Rereading "A Christmas Carol" at Christmas

By the time I moved to Connecticut, I had already made a habit of reading Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol at Christmas time, but not yet a tradition.

The decision to commit to rereading it every year began the snowy winter we lived in a one-story cottage dating to the mid-18th century. A huge picture window overlooked the backyard. A creek, populated by frolicking otters, flowed through the year. On the opposite bank lay a nature preserve, home to deer, wild turkeys, and other assorted wildlife. In the living room, a gigantic stone fireplace (about the size of a studio apartment I'd once lived in) dominated one wall and featured a cooking arm dating to the colonial period. 

That first Christmas, Mother Nature delivered a blizzard on Christmas Day leaving us house-bound, so we lit a roaring fire in our mammoth fireplace and settled in for a quiet evening. I picked up the battered paperback edition of “A Christmas Carol” (probably lifted from my parents’ home at some point) that I’d been reading for last few years.

There’s nothing particularly congruous about reading a 19th Century British novel in a mid-18th Century New England cottage, other than this: Some things never get old with age, never feel stale, and provide an almost boundless potential for discovery. That’s A Christmas Carol to me. With each reading, I find something new or see the old through fresh eyes and fresh experiences. The characters are, by now, old friends I look forward to revisiting each year.

What are your holiday reading traditions?



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