Julia Buckley was born five days after Christmas and was sent home from the hospital in a Christmas stocking; perhaps that's why she has always loved the Christmas season and all its attendant joys. She writes the Undercover Dish Mysteries and the Writer's Apprentice mysteries, and has just completed Book One in a The Hungarian Tea House series. Learn more about Julia and her books at her website.
I love the Christmas season, and I find great joy and comfort in the decorations I put up each year. It was a tradition that both of my sons would get one new ornament each year, so our tree has many wonderful memories hanging on its branches.
You can see our traditional tree behind Panther up there in the corner, and then two ornaments that my boys made when they were in pre-school—treasured more than anything else on the tree. The “hope” ornament came from a Secret Santa and has provided much encouragement over the last few years, as has the straw star that is reminiscent of the beautiful German ornaments my late mother would hang on our family tree.
I think my favorite ornament, though, is the one in the last box—a depiction of Bob Cratchitt with his son Timothy Cratchit, famously known as Tiny Tim. This father/son duo from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has come to symbolize the beauty of familial devotion and, with the involvement of Scrooge, the possibilities for love, redemption and joy that Christmas can bring.
When the curmudgeonly and grasping Scrooge first meets Tiny Tim, he is supported on his father’s shoulder. The child walks with a cane, and his “limbs supported by an iron frame.” Scrooge is told by the Ghost of Christmas future that Tiny Tim will die of his ailments unless something is done to change his fate.
In the meantime, the reader sees Bob Cratchit’s absolute devotion to his youngest son, even though the son is a burden on the family. Bob cannot imagine life without his boy, something Scrooge does not understand until his eyes are opened, and his heart is magnified by a new awareness.
In this passage, we learn of little Timothy’s gift for philosophy:
“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart’s content.
“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”
Though Tiny Tim is a minor character, it is he more than anyone else who appeals to Scrooge’s miserly heart, and it is his father more than anyone else who makes Scrooge see what it is to love a child, and why it is important to love and care for all children. It is eventually understood that the author uses childhood to represent our purest vision for the world. Dickens sums this up nicely in Stave III, when Scrooge is allowed, through a ghost, to witness a holiday party at his nephew’s house.
“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”
I love books, I have always been inspired by great literature, and I’m a sucker for any literary allusions, so it’s not surprising that a Dickens Christmas ornament is on my list of favorites. This one little cloth ornament depicting a father’s love holds many holiday-appropriate symbols, the best of which is the idea that we can all be redeemed through good works, just as Scrooge, so cold and callous at the beginning of the novella, was transformed into a good man by its end. “To Tiny Tim,” we are told, “Scrooge became a second father.”
Every year my Bob and Tim ornament reminds me of the hope of the season (and in fact it hangs just under my hope ornament). It encourages me to offer support to others when I can, and it verifies the power of a good book.
Don’t get me started on good books! That’s a topic for another blog post.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays to all!
Cheddar Off Dead
The Christmas holidays are one of Lilah’s favorite times of the year, filled with friends, family, and, of course, tons of food orders for her covered dish clients. But Lilah’s Yuletide cheer ends when she sees a most Grinch-like crime: the murder of a Santa in a school parking lot.
It turns out the deceased Kris Kringle was a complicated tangle of naughty and nice, with a long list of people who might have wanted him dead. And whoever did the deed wants to make sure that Lilah keeps quiet. Now, Lilah will have to team up with her former fling, Detective Jay Parker, to unwrap the mysteries of a deadly Christmas killer and stay alive long enough to ring in the New Year...