word craft


A Christmas Letter

A Christmas CarolEvery year around Christ­mas time— “this rolling time of the year”—I re-read Charles Dick­ens’ A Christ­mas Car­ol.  

Part of this comes about because the read­ing has become my tra­di­tion, and tra­di­tions, I think, help mea­sure one’s life. I also read it because I feel it’s a les­son to me, a les­son I should heed at my own per­il: that I must strive to be a bet­ter per­son, with much greater empa­thy for peo­ple, for that is the book’s ulti­mate mes­sage: we must live humane­ly midst human­i­ty. Final­ly, I read it because it nev­er fails to move me. In Scrooge’s redemp­tion, in some mys­tic sense, is (hope­ful­ly) my redemp­tion. For such is the pow­er of great lit­er­a­ture. That said, not the least of my plea­sures in read­ing the book is its writ­ten perfection. 

But as I read A Christ­mas Car­ol this year, this pan­dem­ic year, this hor­ri­ble polit­i­cal year, this year of so much suf­fer­ing, this year which seems a con­stant cacoph­o­ny of con­spir­a­to­r­i­al hate, this year of full-throt­tle fol­ly, and hor­ren­dous hor­ror, all midst con­stant courage, and hero­ism, the book seems less a work pub­lished on Decem­ber 19, 1843, than one offered to a need­ful pub­lic on Decem­ber 19, 2020. 

In its sim­plest sense the book calls upon us to notice the harsh, sad world as it is, to pay atten­tion to “igno­rance and want.” 

“This Boy is igno­rance,” says the ghost of Christ­mas present. “This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow see that writ­ten which is Doom, unless the writ­ing be erased.” 

Read A Christ­mas Car­ol. It will do you some good. Be well. Be kind. Stay healthy. Keep reading. 

Much love to you all, 


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