Celebrating Christmas in the valley of the shadow of death


“At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted, was considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire.  Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at Bob Cratchit’s elbow stood the family display of glass. Two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle. 

These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob proposed:

‘A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!’  Which all the family re-echoed.

‘God bless us every one! said Tiny Tim, the last of all. He sat very close to his father’s side upon his little stool. Bob held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the child and wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken from him.

‘Spirit,’ said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, ‘tell me if  Tiny Tim will live.’

‘I see a vacant seat,’ replied the Ghost, ‘in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved.  If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die.’

‘No, no,’ said Scrooge. ‘Oh, no kind Spirit! say he will be spared.’

‘If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race, ‘ returned the Ghost, ‘will find him here. What then?  If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.’

Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.’

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, December 1843.

God bless us, everyone!

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