Published by Baker Books on September 1, 2020
Genres: Non-Fiction, Devotional, Christmas
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Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol is second only to the nativity story itself when it comes to public consciousness. Just as Jesus Christ changed the world on the night of his birth, so Ebenezer Scrooge changes during a single night of supernatural visitations.
In Keeping Christmas, novelist and Dickens enthusiast Allison Pittman offers 25 readings for advent, seamlessly bringing together the Word of God and the words of A Christmas Carol. This contemplative, entertaining read is the perfect companion for those dark winter nights as we eagerly anticipate the coming celebration of Christmas when, like Scrooge, we are given the gift of reflection, repentance, and life anew.
Beautifully packaged and highly designed throughout, Keeping Christmas is sure to become a treasured family tradition--much like the reading or viewing of A Christmas Carol.
I have to admit, I wasn’t quite sold on A Christmas Carol-themed Advent books. As the tradition of Advent as become more popular outside of liturgical denominations and contexts, Advent devotionals have become sought-after ways of maintaining structure is what is often a very chaotic time. Keeping Christmas rightfully refers to itself as being a book of Advent reflections, not devotions, which is important as it’s primarily looking back to A Christmas Carol and not Scripture. However, as Christmas is inherently—well—Christian, and Dickens incorporates a fair amount of Christian imagery, Keeping Christmas is thoroughly Christ-centered.
Pittman’s qualifications for this book are obvious: four-time Christy Award finalist, Carol Award winner, and part-time English teacher. She’s the perfect person to give us a qualified analysis and reflection on this most classic Christmas literature. Throughout the book, it is obvious that Pittman has done her research. The characters, events, and themes of A Christmas Carol aren’t jumping-off points for whatever it is Pittman wants to say. The book is steeped in the imagery of A Christmas Carol in all its iterations: the book, the theatrical releases, the made-for-TV specials, and even the Muppets version (perhaps the best version, in this reviewer’s humble opinion.) Pittman is just simply well-versed in the story and how it has been portrayed over the past hundred-plus years.
This knowledge means that Pittman isn’t just giving twenty-five high school English lectures. She captures the cultural ethos of A Christmas Carol, from film to TV to the book, and breaks down its symbolism, imagery, and religious backdrop in a way that’s insightful and accessible.
The reflections are meant to run from December 1 to 25, each running about four pages long. It’s a quick 5-10 minute read, a perfect addition to your morning routine, or while you’re waiting in the school pickup line, or anywhere else in the margins of your day. Pittman moves through the book chronologically, meaning that to begin with Marley was dead and to end with Scrooge is truly alive.
Pittman picks up on the obvious, as well as the not-so-obvious. The not-so-obvious (At least to me): Imagery in the ghost of Christmas Present and a very insightful reflection about the butcher whose prize turkey almost went unsold. If you’re a fan of A Christmas Carol or a fan of Dickens and classic literature in general, this is a must-read.