Last week the Penguin paperback of my little Christmas book The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge was published. I know it seems annoying for me to be plugging a Christmas book when it’s not even Halloween yet, but in many ways this book could be a good Halloween read. First of all, the book is not set at Christmastime. It is set on the hottest, longest day of summer, as far from Christmas as you can get. My story is about how Ebenezer Scrooge, following his famous transformation on Christmas Eve 1843, carries with him the spirit of Christmas, as Dickens would say, “all the year round.” Scrooge decides that kindness and generosity should not be limited to a single season, and I’m guessing he feels the same way in October as he does in my June story.
The connection between Christmas and generosity brings up an interesting point. What is, after all, our central activity on Halloween (if we are adults)? It’s generosity. Halloween is about opening our doors to strangers and giving them a gift. We do this unquestioningly. We don’t ask for identification or screen trick-or-treaters according to their religious, social, political, or cultural group. We simply open our hearts to them and give them a Snickers. It’s pretty Christmassy if you think about it.
And where did Halloween come from anyway? Like Christmas, it is a co-opted Christian holy day. Christmas may retain more of its religious connection for most people, but we must admit that most of the ways in which we celebrate Christmas are secular. Halloween is the eve of All Saints Day. In our church we often celebrate the vigil of Holy days (Easter, Christmas, and many others) on the evening before. While we are not having a service for All Saints Eve this year, we will have a requiem two days later for All Souls Day. That proximity helps me remember the underpinnings of Halloween.
Finally, there is the question of ghosts. I have no doubt you will see more than one pint-sized ghost on Monday night. So what does that have to do with my book? Scrooge’s story is, first and foremost some would say, a ghost story. Like Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, my book is populated by four ghosts who visit Mr. Scrooge—this time not as frightening specters, but as old friends. Dickens even called his original book “A Ghost Story of Christmas”
So don’t be ashamed to run out and buy a copy (or ten—after all it’s never too early for Christmas shopping) of The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge. It might just be the perfect way to celebrate . . . Halloween.