“A Christmas Carol” has a very special place in my heart. As a child, every Christmas Eve included listening to a cassette version of the Orson Wells produced “A Christmas Carol'' (1939) featuring Lionel Barrymore.
More recently, my family has been involved with local productions of “A Christmas Carol” for several years. My son even got to play Tiny Tim.
The year he played this role, some of his friend’s parents were worried that this ghost story would be too intense for their children. Well, that does depend on the production. But the story that stresses the importance of kindness and the power of redemption is powerful for any age.
For smaller children, our household heartily suggests starting with the “Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992). The script is similar to the script we have used for more traditional productions. But the children will be delighted by the Muppet cast that includes Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.
Scrooge is played by Michael Caine. And the ghosts are delightful. Marley is turned into the Marley Brothers, played by the adorably cranky Waldorf and Statler. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is a bit darker (as is the case in each production) but brings Scrooge to see some vignettes that showcase some great muppet characters.
There is a much shorter and lighter version available for younger children available. “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” (1983) is 26 minutes and stars a cast of Disney favorites that most children will recognize.
Of course Disney also offers their 2009 animated version of “A Christmas Carol” featuring Jim Carey as Scrooge. We aren’t the biggest fans of this version. The animation creeped us out.
There are a lot of live action versions available on Amazon Prime. And all of the above versions are currently available on Disney+ so you should find one that will appeal to your family. If you want a more comprehensive list of some of the best film adaptations I found this list that includes many of my favorites!.
If you would like to read to your children you can find the story of Christmas at Fezziwig’s Warehouse here, which tells the tale of a young Ebeneezer Scrooge’s jolly employer.
Why the Big Deal About A Christmas Carol
At the time the story was published, celebrating Christmas was on the decline. More conservative groups, like the Puritans, took offense to the many Pagan traditions embraced by the holiday.
But Dickens used the season as the setting to talk about social injustice, and redemption (which resonated with many Christians). Then he made the foods, carols, and celebrations seem so warm.
This was coupled with the introduction of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert from Germany, just a few years prior. Prince Albert brought many of the German Christmas traditions to England, including the Christmas Tree. While some still worried about the Christmas tree’s pagan roots, A Christmas Carol normalized this tradition.
Let it Inspire
Charles Dickens wanted to share the plight of poverty in England. He wanted to put the focus on the extremes between the classes. We see Scrooge's redemption when he joyfully gives from his heart to the Cratchits, and the charity people.
So this is a great time to think of ways to promote with your children. They can make cards and leave them for homebound neighbors or relatives.
Or they can collect money or toys for an organization like Toys for Tots. Or, as Scrooge sends a prize turkey to the Cratchits, there are organizations like Heifer International where you can donate a flock of chickens to supply eggs to areas with hardships.
The Flavors of Dickens
Food is a big part of the Christmas celebration in a Christmas Carol. The Ghost of Christmas Present is often introduced surrounded by food. And this ghost also recites a mouthwatering list of Christmas delights.
But my favorite is the pudding. It has sentimental value because my daughter has played Martha twice and there is a dialogue that I just love when she arrives home on Christmas day. Belinda exclaims, “Martha, there is such a pudding!” Peter asks if she can smell it to which Martha says, “I can indeed!” They are all filled with such excitement over the day!
So I offer you a pudding recipe from Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen at the North Pole Times.
Tiny Tim’s Christmas Pudding
8 oz chopped suet
1 heaped teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 oz self raising flour
1 lb soft brown sugar
8 oz white breadcrumbs
8 oz sultanas
8 oz raisins
20 oz currants
2 oz chopped almonds
2 oz mixed chopped peel
zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
1 apple peeled. cored, and finely chopped
4 standard eggs
10 fl.oz stout (eg Guinness, or use a porter type stout)
4 tablespoons rum (use a dark, well flavoured one)
Mix thoroughly the suet, flour, breadcrumbs, spices, and sugar.
Mix in the fruit, mixed peel, nuts, chopped apple then the zest.
In a new bowl beat the eggs and add the stout and rum. Add to the dry ingredients, and stir VERY well ( it is best to use a very large bowl).
Cover the bowl and leave overnight.
Grease 2, 2 pint pudding basins and pack the mixture into them.
Cover with greaseproof paper and pudding cloths, tied on with string.
Steam for 8 hours. Cool, and store in a dark, cool, dry cupboard.
To reheat for eating, steam for 2 hours
Cumberland Rum Butter
6 oz unsalted butter
6oz soft dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons dark rum
Blend butter and sugar, add rum slowly, and mix well.
For proof that Santa is real, pick up one of our magical Santa Proof Kits.
Pack into moulds for serving and chill. Remove from fridge just before serving.
As an alternative, you could also try another British classic, Figgy Pudding.