Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dickens of a Christmas

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I am a Young Women leader for Special Needs Mutual in my region. That means that I have six special needs girls in my class, and all their “buddies” who help them as we go through the Young Women program with activities, lessons, and a lot of fun. I’ve been in Special Needs mutual for almost three years and it has been one of the most rewarding callings I’ve ever had. Two weeks ago, I walked into the church library to drop off my class rolls and nametags before I left. Some of the Young Men presidency were in there discussing the Special Needs Christmas party we were going to be doing. The Young Men president turned as I walked in and said, “Aren’t you a writer?”

I looked at him with a bit of bewilderment, but said yes. And he smiled a really big smile, the kind of smile that makes you nervous because you know that person is going to ask you something. And I was right. He said, “Hey, do you think you could write a Christmas Carol play with all the important stuff, but cut down to ten minutes?”

My mind raced over the Christmas Carol story---Scrooge, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, and thought no way. But I looked at the expression on these men’s faces, obviously thinking that since I was a writer I should be able to do that, and so I nodded yes. They were very excited and asked me for the script the next week so they could start rehearsing after that. Oh, and they added, could you throw in a few jokes to make it funny for the kids?

I know you're thinking what I'm thinking at this point. But they were serious.

So I came home and started looking at The Christmas Carol. I knew Dickens would be turning over in his grave at what I was about to do. A Ten Minute Christmas Carol. With jokes thrown in for the Special Needs kids. I hoped Dickens would understand that it was for a good cause.

I started writing the next day. Scrooge was still, of course, the main character, and he had ghostly visitations in the night. But I decided that the ghosts were also comedians that tried to break the ice a little before they got down to business. I asked my kids for Christmas jokes (what did the cow say on Christmas morning? Mooey Christmas!) and carefully threw in a few here and there. For instance, the first ghost joke goes like this:

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Boo who?
Don’t cry, it’s just me, the Ghost of Christmas past!

The second ghost joke goes like this:
Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Justin who?
Justin time to meet me, the Ghost of Christmas present!

I’m sure you get the picture. (Hey, I did my best! It's probably funnier in context.) Anyway, I hatcheted the original Christmas Carol down to a ten minute play, and I think I was still able to keep in the message that Dickens intended, albeit with a few added in jokes. (I hope that if I meet Dickens in heaven someday he’ll just pat me on the shoulder, nod, and smile. In a nice way.)

Tonight is opening night and I’m a teeny bit nervous. I hope the kids laugh and have a good time, and maybe, just maybe, it will give them a little taste of remembering what Christmas is truly about. If nothing else, I hope they’ll have fun watching Scrooge’s change of heart, the love inherent in a true Christmas, and the power of a knock, knock joke. Wish me luck!


At 12/17/2009 12:51 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Julie, I always knew you were a genius! I would have died right there if someone had asked me to write a 10-minute, funny version of A Christmas Carol--in a week! Good luck on opening night and I know it'll be a hit! In fact, I think you just created a new tradition.

At 12/17/2009 7:44 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

I'm with Stephanie. I would have passed out. Way to go, Julie! I'm sure it will be both hilarious and touching. =]

At 12/21/2009 9:35 AM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

This sounds great, Julie :) Hope it went well.


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