I had a great time over the weekend reading Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" on my Kindle. We have a big hardcover version, but it's a coffee table type of thing (with annotations and pictures from the George C. Scott TV production some years ago), and I really wanted to focus on the text. Like so many classics, it was a great deal on Kindle, 99 cents.
My boys and I were in the play at Portland Stage Company some years ago (1997-99 for #1 Son, 1998-9 and 2000 or 2001 for Snowman, 1998 for me), so it holds many dear and special memories. The production used as much of the text as possible, and I heard in my reading the voices of the actors from 1998, the year Snowman played Tiny Tim. Both boys had a turn as the young Scrooge, singing "The Holly and the Ivy," and #1 Son got to be Peter Cratchit just before aging out entirely.
The particular beauty of that production was the score, composed by an Englishman and making use of many, many carols we might consider obscure in America. For the first few years, the composer himself sat in a back corner of the stage playing the music. I heard the next music director, in a later year, joking about the specificity of the directions in the score, but that score held magic, Christmas magic.
My favorite memory: being asked to "play" the sleigh bells during the journey with the Ghost of Christmas past. I stood in the music corner, curtained off from the audience but able to see the action on stage, following my cues to ring the bells. In that corner were tiny keyboards and a thunder sheet and every kind of percussion needed to supplement the piano and add texture to the production.
It's possible I had a little crush on the composer/arranger/pianist. In the end, we went out together a few times after Christmas, before that theatrical vagabond moved on to his next gig. But it would have been magical even without a little romance sprinkled on top.
Mostly, I'm glad to have started *and* finished a book at the end of this year of distracted reading.