Exhibit Room 3S: Walt Disney's Christmas Carol

Every Christmas season, I still get emails about Walt Disney's Christmas Carol.

In those very early days of 2719 Hyperion, back in the latter months of 2006, I featured what I thought was an interesting, if rather obscure piece of Disney ephemera from the 1950s.  A friend, upon cleaning out the nooks and crannies of his elderly parents' home, presented me with eight torn, water-stained and near crumbling pages that had been removed from a copy of the December 1957 issue of McCalls magazine.  Contained on those pages was an illustrated holiday vignette entitled Walt Disney's Christmas Carol.  It was a perfect match for my fledgling Disney blog and on December 16, 2006, I posted the article Cedric's Christmas Carol that described what I considered a likely long forgotten piece of holiday nostalgia.

Shortly thereafter, the emails started arriving.  I heard from many fellow baby boomers who distinctly remembered this liberal retelling of the Dickens classic from their childhoods.  For many, it was a holiday tradition to read the story on Christmas Eve.  And every correspondence I received included a request for a copy of the story.

With the launch of the 2719 Hyperion Exhibition Hall, I realized I finally had an ideal forum in which to make available the complete text and illustrations of Walt Disney's Christmas Carol.  Enjoy!

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Walt Disney's Christmas Carol

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."

And now to begin -

It was a cold, bleak morning on the day before Christmas, and Cedric Mouse scurried down Market Street along a path left in the deep snow by the carriage wheels.  It was the best way to travel if you were a mouse and in a great hurry and didn't worry about being run over. Right now Cedric's only worry was being late for work. Today he was going to ask his employer, Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge, for a very special favor—Christ­mas Day off to spend with his family. If he were late his request would most certainly be turned down and, still worse, he might even lose his job.

Cedric was a clock-and-watch repairman at Scrooge's Clock Shop, a trade he'd learned as a very young mouse. His family had lived inside the great big clock up in the church steeple, and every day young Cedric Mouse would run up the clock to watch the wonderful machinery that turned the big hands. Sometimes when he was very small he would hang on to the big cogwheel and ride it round and round. At first he could make no sense out of the jumble of wheels and springs. All he knew was that it was fun to ride the cogwheel as if it were a Ferris wheel and to run up and down the big hands. But Cedric was a smart mouse, and before very long he'd figured out what all the parts were doing and just exactly what made the big clock tick.

When Cedric grew up and was in need of a job to support his own family, his many hours of schooling in the big clock had come in handy and he'd become a skilled workman.  He was the only clock-and-watch repairman in town who could explore the inside of a clock without taking it apart. He'd just hop inside and climb around the machinery. And only Cedric could repair the smallest watch without using an eyeglass.

He'd worked for Mr. Scrooge nearly eight months now at the very small wage of twopence per week and with never a day off. But Cedric didn't complain. In those days mice were not too well thought of, and so of course he was lucky to have a job of any kind.

As Cedric raced along through the snow, he kept a sharp eye on the big clock up in the church steeple, the very clock that he had grown up in.  Less than two minutes till seven and the clock shop was still a block down the street. He'd be late if he didn't hitch a ride. Just then he heard a rumbling noise behind him and jumped out of the way as some young boys raced by, dragging behind them a great Yule log. Their faces were rosy and they wore holly wreaths draped around their necks. Cedric watched the happy scene. Then he saw his chance for a fast ride. He hopped aboard the Yule log and clung to it as the boys rushed down the street. A sprig of holly flew onto his hat but he was so busy hanging on to the log he didn't even notice. In this way he quickly arrived at the clock shop. He leaped off onto the step and slipped under the door just as the room full of clocks was striking the hour. He'd made it.

"Good morning, Mr. Scrooge!" cried Cedric cheerfully. "And a Merry Christmas to you, sir!"

"Bah! Humbug!" growled the old man. "And a humbug to Christmas!"

Mr. Scrooge sat hunched over a small stove like some fierce old bird, his sharp nose and stern chin outlined by the firelight. He peered down at the tiny mouse. "Take that silly sprig of holly off your hat, Mouse," he snarled. "You're not a tree, you know."

Cedric snatched the holly off his hat and quickly dropped it behind him.

"What right have you to be merry?" said Scrooge. "You're so poor you don't know where your next bit of cheese is coming from. What is Christmas to you but a time for finding yourself a little older and a little poorer? If I had it my way there would be no Merry Christmas, no Christmas at all, especially for little insignificant mice. Humbug, I say!"

"I'm sorry you feel that way," said Cedric, "but to me Christmas is a wonderful time, a good time, a time of forgiving, a charitable, pleasant time. . ."

"Let me hear another word from you," warned Scrooge, "and you'll celebrate Christmas by losing your job. Now be off to work, you little pipsqueak! And humbug to Christmas, I say!"

In his haste to get going, Cedric stepped back and tripped over the holly sprig that was lying on the floor behind him. He went sprawling, but in a twinkling he was on his feet and scampered off to the back room and up a chair leg to his workbench. Quickly he removed his hat and coat, rolled up his sleeves and set to work. There were two mantel clocks and three watches to be repaired. It was more than a day's work, but if he kept at it without stopping for lunch—his usual small sack of crumbs—he might finish by closing time. Then he'd ask Mr. Scrooge for Christmas Day off. I'm sure it's a reasonable request, thought Cedric; almost every­one's free to do as he pleases on Christmas.

And what a wonderful Christmas he'd planned! A whole day of feasting and singing and playing games. He'd saved his pennies the past three months for this wonderful occasion and on his way home he'd buy a fine Cheddar cheese and a box of Christmas cakes. What a grand surprise it would be! What a wonderful treat for Cedric to spend a whole day with his family!

It was growing dark by the time Scrooge had finished his rounds, delivering clocks and watches. The wind howled along the street, rattling the shutters and whipping snow off the rooftops.  He came to the door of his shop and, looking dwn, saw two tiny, shivering, ragged little mice waiting outside.

"What are you doing here?" the old man shouted at them.  "I have no more jobs for mice.  I don't want any mice hanging around this place taking bits of cheese and bread.  Be off with you!"

The  little mice took off their knitted caps and one of them said, "Mr. Scrooge, we are the sons of Cedric Mouse, who works for you. I am Tiny Tick, he is Tiny Tock, and Merry Christmas to you, sir."

"Humbug!" growled Scrooge.

The little mice shivered a little—they were frightened of Scrooge—but Tiny Tick bravely went on talking: "We're waiting to go home with our father. We came to meet him because it is Christmas Eve."

"Bah! Humbug'" said Scrooge, and he rushed past them into the shop, his boots narrowly missing Tiny Tick and Tiny Tock.

It was after six o'clock, ten minutes past closing tirne. and Cedric had just finished his work. The two clocks and three watches were all in fine running order, and Cedric was waiting by the door, hat in hand, when Scrooge walked in.

 "Mr. Scrooge, sir," he said, "if you don't mind, I'd like to have a word with you, sir."

"You'll want the whole day of tomorrow off, I suppose," said Scrooge.

"If it's quite convenient. sir.

"It's not convenient,- said Scrooge,"and you're not getting a day off to celebrate nonsense, if that's what you're thinking."

"It's only once a year, sir."

"Humbug!" growled Scrooge.  "Just be here all the earlier in the morning."

"Then humbug to you!" cried Cedric, shaking a tiny fist at the old man. "I'll not be back tomorrow or any other day!"

"Humbug!" said Scrooge.

"Double humbug!" shouted Cedric, and he scrambled under the door and off into the night, leaving Scrooge in a trembling, speechless rage. No one had ever dared stand up to Old Scrooge this way. No man—and certainly no mouse.

But Cedric had forgotten the fact that he was a mere mouse, and he'd lost his temper. Now he was out of a job, and with a wife and fourteen children to feed, it was a serious problem. There was no telling how long it might be before he'd find more work, so of course they'd have to stretch their pennies a long way. There'd be no Christmas celebration this year.

Outside the shop he saw his two sons waiting for him. He tried to look cheerful but the best he could do was put on just a weak little smile. The three mice walked home, no one saying very much.

As for Scrooge, after closing his shop the dreary old man stopped at his usual dreary tavern for his usual dreary supper. After reading the evening papers he went home to bed. His house was a dark and gloomy place, for no one lived there but Scrooge.  On this blustery night the old structure creaked and groaned and was full of rumblings and strange echoes, but Scrooge was used to them. He snuffed out the candle and laid back on his pillow.

Then suddenly he sat up!  Something had crashed in his ears.  "Bong!  Bong!"  Scrooge was terrified.  He peered into the gloom.  "Bong!  Bong!"  He could barely make out a tall,ghostly shape.

"Who are you?" cried the terrified Scrooge. "Show yourself!"


Scrooge shuddered at the thunderous sound. Then, his eyes becoming accustomed to the gloom, he realized that his old grand­father's clock had moved before his bed. "What are you doing here? Get back in the corner on the stairs!" he said.

He sat up in bed, his eyes popping, as from inside the clock he heard a deep, unearthly voice. "Quiet, Scrooge. This is Time talking. I have been watching you all these years.  I know everything that you do, how selfish you are. I know how you feel about Christmas."

Scrooge sat there, pale as the bedclothes.

"Come with me," the clock said. A long, thin hand reached out and beckoned to Scrooge.

"Where?" Scrooge cried. "Where are you—I mean we—going?" His voice cracked as he spoke.

Come with me," said the clock again. Even though he tried to resist, Scrooge found himself moving toward the clock. He reached out to steady himself, and as his hands touched the clock it slowly began to rise.

"I'm a mortal," pleaded Scrooge. "I'm liable to fall." But he was rising along with the clock, floating mysteriously through space. The walls of the room seemed to melt away, and out of the fog and darkness the city appeared. The buildings were ghostly and strange and the people were like shadows as they went about the streets. Scrooge clung to the clock as it sailed over the roof tops, and he peered down into the gloom.

As the clock swooped down, Scrooge noticed something very familiar about the street he was flying over. Especially about the building they were directly above. The walls were grimy and peeling; the windows were broken and boarded over; and the door, hanging by only one of its hinges, revealed that the interior was empty and deserted. Two men stood in front of the building. They looked familiar too, except that they looked old, very much older than Scrooge remem­bered them.

The clock hovered above them and Scrooge could hear them talking. "And what was this place?" said the man with the long white beard. "I don't remember it at all."

"That," said the other man, who was red-faced and fat, "that was his shop, old Stingy himself. Don't know whatever happened to him. Nobody knows. And what's more, nobody cares. All we do know is that we're glad to be rid of him."

Scrooge, clinging to the clock, realized that they were pointing to what had once been his shop, and they were talking about him. The clock moved on and stopped again over the heads of two children.

"Give me a taste of the cake!" a little girl with bright red hair was asking.

"G'wan," said the little boy.

"Please," said the girl.

"No." said the little boy, hiding the cake behind his back.

The little girl became very angry. She shook her finger in the boy's face so hard that her red braids bounced up and down behind her. "Don't be a Scrooge! Don't you be a mean old nasty old Scrooge!"

Scrooge heard all this and to himself he whispered, "Is this the way I'll be remembered? Will they be glad I'm gone? My name turned into the worst of insults? Are greed and selfishness the only mark of my existence?"

"Exactly." said the clock in its deep and hollow voice. "I've rushed through time with you, Scrooge. I've turned myself years ahead so you could see into the future. Yes, that is the only memory you leave behind. Only greed and selfishness. But then, what else could you expect?"

Scrooge was shivering now, and not because of the biting wind.

The clock went on talking: "Your time has run out, Ebenezer Scrooge; your miserable life has passed. Your time is up!"

"Please, Time, turn back!" pleaded Scrooge. "Please tell me I may have another chance—I'll mend my miserable, selfish ways, I promise. Turn back, Time, please turn back! Let me change the future! Please!"

For the first time in many years Scrooge was sobbing, and he fell upon his knees, pleading with the clock to answer him. Then suddenly out of the fog and darkness his bed appeared and the walls of his room rose up around him. The grandfather clock stood in its usual place in the hall outside his door. And now it was morning and sunlight streamed through his window.

"Bong!" said the old clock, sounding the stroke of nine.  "Bong! Bong! Bong!"

Time, Scrooge realized, was getting shorter every moment. He ran to the window, opened it and  put out his head.  "What's today?" cried Scrooge, calling to a boy on the street.

"Today, sir? Why, it's Christmas Day."

"It's Christmas Day?  Then I haven't missed it!"

"Indeed not, sir."

"Do you know the grocer at the next street corner?"

"I should hope I do."

"Good boy," said Scrooge. "And is he open?"

"He was when I passed."

"Then tell him to stay open till I get there and I'll give you a shilling—no, I'll make it a half crown."

"Thank you, Mr. Scrooge, and a Merry Christmas, sir!" And the boy was away like a shot.

Scrooge dressed himself in a hurry and in his very best and was soon out on the street. The wind had stopped and it was a dear, crisp, golden day. He passed two men along the way and called out:

"Merry Christmas to you, gentlemen!"

"That can't be Scrooge," said one.

"Certainly, not." said the other, "but there is a great resemblance—remarkable!"

Scrooge was delighted to find there were still a number of turkeys at the grocer's.

"I'll take them all." said the smiling Scrooge, "and this will tell you where to deliver them." He opened his black notebook to a list of all his customers.

"As good as done," said the grocer. "They shall be delivered within the hour."

"And now," said Scrooge, "I'll need an assortment of smaller items—choice delicacies such as fancy cheeses, cinnamon sticks, cherry tarts, crunchy cakes and tidbits of every kind. Two large baskets—full. I'll deliver these myself."

When the baskets were loaded to the bursting point, Scrooge set off down Market Street at a very fast clip for such an old gentle­man in the direction of a certain abandoned warehouse. This was an address he'd found in his notebook under the name of Cedric Mouse. A tiny set of tracks in the snow led to the rear of the build­ing and up to a small door in the crumbling foundation. Scrooge passed by the door a dozen times before he had the courage to go up and knock.

"Good morning, sir," said the smallest voice Scrooge had ever heard.  It was a wee bit of a mouse in tattered shirt and trousers.

"Are you Tiny Tick or Tiny Tock?"

"Tiny Tick," the little mouse replied. He was shaking at the sight of his father's fearsome master.

"Is your father at home?" Scrooge asked.

"I'll fetch him, sir," said Tiny Tick.

It was almost a minute before Cedric cautiously appeared at the door. "Mr. Scrooge—sir?"

"Merry Christmas, Cedric, my good fellow,"greeted Scrooge with a smile so pleasant it could not be mistaken. "If you'll please consider returning to your old job I'll give you a whopping big raise. Still better, I'll make you a partner. What do you say, Cedric?"

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Scrooge!" answered Cedric when he could muster the words. "Bless you, sir!"

"And I have another idea," said Scrooge. "How would you like to come and live at my place? There's a large clock there that I am sure you mice would find comfortable as a house. Tiny Tick and Tiny Tock and the other children could play in the works. If you will come now, we will have ourselves a Christmas party. That is, if it's quite convenient"—with a wink and a chuckle.

"It's quite convenient." Cedric winked back.

That afternoon the whole family was happy in its new clock house. Cedric had made a Christmas tree out of bits of watches that he had found in the shop. Mr. Scrooge himself had gone out to get holly berries to decorate it. Mrs. Mouse had put together a fine feast of cheese and turkey and cakes.

"Bless you!" said Mrs. Mouse, looking up at the jolly face of Mr. Scrooge.

"Bless you, sir!" cried Tiny Tick, his voice loud and brave. "Bless you all!" cried Tiny Tock.

Scrooge was as good as his word. He became a fine friend to Cedric and his family, and Cedric no longer raced frantically to work each morning. He rode very comfortably in Mr. Scrooge's coat pocket.

Scrooge became as good a man as any in the town, and it was said years afterward that Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge was one who could keep Christmas as well as any man alive. . .

"May that truly be said of us," said the father mouse. "All of us." And he closed his tiny book and put away his spectacles. He leaned back and sighed.

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!"

The End