Thursday, December 25, 2014

The 12 Scares of Christmas: The Ghost of Christmas Present


Tonight, we continue a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right.

      The fourth scare of Christmas on our list is the least traditionally ghostly of Charles Dickens' creation: The Ghost of Christmas Present. Unlike Jacob Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Past, this ghost has not come to scare Scrooge; at least at face value. 
EB Image
Alastair Sim and Francis De Wolff in "Scrooge" later known retitled "A Christmas Carol" 1951

      Normally depicted as a fire haired Father Christmas, St. Nicholas and/or Santa Claus figure, the Ghost of Christmas Present is the jolliest, and most inviting of the ghosts, seeming to go easy-- at least at first-- on our protagonist who needs to change. "'Come in!' exclaimed the Ghost. 'Come in! and know me better, man!'" 
   
     For most of his part, the Ghost of Christmas Present is subtle. Showing Scrooge the boisterous happiness of Christmas begins to crack Scrooge's icy exterior. And by showing him the Crachit family on Christmas Eve, and first presenting Scrooge with the problem of Tiny Tim-- the sweet innocent boy who is gravely ill-- the Ghost begins to show Scrooge that which most disturbs him: the chance the Tiny Tim might die.


     This Ghost, however, quickly gets scary. What many adaptations gloss over, change or emit entirely, is the revealation of Ignorance and Want-- portrayed by two almost feral, stricken children emerging from beneath the Ghost's robe-- showing Ebeneezer in frightening detail the enemies that lie just below our present Christmas happiness, and are capable of destroying the spirit of yuletide joy it brings.

Disney's "A Christmas Carol" 2009

     And destroy they do. What is also not always depicted in your average "A Christmas Carol" adaptation, is how the Ghost of Christmas Present leaves Scrooge: in a violent, disturbing death which leaves the literal shell, the skeleton, of the Christmas Spirit that so charmed Scrooge. 

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