, the George C. Scott version. As I recall, watching that for the first time back in 1984 was the beginning of the end of my yearly tradition of reading it.
I have accumulated on DVD four different version of Scrooge and Marley's little affair. All have their charms, but Scott's is my favorite. However, I have not had a chance to see the Patrick Stewart version from 1999. I started once to order it last year, but didn't want to spend the money for it. I didn't get the Scott version until last week, again having waited for it to go on sale. Maybe, if the price is right, I will order the Stewart version and give it a try later this month. But time is running short!
In the Scott version there is a theme song featured throughout the film, God Bless Us Everyone, that is quite catchy. In fact, I have been humming and whistling it almost continuously. Even took out my guitar to rough out a version of it.
Also, I like the way George C. Scott humanizes Scrooge. His isn't just an a-hole Scrooge. No, Ebeneezer is depicted as a soul hardened by the cruelties of life and having become misdirected by and obsessed with a quest for the security his childhood didn't offer him - which, sadly, he thinks can only be found in the accumulation of wealth.
It seems to be the case that there is at least a little bit of Scrooge in most of us.