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Monday, December 22, 2014

T'was the Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

This popular Christmas poem was written by Clement Clarke Moore (1799 - 1863). He was a respected scholar and a professor of Greek and Oriental literature.

The poem was originally titled A Visit from St. Nicholas and was published anonymously in 1823.

Clement Moore didn't actually acknowledge he was the author of the piece until 1844. He referred to the poem as a mere trifle and felt it wasn't a true reflection of his talents.

How ironic that this mere flight of fancy has become such a coveted Christmas favourite and is known by children and parents alike all over the world.

T'was the Night before Christmas was the first time the patron saint of children, St. Nicholas was associated with reindeer and the merry faced Santa Clause children have come to adore. The earlier pictures resembled the solemn bishop St. Nicholas, but with a jolly face.

T'was the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. 
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow 
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, 
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

For free downloads of the above story by Clement C. Moore.
Download to listen to A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement C. Moore at the Internet Archive here. Download to listen to T'was the Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore at Librivox here. Download to read T'was the Night before Christmas by Clement C.Moore at the Internet Archive here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Stocking Full of Fun Holiday Cartoons

I love the holiday seasons. From Halloween to Turkey Day to X-mas to the New Year. I love the lights, the decorations, the costumes, and presents and, most, importantly, the gathering of friends and family.

Some of my feelings may stem from the fact that so many of my family’s birthdays fall in the extended holiday season (mine comes right after X-mas). I absolutely love hunting down the perfect gift for my family and friends.

Here is a little present for fans of animated shorts. We have two shorts:

  • Christmas Comes But Once a Year from 1936.
  • Peace on Earth from 1939.
  • Tom and Jerry: The Night Before Christmas from 1941.
  • Santa's Surprise from 1947.
  • and Hector’s Hectic Life from 1948. 

Christmas Comes But Once a Year
First up is a nine minute animated short from December 4, 1936, titled Christmas Comes But Once a Year. This short was produced by Fleischer Studios and released by Paramount Pictures as part of its Color Classics series. The Color Classics animated shorts were Paramount’s attempt to compete with Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies shorts.

Christmas Comes But Once a Year is a notable cartoon for several reasons. First off, it stars a character named Grampy. Professor Grampy “appeared in nine of the later Betty Boop cartoons in the mid-1930s”. “Grampy is an ever-cheerful and energetic senior citizen with a bald head and a white beard. His primary activities include singing, dancing, and building Rube Goldberg-esque devices out of ordinary household items”.

Even though Grampy appears in Betty Boop cartoons there is some question about his exact relationship to Betty. Sometimes he is shown living in an apartment one floor above Betty’s, sometimes he is shown living in a separate house. Also, everyone calls him “Grampy”, not just Betty, so it’s unknown whether he is actually Betty’s own “Grampy” or just a friend with that nickname.

Christmas Comes But Once a Year is the only animated short in which Grampy ever appeared other than the nine Betty Boop shorts. Also, this is the only time that Grampy was ever seen in color - the nine Betty Boop shorts he was in were all in black and white.

The beginning and ending of Christmas Comes But Once a Year was also filmed using a special process called the Stereoptical Camera. In this process “three-dimensional sets were created so that animation cels could be placed in a realistic background allowing the characters to move about on an actual miniature stage”. The main body of the animated short is filmed in a more conventional manner but the Stereoptical Camera technique is very noticeable in the opening scenes at the very beginning of the outside of the orphanage and the scenes at the very end of Grampy’s special Christmas tree. It creates a very interesting and different effect.

Christmas Comes But Once a Year takes place on Christmas Day. The little orphans at an orphanage wake up and happily begin to sing and play with their presents. But their presents all quickly fall apart and the little orphans are left devastated and crying inconsolably. Grampy is driving around in his motorized sled and singing (the same song as the orphans):

“Christmas comes but once a year.
Now it’s here, now it’s here
Bringing lots of joy and cheer.
Tra la la la la!

You and me and he and she
And we are glad because
Why because because because
There is a Santa Claus!

Christmas comes but once a year.
Now it’s here, now it’s here
Bringing lots of joy and cheer
Tra la la la la!”

Grampy hears the sounds of the orphans crying and stops to investigate: “What’s the matter in here, I wonder? Looks like a pretty gloomy Christmas for those poor kids. What can I do? Let me think…”

Will Grampy be able to turn the orphans’ gloomy Christmas into a happy Christmas?

Grampy sets to work making new presents for the orphans. Some of his inventions are quite clever. He decorates the orphanage and dresses himself as Santa Claus. Grampy also makes an unique Christmas tree that is very inventive and that part of the ending is filmed in the Stereoptical Camera. These scenes, like the opening scenes, looks very interesting and noticeably different from the rest of the cartoon.

The orphans themselves all look exactly alike except for different hair color with the exception of one little baby orphan who looks different from all the others. The look-alike orphans all have a distinct look that reminds me of the typical woebegone waif seen in dozens of silent movies.

The audio quality of the animated short is very good. The visual quality is also good. There is some blurriness in places and some of the colors have faded but overall the short is pretty bright and cheerful looking. The story zips along quickly and the title tune is very catchy. Fans of animated shorts of all ages should enjoy Grampy’s exploits and may very well have a new favorite Christmas tune.

The Internet Archive does have three versions of Christmas Comes But Once a Year. One version has an American Sign Language interpreter. There are a few scenes cut out of the ASL version:

  • There is no opening song.
  • The children do not yell "Merry Christmas" or sing the song.
  • The baby does not sing.
  • Grampy does not sing the song or talk.
  • There is no final song.
  • Basically the Christmas Comes But Once a Year song is entirely cut out.  
But, while the deleted song is sweet and funny, it's absence does not distract from the cartoon.

Peace on Earth
Our next animated short is not the usual Holiday fun-filled romp. Oh, it is cute and funny but there is a very serious message about the effects of war in this animated short from December 9, 1939 that runs eight minutes and twenty-seven seconds.

Peace on Earth was directed by Hugh Harman for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The story is set during a winter holiday celebrated by small animals. The animals (squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks) wear clothes and live in a pretty little village. Many of the houses are made from soldiers’ helmets. Grandpa Squirrel comes to visit his family. The two baby squirrels ask their grandfather who the “men” are in the holiday song everyone is singing. Grandpa then tells them about the “orneriest, cussedest, dag-nab tribe of varmints” he ever saw. And the never ending wars of men that finally ended with all men dead.

Certainly a very serious message. But our animated short, Peace on Earth, is not overly sad or depressing. The scenes of warfare (very much a World War I setting) and of faceless marching soldiers and guns and tanks are sandwiched between scenes of the adorable little creatures who inherited the Earth. The little animals have built a quaint little village and have loving families and have apparently learned the lessons featured in the book they found in a ruined church (an implied Bible).

MGM realized that Peace on Earth was much more than just a fun cartoon and gave it special promotional treatment. “In a darkly ironic note,” several of the short’s animators were World War I veterans and had experienced warfare of the sort depicted in Peace on Earth yet, in just a few more years, they would be turning their talents from  making an anti-war film to making “wartime propaganda cartoons” during World War II.

Peace on Earth was remade in CinemaScope in 1955. The remake was titled Good Will to Men and showed more modern and destructive forms of warfare. Both the original, Peace on Earth (1939), and the remake, Good Will to Men (1955), were nominated for Academy Awards for Best Short Subjects in 1939 and in 1955. Peace on Earth was the first ever MGM cartoon to be nominated for an Academy Award. It was also the first animated short to receive a medal from Parents’ Magazine. And, in 1994, professional animators voted Peace on Earth number 40 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons.

Peace on Earth is a beautiful little film. The color palette for the little creatures is clear and bright. The color palette for the wars of man is drab and blurry. The two little baby squirrels are absolutely adorable while the soldiers in gas masks are faceless, scary-looking, inhuman monsters. The audio is clear and excellent. Peace on Earth also features  the music to the Christmas carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” but with new and original lyrics written just for the animated short.

Tom and Jerry: The Night Before Christmas
Our third animated short in another MGM cartoon, this time from 1941. Tom and Jerry is an animated series that was created in 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. The series “centers on a rivalry between its two main characters, Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse”. The series features silly fights and slapstick comedy.

Tom and Jerry: The Night Before Christmas was the third Tom and Jerry short to be released to theaters. It was released to theaters on December 6, 1941, just one day before the Japanese attack on the USA naval fleet at Pearl Harbor. This short film is the last Tom and Jerry adventure before the USA entered World War II. Tom and Jerry: The Night Before Christmas, like Peace on Earth (1939) before it, was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject in 1941.

This animated short features Jerry Mouse having a grand old time playing with the toys under a Christmas tree. But the little mouse mistakes a sleeping Tom Cat for a stuffed toy and bounces on him and wakes him up. Tom is not very happy about it and chases Jerry around the house.

Will Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse be able to put aside their differences and have a happy Christmas?

The Tom and Jerry series was the highest grossing cartoon series by the 1960s. But the series is also “infamous for some of the most violent cartoon gags ever devised in theatrical animation”.

Fortunately, our Holiday cartoon is nowhere near
as violent as some of the worse in the series. Yes, Tom gets bounced on, electrified when he grabs a Christmas light socket, punched with a boxing glove, and kicked in the rear. And, yes, Jerry gets chased around, knocked off a toy train, and frozen solid in the cold and snow outside. But, really, this is pretty mild compared to what the twosome get up to in some of their other adventures. And the main message of the animated short is about finding harmony, and maybe even friendship, during the Holidays.

I actually remember watching this particular short film many times as I was growing up. The audio and visual quality of the Internet Archive version is every bit as clear and sharp as when I was a kid. Tom and Jerry was one of my favorite cartoon series and I think Tom and Jerry: The Night Before Christmas is one of their best adventures.

Santa’s Surprise
Our fourth animated short is a Noveltoon from Famous Studios that premiered on December 5, 1947. Santa’s Surprise is about seven children from around the world who sneak a ride on Santa’s sleigh back to his home in the North Pole. Once the exhausted Santa has fallen asleep, the children decide to do something nice for Santa and clean his messy home and workshop.

Santa’s Surprise features a young girl character named Little Audrey. Audrey’s first cartoon appearance was in Santa’s Surprise but her character is actually derived from “a fictional character in folklore” who was often the butt of jokes (often dirty jokes). Paramount created Little Audrey after they decided not to renew the license on another, earlier, girl character named Little Lulu. Little Audrey went on to star in a series of Paramount Pictures’ Famous Studios animated shorts from 1947 to 1958.

 Santa’s Surprise, Little Audrey is the leader of the children who stow away to Santa’s home. The other six children are all very stereotyped representations:

  • A boy from Japan 
  • A girl from Hawaii
  • An African-American boy
  • A Spanish girl
  • A Russian boy
  • A Dutch boy

Little Audrey, herself, seems to be from New York City. All the other children feature very stereotyped, and often racist, clothes or features. The Russian boy sports a large fur hat, the Dutch boy wears wooden shoes. The Hawaiian girl wears a grass skirt and a lei, the Spanish girl wears a veil over her hair. The Japanese boy has extremely tilted eyes, and the African-American boy’s face is drawn in black-face. All are representations that were common at the time but can be disturbing to modern fans of animated shorts.

However, all the children cooperate and work together equally. The children all undertake various jobs to clean up Santa’s messy domain. The Dutch boy repeatedly gets into trouble for making noise. First his wooden shoes are too loud (Audrey fixes that by tying pillows to his shoes) but he also bumps into things, knocks things over, and breaks dishes.

The Internet Archive has two versions of Santa’s Surprise. One version is the original cartoon. The second version includes an American Sign Language interpreter. Both versions are very bright and colorful with clear audio. But there are a few scenes cut out of the Sign Language version including:

  • Santa’s song as he delivers the toys  
  • The children planning what to do for Santa
  • The song the children sing as they clean
  • The African-American boy shining Santa’s shoes
  • In fact, all speaking and singing is deleted from the ASL version.

The deleted scenes do not distract from the ASL version although the songs are rather cute especially Santa's song:

“Every once a year when Christmas comes
I pack my sled with dolls and drums.
And I'm on my way with happiness
For little girls and boys.

Oh, there isn't any place too far.
I go wherever children are.
Always on my way with happiness
Wrapped up in fancy toys."

There is one funny mistake at the very end of Santa’s Surprise. The little calendar that the children leave for Santa shows December as having only 30 days not the actual 31.

Hector’s Hectic Life
Next up is a six minute long animated short titled Hector’s Hectic Life. This short was produced by Famous Studios (renamed Paramount Cartoon Studios in 1956) and released by Paramount on November 19, 1948.

I actually remember watching this animated short many times when I was growing up. In this short, Hector the dog lives an easy life. His only problem is that he is very messy and the Swedish housekeeper is tired of his messes. The housekeeper threatens to throw him out in the cold if he makes one more mess.

Of course, right then there is a knock at the door. Hector looks out to see a basket on the stoop. Hector thinks it is a Christmas present for him from Santa Claus. But inside the basket are three adorable little puppies - they all look just like Hector.

The sweet puppies are very rambunctious and very eager to explore and play. Before Hector realizes what’s happening he has one mess after another to clean up.

Will Hector be able to keep his happy home or will the three little puppies cause one mess too many?

Even though the title of this short is Hector’s Hectic Life, Hector does not seem to really be the dog’s name. When the housekeeper calls him by name, she uses the name “Princie”. And, at one point, when Hector / Princie is day dreaming about getting a present from Santa Claus, the name on the present’s tag is “Princie”. I’ve no idea why the dog’s name was changed. Maybe it should be “Prince Hector”?

There is a very funny dream sequence after Hector takes drastic action concerning the puppies. In his dream, a tiny Hector-angel scolds Hector and a tiny red Hector-devil supports his decision. The too sweet voice of the angel and the broad slang of the devil are hilarious:

  • Angel-Hector scolds Hector / Princie, “For shame! Your soul to the devil you have sold, by throwing those puppies out into the cold!” But devil-Hector protests, “Dog gone if that ain’t chinzy! Aww, don’t be a shnook, angel puss. Come down off da clouds. Why should he lose his happy home for them dopes, see?” But angel-Hector is determined and punches devil-Hector away, “No! Those innocent babes, into the cold you’ve driven. Go! Bring them back and all will be forgiven.”

The audio quality of Hector’s Hectic Life is excellent and so is the visual quality. The colors are bright and vivid. Hector is a cute, if somewhat dopey looking, dog and the three little puppies are absolutely adorable, especially when they are defending Hector / Princie. This is a completely delightful little holiday cartoon.

Of course the very best thing about both of these animated shorts is that they are FREE in the Public Domain.

The Internet Archive has three versions of Christmas Comes But Once a Year.

The Internet Archive has only one version of Peace on Earth.
  • Please click this link to go to the Internet Archive and download / watch Peace on Earth.

The Internet Archive also has only one version of Tom and Jerry: The Night Before Christmas.

The Internet Archive has two versions of Santa's Surprise.

The Internet Archive only has one version of Hector's Hectic Life.

Happy Holidays to everyone!
Please remember to give kindness and help to those who need it during the Holidays and all the rest of the new year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hunting Down a Killer

Charles Dickens is probably best known for A Christmas Carol (reviewed by Cheryl M-M here) and several other prolific works including Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations and a great many more serials, short stories, novellas and novels.

Hunted Down is a detective story, and generally not considered one of Dickens' better works. That doesn't mean it's not an entertaining read. Dickens on his worst day is still far better than your average hack.

In most detective stories, you're expected to read between the lines, to look beyond the clues to try to figure out "who dunnit". Also most detective stories are told in a narrative way. The reader listens to the narrator's story and pick certain clues out in order to try to figure out either the perpetrator, the motive, the method, the twist, or any combination thereof. The reader wants to out-detective the detective, and this requires that the reader have a certain amount of trust in what the narrator is telling them.

This is one thing that I felt didn't work well about this story. We never really feel we can trust the narrator to be giving us the straight goods. Without that trust, you can never really go anywhere with your own sleuthing as you read. The reader is just along for the ride, reading until the narrator decides to tell you what happened.

Another thing that I felt wasn't up to Dickens' usual quality was the name he chose for his suspect. Julius Slinkton, although the narrator refers to him mostly as just "Mr. Slinkton". It takes little imagination to come up with a name that wouldn't arouse suspicion in the reader. Bob Massey. Shannon Daniels. Rodney Howard. Ashton Gregory. Clement Rice. Scott Patterson. See? Not hard. "Slinkton" sounds obvious. It sounds cartoonish. He might as well have named him "Nasty McBadguy". If you want to make it clear to the reader that he's the suspect that's one thing, but you can do that equally well without the cartoonish name.

Julius Slinkton is suspected by the detective of being a serial poisoner. People around him just have a way of getting ill and dying. Through interviews and detective work, the narrator builds a case against Slinkton, but the detective is unknowingly working against the clock. Suspicious of the detective's intense interest in him, Slinkton has one more life to take and if he succeeds, the detective's work will be for nought.

Written in the middle of the Victorian era, this story provides us with a small slice of Victorian culture. This does lead to a very "prim and proper" air to a lot of the character interactions, but also produces a very descriptive narrative and dramatic intensity that provides most of the meat of the story.

The story gets off to a bit of a slow start, but builds to a satisfying conclusion in spite of its faults. I quite enjoyed it.

Originally published in the New York Ledger in 1859, Hunted Down is in the public domain. The story takes about 45-50 minutes depending on your reading speed.

Download the story at Feedbooks

Listen to the story read aloud by SGA at Librivox (58 minutes)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chrome Themes: Feathered

 Feathered by Gen Xavier. Download here or here.

What you'll need:
A Chromium-based browser like Iron or Dragon.
Utility to unzip files. We like PeaZip.

How to install:
Download the zipped file which includes screen shots and the .crx file.
Double click the .crx file to add it to your chromium-based browser.
If that doesn't work, drag and drop the .crx file into your browser to install it manually.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812-1870) was an English writer, social critic and is regarded as one of the greatest novelists of the Victorian era.

The Christmas Carol is a Christmas favourite all over the world.

Who can resist the story of the crotchety old miser, who is confronted with his past and present mistakes, and the possible consequences of his choices. The essence of goodwill towards all is hidden within the folds of this story.

The story starts with Scrooge contemplating his ex-business partner Marley, who died seven years ago. Perhaps the time of year has been able to worm its way into even the coldest of hearts.
Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.
Scrooge didn't mind being feared or disliked, in fact he kind of enjoyed it. Being feared fills him with a sense of power. He can decide the fate of a family at a mere whim.
"A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!" cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew. "Bah!" said Scrooge. "Humbug!"
His nephew is full of Christmas joy and spirit. He believes it is the only time of the year when those who have more tend to look favourably upon those who don't.
the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave,
Scrooge sends the needy packing and especially those who seek to help the poor. After rejecting the donation seeking gentlemen, Scrooge returns home to find the face of Marley in his door-knocker. Of all the places to hang around waiting to haunt someone.

He decides it must have been his imagination and proceeds to lock himself in his bedchamber to enjoy his gruel. Then all of a sudden all of the bells in the house start ringing.
"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost "Or would you know," pursued the Ghost, "the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself?
Marley complains about not being able to rest since his death. Having to wander the spheres dragging the tedious chains of his existence along behind him. He is here to warn Scrooge about not ending up like him.There is still time to change his inevitable fate.
"You will be haunted," resumed the Ghost, "by Three Spirits. Without their visits," said the Ghost, "you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first to-morrow when the bell tolls One."
 Who and what are you?" Scrooge demanded."I am the Ghost of Christmas Past."
The Ghost of Christmas Past is his childhood and Scrooge is flooded by images, thoughts, hopes and feelings of joy. Taken back to a time when he still had hope and didn't cringe at the mere thought of generosity.
"The school is not quite deserted," said the Ghost. "A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still."
A lonely boy, who lives vicariously through his books, which is why the moment in the past is filled with many known characters from his childhood books. Ali Baba, Robinson Crusoe and even a parrot or two. He remembers his kind sister, who was always in his corner. All this makes Ebenezer pause and think, but only for a second mind you.

That which promised happiness when we were one in heart is fraught with misery now that we are two. How often and how keenly I have thought of this I will not say. It is enough that I have thought of it, and can release you.
Ebenezer watches the painful interaction between himself and the young lady he once held dear to his heart. She releases him from their agreement, because she believes he will eventually hold her dowerless state against her.

Money, wealth and status is more important to him than love.The Ghost of the Past shows him what his life could have been. The wife, child and grandchildren he will never have. The Ghost of Present shows him how his actions have repercussions for others.
In easy state upon this couch there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see; who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty's horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge as he came peeping round the door.
The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to his nephew's house. A house filled with a loving family, who enjoy every moment of joy they have together. In their midst is the youngest child Tiny Tim, a sickly feeble crippled child. Scrooge asks the Ghost of Christmas Past, whether Tim will survive.
"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."
The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come takes him to the scenes after his own death. At first he doesn't realise that the people speak of him, especially in such a hateful way. No person is sorry he is dead.
"This is the end of it, you see! He frightened every one away from him when he was alive.He lay, in the dark, empty house, with not a man, a woman, or a child to say he was kind to me in this or that, and for the memory of one kind word I will be kind to him 
This last dire look at his demise is what makes things click in his head. A person always has the ability to change the way they behave towards others. There is always room for development and acquisition of new knowledge. Leopards can add stripes to their spots.
"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!"
Scrooge truly learns his lesson from this interesting journey through the life he has lived and the life he is destined to live unless he changes the way he embraces his life and that of others.

Dickens does love to add a moral to his stories, in hopes perhaps that someone will read, halt and take his words on board. In The Christmas Carol the reader is invited to question himself and perhaps others in the hope we realise something quite simple.Treat others, as you yourself wish to be treated.

Each act of kindness creates an echo of waves, which vibrates from person to person and through time. Those are the moments we should want to remember when we are visited by our own Ghosts of the Past, Present and Yet to Come.

For free downloads of the above story and more by Charles Dickens
Download to read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at the Internet Archive here.
Download to read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens at the Internet Archive here.
Download to listen to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at Librivox here.
Download to read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at Feedbooks here.
Download to read The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens at Feedbooks here.
Download to listen to a variety of work by Charles Dickens at Librivox here.
Read Somebody's Luggage or Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens right here on the blog.