Monday, September 29, 2008

Spirit of Christmas?

One of my very large pet peeves is the rush for stores to push out their Christmas items. It seems as though Halloween is barely over and stores start setting out the plastic Santa Clauses and Christmas Trees. And here I sit with Halloween almost a month away talking about Christmas. However, it isn't exactly Christmas I want to talk about but the "Spirit" of Christmas which is something I feel we should have in our hearts all year round.

I just finished listening to the original version of Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Carol". I say listening rather than reading because this edition happened to be an audio book on CD. For some time now I've been kind of addicted to audio books, particularly when driving. I've always been an avid reader of all things and audio books is just another way to enjoy a good story when I'm not able to actually read. (You really shouldn't be reading when you're driving)

This particular book happened to be narrated by Jim Dale. He is without question my favorite narrator. He is probably most well known for his performances of the audio versions of the Harry Potter series. (Another series of books I highly recommend) But he also has some great recordings of the original Peter Pan novel and the prequels to Peter Pan, "Peter and the Starcatchers", as well as, "Peter and the Shadow Thieves". If you've ever asked yourself how Peter got to Neverland in the first place, or how he was able to fly WITHOUT fairy dust you simply have got to check out the two books above or for extra pleasure, check out the audio versions of these performed by Jim Dale. (The Bismarck Public Library has got audio books for all the above)

I told myself after that last novel on patience I would try very hard to shorten these down and i'm failing miserably. I mean 3 paragraphs of introduction and I still haven't got to the spirit of Christmas yet, c'mon!

I enjoy stories read by Jim Dale because he uses different voices for the characters, as all good storytellers will do, but I feel it takes effort to not only change your voice but to add all the various emotions to the tone of what is being said so you truly believe these are different people. When Scrooge was in the middle of his visit with the ghost of Christmas past, he begins to start feeling some regret at the life he has lived for so long. Scrooge tells the spirit that there was a young man singing a carol and he had slammed the door in his face and how he would have liked instead to give him something for his trouble. The remorse in Jim Dale's voice was so realistic my eyes started to water. (My wife is reading this and saying, "that cold fish?") I love you too, honey *hugs*. This is the by George truth, I almost started weeping that Scrooge was feeling sorry for his actions. And we hadn't even gotten to the really sad stuff with Tiny Tim yet.

Another peeve is when people spoil a good story for me so I'll try not to give you too many details. But again at the end, when Scrooge "wakes up" and turns over a new leaf. He is as giddy as a child who just got the gift they always wanted for Christmas. The laughter and the tone in Jim Dale's voice now almost had me running off the road I couldn't contain my excitement and laughter. *LOL* (sometimes you shouldn't listen to books while driving either).

Would that we all could act like the new and improved Ebeneezer Scrooge year round. Sometimes I think we all should get a visit from three ghosts in the middle of the night to open our eyes to what is truly important in the short time we spend on this earth. Instead of being cranky complainers, it is high time we turned into happy encouragers, not just in these troubling times but all year round.

In the meantime, check out a good audio book, you'll be glad you did.
Happy Christmas!!

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