A Christmas Carol illustrations by P. J. Lynch

By penning A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens brought to life so many of our ideals for christmas: the cold and chill outside, frost on the window panes, and peering inside we see the gathering of the family; the warmth and great cheer, the playing of games together, and of course the food, glorious food! 

One passage in particular stays with me, as an example of all that is merry...

The scales on the counter make a merry sound, twine and roller part company briskly, and canisters rattle while the smell of coffee and tea fill the shop.... The candied fruits so caked and spotted with molten sugar... The French plums blushed in modest tartness from their highly decorated boxes. The raisins were plentiful, the almonds so extremely white, and the sticks of cinnamon so long and straight... The Spanish onions are ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed, shining in the fatness of their growth like Spanish Friars, and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe.


In this one short book, Dickens was able to make me laugh and cry by picking up on those nuances of human emotion: the tender compassion that we feel for our fellow beings, and the irony we see in the world around us. His wordplay was impeccable, and I especially enjoyed the two humorous examples below...

Old Marley was as dead as a doornail... Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a doornail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade.
Then the shouting and the onslaught that was made on the defenceless porter! The scaling him with chairs for ladders to dive into his pockets, despoil him of brown-paper parcels, hold on tight to his cravat, hug him around his neck, pommel his back and kick his legs in irrepressible affection!

* The gorgeous illustration of a snow covered village is by P. J. Lynch.