What I'm Reading to my Children this Christmas
'I am very anxious that you should know something about the history of the Lord, Jesus Christ.'
I love a good story. Especially when that story is about a book. Even more so when it tells the tale of how that book ended up in the right hands at just the right moment. This story is about the book The Life of Our Lord by Charles Dickens. It was not that many years ago I first heard the story of this book and how it came to be. Charles Dickens, author of my favorite Christmas story A Christmas Carol, was the father of 10 children. Over the course of a few years, from 1846 to 1849, he wrote down for his young ones what he wanted them to understand from the first and most important of Christmas stories, the birth and life of the Lord, Jesus Christ. In prefacing he writes to his children, 'I am very anxious that you should know something about the history of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him. No one ever lived who was so good, so kind, so gentle...'
'It was, after all, a personal love letter to his children.'
Dickens was adamant that it not be published in his lifetime. It was, after all, a personal love letter to his children. It was guarded as a treasured family secret for eighty-five years until it fell to Dickens' youngest child, Sir Henry Fielding Dickens, who was admonished to not make it known to the world or have it published as long as any child of Dickens lived. Just before Christmas of 1933, Sir Henry died and in his will left the manuscript to his wife. He left it up to her and his children to decide if the manuscript should be published, or not, after his death. By a majority vote, which was the condition Sir Dickens put in place, it was decided it would be published and The Life of Our Lord was 'thus given to the world'.
'I thought an original published in 1934 would be a fun find.'
Great story, isn't it? I thought so and set about to find a copy of the book. It has, of course, been reproduced many, many times but I thought an original published in 1934 would be a fun find. About this same time by mom gave me a box of old books that she had been collecting. She knew that I loved old books and would use a few here and there in my home decor. She had been collecting them as she came upon them, having no idea I was looking for this particular book and having not heard the tale of this particular book herself, she had not been actively looking for it. I don't even need to go on, right--you've already guessed what was in that box. As I leafed through the books, my hands fell on this tiny little volume. There is was, in all its glory--ripped jacket, yellowed pages and musty smell--The Life of our Lord, by Charles Dickens. I have heard it said, a reader does not find a book, a book finds its reader, at just the right moment.
Happy Christmas reading.