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Short Stories 365:350

I think I've mentioned before (and perhaps a few times just in the last few days) how much I love the Charles Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol." It probably sounds incongruous with what you know of my general frustration and distaste with Christmas, but somewhere between the "second chance" of the story and the lovely interplay of the ghosts and - I admit it - that goofy little kid with the crutch - I get a smile on my face.

I think it was born mostly with Alastair Sim, who is still to my mind the best Scrooge in existence. His little dance and song when he wakes upon Christmas morning and realizes he's got another shot? Brilliant. I sought it out on Blu-Ray so I could watch it every year. It was also a rare tradition growing up among my family, and one I loved and adopted into my own routine.

So when I read the first line of the next story in Upon a Midnight Clear and it was obvious we were about to have a Marley-esque moment, I braced myself.

Could I handle someone riffing on a story I hold dear?

"Skating," by Stephen Soucy

It turns out I shouldn't have worried. This story does play on the Marley's ghost idea, but goes in a fresh and interesting direction. A young man who has buried someone he loved has a visit from this man's ghost - and they travel through the Christmas days of their life together, and a chance at a future is offered.

But letting go of that kind of love can be a hard thing to do, and sometimes the chance at something new is a hard thing to risk against the potential for finding it lacking.

This is a gentle story, and right up my alley. Second chances, a dash of magic, and just enough to make you sniffle once or twice.

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