Saturday, December 16, 2006

Cedric's Christmas Carol

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In this version, Bob Cratchet has been replaced by the character of Cedric Mouse.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!"


Anonymous said...

My mother used to read Cedric's Christmas Carol to us every Christmas. She had cut it out of a magazine, but I couldn't remember which one. We have been looking for this story for years. Could you possibly scan the whole story and put it on your blog, or attach it to an e-mail and send it to me. We would appreciate that so much. I'm new to blogging and don't know much about it. I'll try to send this and hope it goes through properly. Many thanks in advance. Marilyn

Shari said...

My father has read this to our family every Christmas (he even adjusts his spectacles along with the narrator...his mother read it to him when he was a child. She found it one year and made photo copies for all her kids. I'd love to be able to find it, in color, to give to him. His mother has passed now, so I can't get him a better copy thru her. I tried to find it on Ebay, but I missed the final bid on that. If anyone has it, I'm still looking! (birdgirl94

Unknown said...

I have such wonderful memories of that Christmas story that appeared in the Dec. 1957 issue of McCall's. For years we read it aloud every Christmas, but later lost track of the magazine entirely. Then, yesterday, as luck would have it, while going through my mom's papers, there it was. It almost brought tears to my eyes. A great story and wonderful illustrations. Thanks for the site!