‘Tis the Season – to Try a Little Dickens!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

“Who can listen to objections regarding such a book as this? It seems to me a national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it, a personal kindness.” – William M. Thackeray on A Christmas Carol


It seems an appropriate time to reshare my thoughts on this well-known story, mainly because it’s an opportunity to talk about a book by one of my favorite authors. I know Dickens isn’t for everyone; he can be rather wordy, and many of his novels are REALLY long (like, 600+ pages). His stories always have complex plot lines with lots of characters and interesting twists, and he has created some of the most interesting and memorable characters in all of literature, Ebenezer Scrooge being one of them. Continue reading “‘Tis the Season – to Try a Little Dickens!”

A Fresh Look at the Christmas Story: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

“Just suppose you had never heard the Christmas story, and didn’t know anything about it, and then somebody told it to you. What would you think?”


Before I talk about the book, let me just clarify something. I know that Jesus was not actually born on December 25, and possibly not even in the month of December. However, the birth of Jesus Christ is not only an historical fact, but arguably the most important event to ever occur in history (besides His crucifixion and resurrection). If people consider the births of other men, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln, worthy of recognition (not to mention our own individual birthdays), then it is reasonable to choose a date to commemorate the birth of Christ. And yes, I am also aware that some of the traditions associated with Christmas, like the Christmas tree, have their origins in pagan practices. I see nothing wrong with borrowing practices from other traditions and assigning new meaning to them. So when I refer to the Christmas story, as this book does, I am talking about the birth of Christ as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a hilarious but touching little story about a family of “hoodlums” that hijacks a Sunday School Christmas program.  Now I don’t mean just naughty, disobedient children who don’t listen. I’m talking about six loud, dirty, cigar-smoking, foul-talking, fire-setting vandals – or to put it in the words of the young narrator – the “absolutely worst kids in the history of the world.” All the other kids (and their parents) in the neighborhood  do whatever they can to avoid the Herdmans, so when they show up one Sunday at church looking for free food, no one quite knows what to do. And when they start volunteering to take the major roles in the annual Christmas pageant, everyone is sure the result will be nothing less than a disaster. Continue reading “A Fresh Look at the Christmas Story: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”