NEW YORK (CBSNew York) – âA Christmas Carolâ is a holiday classic that was written almost 200 years ago, but did you know it inspired some traditions we still have today?
Author Charles Dickens has a unique relationship with New York City, and it’s the subject of this week’s Snapshot New York with Steve Overmyer.
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John Kevin Jones at the Merchant’s House Museum is gearing up for a day that has finally arrived – the return of his performance “Christmas Carol”.
âIt’s a lot more moving than I thought. It’s been two years and this story means so much to me, âJones said. “I was personally changed by this story and never thought it would happen to me.”
The Return Escrow is a sold-out show.
Its stage was built in 1832. It’s the Merchant’s House – not only the oldest house in Manhattan, it’s also the most haunted, a perfect place to tell a ghost story.
Surrounded by history, he brings to life a novel that changed history.
Christmas is known for its timeless traditions, but until the release of “A Christmas Carol” tree decorations were old-fashioned, as were Christmas carols.
Before this masterpiece, no one sent Christmas cards. In fact, Christmas was considered a pagan holiday filled with mirth and drunkenness.
While Dickens didn’t create Christmas, he changed the narrative by popularizing empathy for those less fortunate and spending time with family – or what we call the holiday spirit.
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âIt took Charles Dickens to come forward and say, ‘Maybe I can use my art to change what I see and what my world has become,â Jones said.
Ebenezer Scrooge is literature’s most famous silver dealer.
Dickens weaves the story of the meanest person in the world finding his heart. It turns out that Dickens’ real life, Scrooge, could have been America.
Dickens was a superstar author, but in 1843 America had no copywrite laws, so any publisher could reprint Dickens with no benefit to him. He must have made his money by going on tour to read in New York. Dickens gained 19,000 pounds in three months. In today’s money, that’s $ 4.4 million, more than what he earned in his lifetime. Along the way, he made an impact on famous Americans.
âThis is where Edgar Allen Poe met Charles Dickens’ raven,â Jones said.
“Wait, Poe’s crow is about Dickens’ crow?” Overmyer asked.
âWell he met this crow and that’s what inspired himâ¦ Before the crow he had written a poem about a peacock,â Jones said.
âIt would have a different feel if a peacock said ‘never again’,â Overmyer said.
Like Dickens, Jones plays all roles in his performance.
âIt means so much to me that I can spread this joy and this good word and try to affect people’s lives in some way or another like Charles Dickens tried to do with his work,â said Jones. âIt fills me with pride. “
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It is a story that rekindles the spirit of childhood joy, even in the most jaded, reminding us to get in touch with our goodwill. It’s a gift Dickens has been giving us since Christmas.