It’s a Dickens Christmas Y’all!–by T.K. Thorne

Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

It’s a Dickens Christmas Y’all!

Every December, I hide. This has nothing to do with the fact that it’s Christmas and I’m Jewish. Like many Jewish families in the South, I was raised with a Christmas tree and presents in addition to Hanukkah traditions with beautiful menorah candles lit each night and (yea!) more presents.  What kid can complain about that?

No, my allergy to December has to do with my husband. He is a beyond-the-pale Dickens fan. Every iteration of the more than two dozen versions of A Christmas Carol plays on our television repetitively all December.  I head for the hills . . . or at least another room.

But last year at the Left Coast Crime Conference (that’s crime writers, just so you know), someone mentioned a Dickens festival in California.  My ears pricked. (Okay, I wish my ears could prick because it’s so expressive, and I’ve always wanted a fluffy tail too––can’t you just imagine having it drape saucily over your shoulder?  But I digress).

This year is hubby’s 60th birthday and our 30th wedding anniversary.  Seemed like going to a Dicken’s festival would be a great surprise gift. The problem was we live in Alabama and the festival was in California.  I angsted for months about how to plan a secret trip to California. Finally I broke down and told him what I had up my sleeve.

“I’ll arrange the whole thing, if you want to go.”

“I would,” he says, “but why don’t we just go to the one in Tuscumbia, Alabama (2.5 hours away)?


He pulls out a brochure he had put in his drawer (thinking the last thing I would ever want to do was have a Dickens-immersion experience) with info about Tuscumbia’s 9th annual “It’s a Dickens Christmas Y’all!” (And I thought it was just the birthplace of Helen Keller.)


A few days later, he shows me a dapper Victorian costume of Ebenezer Scrooge online. It was so spiffy!  Hubby communicates in code, and it  dawned on me that maybe he was feeling out what I thought about him actually getting it and wearing it to the festival.

If he is going to dress in a top hat, vest, and coat, I am all in. What girl does not want to be Cinderella? Found a red and black gown with black lace sleeves, foo-foo hat, lace white gloves, and a bustle (as close to a tail as I am likely to ever get) and we are going to the ball . . . or 1843 London in Tuscumbia!

Christmas Present, Christmas To Come, Christmas Past, Mr. and Mrs. Scrooge, and Marley’s Ghost
Festivities began Friday night with a feast, a reading from A Christmas Carol, music, and a chef-prepared dinner. Saturday, the streets were closed to traffic, sporting gift venders, snow machines, and horse drawn carriage rides. Scones and hot chocolate (or coffee) awaited with the spirits of Christmas and Marley’s ghost at “Scones and Moans,” poetry readings and song at a mid-19th Century church, a high tea, and cookies with Tiny Tim at the beautiful Cold Water Bookstore.

Such a charming town and charming, warm folks!  We had the best time meeting people and couldn’t walk but a few steps without being asked to pose for a picture with someone.  Paparazzi! 

“There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.”––Dickens

Ironically, sometimes this is a very difficult time of year. Whatever your faith, whatever your situation, I wish you peace and joy now and in the coming year.


T.K. Thorne’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama.  “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” In her newest novel, HOUSE OF ROSE, murder and mayhem mix with a little magic when a police officer discovers she’s a witch.

Both her award-winning debut historical novels, NOAH’S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, tell the stories of unknown women in famous biblical tales—the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. Her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, the inside story of the investigation and trials of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list.

T.K. loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. She writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, often with a dog and a cat vying for her lap.

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