So he went to Scotland, on holiday, as the legend goes. He had Scottish ties and found himself wandering around Greyfriar's Kirkyard (or cemetery to us). Now, this isn't just any ghost yard. T.S. Elliot and JK Rowling have also found their literary salvation among the haunts there. But it is a sad place too. Trouble and poltergeists loom large in the cemetery's past and if you ever have a chance to do the ghost tour there .... be prepared to scream like a little girl. I did
And maybe Dickens witnessed his own apparition there on the cemetery grounds because when he came upon the gravestone of one " Scroogie", he misread it for "Scrooge". According to the guides of the churchyard, Dickens was instantly intrigued by the great and powerful tombstone, obviously designed for a great and powerful man. And yet, there were no flowers, no epitaphs, no evidence of any kind that this man was remembered for all his wealth and power.
And it got him thinking.
Today, a hundred and fifty years or so later, the Western world pretty much recognizes Christmas in the way Charles Dickens imagined it should be recognized in 1843. It's interesting to note that before "A Christmas Carol", the traditions mentioned in the story were not necessarily traditions of the day. Lighting the Christmas tree was a foreign concept brought over by a foreign Prince (Albert) and the idea of Christmas Eve parties and carols were how Dickens imagined it should be. And so it is. Even now.
We all have our favorite versions, of course. And aren't we fierce about defending our "Scrooge" as the greatest? My vote is always for the ONLY English version filmed actually in England with an all English cast: "Scrooge" 1970 with Albert Finney. It is the ultimate version of all versions with the deepest despair and the most miraculous of transformations and rejoicing.
And what of "Scroogie"? The forgotten man who was destined to inspire one of the most miserable misers in history? According to the experts at the graveyard, he was actually a most generous and giving soul who was well loved in his community. Or so the story goes. And yet, wasn't it said the same of Scrooge after the ghosts were through with him? Perhaps "Scroogie" had a bit of Jacob Marley in him, his last kind deed was inspiring a young writer with writer's block.
MERRY CHRISTMAS Scroogie and Charles Dickens and all of you wonderful readers and your families!
God bless us, every one!