Updated: Sep 14
Michael Caine and Steve (‘Kermit’) Whitmire. Image credit: the Jim Henson Company via IMDb.
Author's note: The following short creative piece of just under 500 words is a reimagining of part of Jim Henson's 1992 production A Muppet Christmas Carol, based (faithfully) on Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. I tasked myself with a reimagining of the three spirits in Henson's inspired production, and of the ephemeral Ghost of Christmas Past in particular.
To find yourself cast by Charles ‘The Great Gonzo’ Dickens in the role of a disembodied ephemeral Muppet in the spirit realm was to be viewed by every other Muppet spirit that inhabited that dominion as being inferior in kind. For they would announce, ad nauseam, that you were neither here nor there – always coming and going; that they just couldn’t get a fix on you and, with a wink and a nudge, note they could see right through you. All of which was rich comment indeed coming from any Muppet who had also passed their ‘Use by Date,’ been dispossessed of their reticulated polyfoam body, and taken on ghostly form. They simply could not square the logic that they, too, were not what they once were, any more than their ephemeral brothers or sisters.
In death, as in life (or whatever we might term those states for non-sentient entities), Muppets are most like humans in one key regard － they possess the same strengths and shortcomings of character. That being so, it was little wonder that Jacob and Robert Marley – you know, Statler and Waldorf – being acrid of nature, had no hesitation in announcing that a nameless ephemeral childlike Ghost of Christmas Past would be the first to visit Michael ‘Scrooge’ Caine at the unearthly hour of one o’clock on a bitterly cold Christmas Day morning to get him to repent his wicked ways. If Charles ‘The Great Gonzo’ Dickens required Statler and Waldorf to drop by, then so too could an ephemeral spirit at the bottom of the polyfoam food chain; not that the spirit minded one way or the other, as she… he… it could never maintain a form, or opinion, for long enough.
Mind, some spirits – like the Ghost of Christmas Present – revelled in the prospect of confronting the tight-fisted, squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner, Scrooge, and thawing his cold, hard, and sharp as flint heart.¹ The Ghost of Christmas Present thought the ephemeral spirit had cracked it when it took Scrooge off to visit Fozziwig ‘Fozzie’ Bear, but alas, any positive redemptive change was short-lived. Neither (as Rizzo the rat noted) could Scrooge’s heart be thawed by the charity collectors Dr Bunsen and Beaker, Bob ‘Kermit’ Cratchit, Mrs ‘Piggy’ Cratchit, Tiny ‘Robin the Frog’ Tim, or a host of others. It is as well, therefore, that The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was available for a last-minute guest appearance, or all might have been for nought! It caused The Swedish Chef and Animal to shout ‘Party!’ again, of which the dancing Fozziwig approved.
The Ephemeral First of the Three Spirits (or Ghost of Christmas Past). Image credit: the Jim Henson Company via IMDb.
Scrooge saved himself, as we know, and although he no longer had further contact with Muppet Spirits, it was ever afterwards said of him he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any person alive possessed the knowledge. May that be said of us, dear Reader, and all of us! And so, as Robin the Frog observed, ‘God bless Us, Every One!’
Dickens, Charles, A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Books (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)
Citation for this post (MHRA - Modern Humanities Research Association). Please use:
Priestley, James, ‘A Muppet Christmas Carol: The Missing Stave’, A Muppet Christmas Carol: The Missing Stave, 2022 <https://www.jppriestley.com/post/a-muppet-christmas-carol-the-missing-stave> [accessed D/M/Y]
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