Mickey’s Christmas Carol is one of our favorite holiday films. By the time Christmas Eve arrives we’ve watched Mickey’s Christmas Carol several times throughout the season. Our favorite Disney characters, in our favorite roles, learn lessons we need so much in our lives. We’ve talked before about how Mickey’s Christmas Carols holds a special place in our hearts. This is due to a rather ritualistic (aka almost daily) listening of an old record our parents had during the Christmas season. Incidentally, it was the same record that inspired Walt Disney Studios to create the short film we now watch every year.
When Mickey’s Christmas Carol came out in 1983, it had been over 30 years since anyone had seen Mickey Mouse in a cartoon.
Even with the poor reception from movie critics, Mickey’s Christmas Carol still earned an Oscar nomination that year. And while it didn’t bring home the Oscar, it reminded everyone of the power of Mickey. Hence all those super fashionable Mickey sweatshirts from the 80’s.
With Mickey Mouse in the role of Bob Cratchit, we see our favorite hero put upon by society with hopes that he can survive it.
As a child, seeing Mickey Mouse on screen with all that childlike wonder makes you feel like you belong. Like you and Mickey are the same. As if you can save your whole family if only you work hard enough. So there we are. Sitting on our parents’ bed as children and listening to the story of a Christmas Carol on vinyl, over and over again.
In Mickey’s Christmas Carol we see a sassy Minnie Mouse playing Mrs. Cratchit, sharing her unfavorable thoughts about Scrooge. A clumsy Goofy in the role of Jacob Marley, bringing a little humor to an otherwise serious and scary ghost. And Daisy playing the girl who got away to Scrooge’s younger, better self.
Given that Scrooge McDuck was actually named after Scrooge in A Christmas Carol it’s no surprise that this would be a future role for our favorite billionaire. As children we already knew Scrooge liked money, had a lot of it, and was somewhat miserly. Secretly, we also knew he was able to change, because we had seen Ducktales. And by seeing that Scrooge could change, it helped us to understand that no matter what happened, we too could change. This is such a hopeful story for both kids and grown-ups that no wonder we continue to watch it every single year!
While most everyone had heard the tale of redemption from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol it was a pretty tough sell for children. Both The Stingiest Man in Town and Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol had incorporated music to soften the lessons in years prior. Mickey’s Christmas Carol does the same with some of our favorite songs from the record. And they all line up a slew of lessons that are super important on the cusp of the New Year.
Getting into the Spirit of Christmas
When Charles Dickens decided to write A Christmas Carol, Christmas wasn’t all that popular. In fact, it was considered a “minor holiday.” As Dickens wasn’t in need of retelling the Nativity Story, he decided to tell a completely different kind of story. One that could help humanity remember that Christmas is a time of hope and love and charity and family. The dark and dismal situation in London was in dire need of restoring people’s faith in others and in life itself. He would introduce Christmas dances, Christmas food, Christmas games, and charity as hallmarks of what Christmas should be. So invested in this story was Dickens that he wrote it in six weeks and paid for the printing himself. A Christmas Carol was so popular It sold out by New Years Day.
To stay true to the spirit of the story, the record starts with a song called Oh What a Merry Christmas Day. This song will be stuck in your head for ages. Telling of what Christmas should be these are the ideals we reach for every year.
Money Lessons from A Christmas Carol
The record we always talk about was produced by Disneyland Records and called Dickens’ Christmas Carol by the Walt Disney Players. Three songs; Money, This is the Way Christmas Ought to Be and Being Tight is Not All Right teaches the role of money in all our lives and how its necessary to share it. Charity and giving is always a strong lesson for kids and grown ups alike. In fact, when Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol it was to inspire a sense of hope to the “surplus population.” As a child at age 12, Dickens had to work in a factory when his father was taken to debtors’ prison. As an author, even then on hard times, Dickens was very aware of the disparities between the classes and felt a responsibility to bring them to light.
Walt Disney is often compared to Dickens in regard to his work ethic, vision, understanding, and feelings of social responsibility. While Scrooge has some pretty stringent money beliefs, the main lesson about Money in the Christmas Carol is that it is there to support everyone and deserves your respect. It can be used for good, to help others. It can be used to enjoy life, by using what little you have to bring people together at Christmas. Like Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, played by Donald Duck in his happiest role, shows us, it can help add love and merriment even in the worst of times. Scrooge finally feels what giving feels like when he buys the Christmas meal for the Cratchit family. There is so much good money can do that Scrooge must learn stashing it away while those around him suffer hurts not only others but himself.
The lesson? Money is worthless if you do nothing with it.
The Importance of Family in A Christmas Carol
We learn so much from the Cratchits in A Christmas Carol. In Mickey’s Christmas Carol we see Mickey go to work every day, to a place without heat, and plead for just one day off to spend with his family. This will cost him half a day’s pay. He comes home to a small meal prepared with love by a wife trying to do her best tending to children. Among them, Tiny Tim, a sick invalid that needs more care than anyone in the family can give. But does Tiny Tim care? No. This is a family built on love. We Have Love is another song on the record and one that everyone should listen to.
We also see that it’s family who will remind you of what’s important when you’ve gone too far astray. Thankfully Scrooge has his nephew to keep harassing him, with his best interests at heart of course. But you can’t get blood from a turnip. As the reader, watcher, and listener of this story, we are literally asking Scrooge to give credence to something he has never experienced. From a loveless, sad and neglected childhood himself he doesn’t see family as a source of strength, love or even as part of who he is. It is not until he is shown the Cratchit family that he begins to see something new.
The lesson? Investing in the common welfare of yourself, your family and those around you makes you rich. It will help you see things you never knew existed.
You sometimes need to see to Believe
Scrooge doesn’t listen to his nephew Fred when he tells him it’s important to be with family and visit during the holidays. And he doesn’t believe he needs to change when he sees Marley. The holidays for Scrooge up until this point in his life have been dismal at best. He is reminded of all the people that owe him money and choose to flitter it away on useless holiday nonsense instead. But when Scrooge visits Fezziwig’s with the ghost of Christmas Past, Jiminy Cricket, he’s reminded of what being with people felt like. Mr. Toad plays Fezziwig in all his “wild ride” glory feeling joy for everyone and everything. When the ghost of Christmas present visits, Scrooge sees life going on without him, all around him. Yes, he has money but no one to share it with. With the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Scrooge is shown death. In the cartoon, Scrooge being drawn into the chasm of darkness from the grave by classic Disney villain Pete, is horrifying. Seeing life lived by others differently, and the potential consequence of his actions, makes Scrooge’s decision to change an easy one.
The lesson? If you can’t accept things on faith, then you better be willing to listen to those around you that do.
Transformation requires action
Scrooge’s deliverance and redemption is the result of visits by the three spirits, true. But really, it’s about action. Scrooge could have just as easily woken up the next day and discounted the spirits as a result of bad indigestion as previously assumed. Instead he processed the lessons and decided to take action by buying the Cratchits a turkey. One action. This action, and no doubt many more, led to him becoming like a “second father” to Tiny Tim. The redemption of Scrooge is hard won. It’s no easy task. Set in his ways Scrooge is made to Listen. He must witness his wrongs in the past, see his shortcomings with regret in the present and believe that this future shown to him is true. He then must decide to take action to change it. The transformation of this character is truly one of the grandest proportions.
The lesson? If you change nothing, nothing changes.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol Storybook Record
We love that Disney brings this very grown up story to the screen for kids. For us, with Thanksgiving and Christmas getting all mashed up together post-Halloween our lives fill pretty quickly with stuff to do. It’s easy to forget about the meaning of the holiday and what it’s all about. While Christmas is the most wonderful time of year it can also be the most stressful. More than 50% of Americans think so! And yet every answer you will need to get through the holidays is found in this simple Disney film about a man named Scrooge.
If you want to listen to the record Dickens Christmas Carol by the Walt Disney Players, the entire mp3 can be found here. Or listen through the youtube video below.
We hope you love this as much as we do. And be sure to watch the movie as well.
From our family to yours Merry Christmas Everyone!