The gift of an hour

I was in the living room with our one-year-old when the phone rang. I picked it up and heard my wife’s voice on the other end of the line. That’s when it hit to me:

The call was coming from inside the house!

But this is more of a Christmas than Halloween story, so nothing terrifying happened.

A Disney Christmas Carol is on channel 48,” she said. She was upstairs, getting ready to go to bed early. She didn’t want to yell down the stairs and let Buster know where he could find her. He might decide he’d rather be with her, which would ruin her sleep plans.

I like watching A Christmas Carol. I love reading it. I try to read it every December because I think it is one of the most perfect stories in the English language. No one else in my family is old enough to remember when words were used, instead of CGI, to paint a story. So, with them, I watch it.

Big brother was already in bed, visions of making it to kindergarten on time dancing in his head. It was just Buster, me, and special guest Jim Carrey as Scrooge. We rocked in the recliner. It lacked an hour until Buster’s normal nodding off time. I wondered how long he would watch before he climbed down and looked for a toy or a mother.

Ghost of Christmas Past

Jim Carrey seems most human when he is computer animated. The Ghost of Christmas Past is a delight to little boys. (Image: Disney)

He looked for neither. He watched with me. He didn’t fidget or look around the room or punch me in the ear or anything. He watched, like he was interested. He seemed especially mesmerized by the Ghost of Christmas Past with his flaming head and superluminal flying skills. He made it through an entire hour, until the visit to Scrooge’s nephew’s Christmas party with the Ghost of Christmas Present. Then, he rested his head on my chest and nestled in to sleep.

It wasn’t much, only everything. That one hour was the kind of time a dad cherishes. Sharing something you love with your son, and having him be interested in it, doesn’t happen every day. Yes, he was interested on a completely different level, but still, it was a moment we shared.

Maybe he won’t care for it at all, next year, but that hour gives me hope that he will. It gives me hope that someday, we’ll read the story together. I’m getting ahead of myself here, but maybe someday, he’ll read it with his son. Of course its title will be changed to A Holiday Carol by then, but I expect Dickens will still be dead, and a little rolling over in the grave never killed anyone.

Illustrated Christmas Carol

My illustrated edition: beautiful words and pictures, but no computer animation, so we’ll have to wait and see how well it catches on.

I’m not a very religious person, but I do believe Christmas, taken in the right perspective, can add light to one’s soul. Maybe I’m just a backward traditionalist, but if we don’t give our kids something enduring at times like Christmas, we leave them nothing but toys. And we all know how long toys last.

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15 comments on “The gift of an hour

  1. Lizi says:

    That’s so sweet! My dad read us The Christmas Carol every year, so much in fact, that I have the first sentence memorized: “Marley was dead, to begin with. There was no doubt whatever about that.”

  2. A. van Nerel says:

    Darn it…I always keep insisting Dickens is overrated (which is silly, as I never read more than half a book of his), but when you put it like this, I can’t help but somehow feel A Christmas Carol is awesome. Would December 12 be too early to wish you and your family a merry Christmas, cause you just got me in the mood.

    • I will concede that Dickens had his flaws. I sometimes get annoyed by the tangents his plots seem to sprout. But there is so much to appreciate about his phrasing. I think A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities are his tightest works. If you don’t make it through those, Dickens probably isn’t right for you.
      It’s never too early to wish me a merry anything, least of all Christmas. I wish the same upon you and yours.

  3. teburley says:

    Love this! I started reading A Christmas Carol a few days ago, not realizing that I might be missing something with all the movies based on it swirling in my head instead. Such a beautiful story, and what a lovely tradition to start with your boys. Happy Christmas to your lovely family!

    • It says something about the story that they are still making movies of it. Even though most of the films make an effort to stay true to the text, there’s nothing like the original. I’m glad you are discovering it. Merry Christmas!

  4. milosivanskistudio says:

    My favourite version on film is the old black and white movie with Alistair Sims. It wouldn’t be Christmas for me without it. ❤

  5. Traci says:

    This is a perfect holiday post, Scott. I love Dickens, and I am saddened by the paranoid twist society has taken over the words “Merry Christmas.” I’m glad you made a great memory with your son!

  6. yearstricken says:

    So important to create traditions for our children. Merry Christmas!

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