Charles Dickens’ ‘Christmas Festivities’

For me, Charles Dickens perfectly sums up the Christmas spirit: hope, love, good cheer, optimism, and charity.


This year, I’m reading all of Charles Dickens’ Christmas stories in addition to A Christmas Carol, which is my annual tradition. I’d like to share a passage here of the first paragraphs of the first story in that clothbound Penguin edition, “Christmas Festivities,” because it speaks volumes about the way Christmas should be appreciated and celebrated:

“Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused—in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened—by the recurrence of Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be—that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope or happy prospect of the year before, dimmed or passed away—and that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes—of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world who cannot call up such thoughts any day in the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the fire—fill the glass, and send round the song—and, if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass is filled with reeking punch instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it off-hand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it’s no worse.”

I love this quote, because it reminds me that Christmas isn’t about stuff, but about family and love. It’s one time of year we can all choose to be happy, cheerful, kind, and loving. And I hope that wherever you are, and whatever holiday you’re celebrating this season, that it’s happy and cheerful and full of love.


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