A short time back, a good friend was doing an extensive housecleaning of his parents’ home and discovered a few things that he thought I might enjoy. Among the items were eight water-stained, near-crumbling pages from the December 1957 issue of McCall’s magazine. They told the story of Walt Disney’s Christmas Carol, a slightly different take on the Dickens’ classic. Its main character was a mouse.
Just not Mickey.
The story opens like this:
It was Christmas Eve, and up in the garret in a cozy corner back of the chimney, ten little mice were gathered round a candlestick, their ears all set to hear a Christmas story.
"Now, quiet as a mouse, everyone," said their father as he opened a very small book with a worn and faded cover and adjusted his tiny spectacles. "It's a very old story,” he said, “and it’s called A Christmas Carol.
In this version, Bob Cratchet has been replaced by the character of Cedric Mouse. Cedric works for Ebenezer Scrooge as a clock and watch repairman in Scrooge’s Clock Shop. Not unlike Bob, Cedric struggles to care for his family on the mere two pence per week wage that Scrooge pays him.
Gone are Jacob Marley and the Christmas ghosts. Instead, Scrooge’s old grandfather clock comes to life and turns himself years ahead to demonstrate to Scrooge the future consequences of his miserly ways.
As you can see, the illustrations that accompanied the story are simply wonderful. Cedric and his fellow mice are clearly distant cousins to both Cinderella’s loyal friends and Amos from Ben and Me. I especially like the story’s final illustration where Cedric and his family all dance around a Christmas tree--made of watch gears!And the last two paragraphs pay sly homage to the story’s original author:
One of the little mice sitting around the candlestick piped up. "Daddy, that sounds very much like a Christmas story I once overheard the people downstairs reading. Their story was by Charles Dickens."
"Dickens?" said the father with a sly little smile. "The dickens you say!" And he snuffed out the candle with his nightcap. "Now off to bed, everyone, quick like a mouse, and a Merry Christmas to all!"