A Christmas Treasure

We all have family traditions, or family memories that hold an undeniably special place in our hearts. It may be an ornament, a decoration, a special food item, or (in my case) a Christmas Recording.

For me, Christmas would not be Christmas without listening (at least once) to this recording.

Come on FOF, get to it already - what is this "recording" that holds so much meaning to you?

The recording that I am talking about is a vinyl LP (any one actually remember these things?) of "A Christmas Carol". It stars Lionel Barrymore as Ebenezer Scrooge, and is narrated by Richard Hale. This LP is one that my father purchased as a young adult when he bought his first "Hi-Fi" set.

AChristmasCarolFor as far back as I can remember (since I was maybe four or five years old) we have listened to this record. It holds so many memories, both fond and "frightening"

"Frightening" in that I lost my first Grandfather at age 5. (Thus confirming I must have been listening to this recording before I was five years old) because I have memories of being scared that my grandfather would return and visit with me (Much like Jacob Marley did.)

I would (at a young age) get so frightened while listening to this record - that there were times I would close my eyes, and cover my ears, and talk to myself so I did not have to hear Jacob Marley's voice. Yet, as frightened as I was by those portions of the story, I could not resist listening to it, and even asked to "play it again".

That LP became as much a part of my Christmas as our tree, eggnog, and Santa Claus was. I would (often) listen to that LP several times a day. I am (still to this day) able to recite the script, with matching vocal expressions, word for word.

Sadly, the day came when there was no longer a record player in my or my parents house. Thankfully, my father had a friend make a copy of the LP on cassette - and that took the place of the record for many years.

Close to ten years ago, (when eBay was still "fun" to shop) out of curiosity, I ran a search - and found another copy of the record. Wanting a "back up" copy, I IMMEDIATELY put a high bid on it - and won the auction. When it arrived home - I was delighted to find that it was the EXACT same recording, in the EXACT same cover, but with a different Label and Record company.

I started getting curious, and so I started my own little "History's Mysteries" surrounding this wonderful recording. Here is what I found.

Original Record - Lion Records - L70124 - A Christmas Carol - Lionel Barrymore [1959]

eBay purchase - MGM Records - E3222 - A Christmas Carol - Lionel Barrymore [1955-1956]

The MGM recording (eBay purchase) was the original recording of this version of "A Christmas Carol". It was sold as an MGM Labeled Record in their "E series" records.

The Lion Records version of the record was released in 1959. Lion Records was a subsidiary label of MGM Records that produced 12-inch vinyl LP's between 1958 and 1960 when it went defunct.

So, while my dad has (what is in my mind) the "original" LP, I discovered that the copy I own (the eBay purchase) is technically the "original" copy, and the LP I grew up listening to was, in reality, a re-issue.

Around that same time, I paid a co-worker (who was/is big into computers and electronic gadgets) to take my beloved LP, and make a CD version of it as a Christmas gift to my father (and as a back up copy for myself). He did an outstanding job of it - having to make several scans of the LP cover (due to it's size) and pieced them together to make a single color photo for the CD cover. It turned out BEAUTIFULLY!

My CD of "A Christmas Carol" continues to be one of my most prized possessions, and an important part of my Christmas each year!

Does my love affair with "A Christmas Carol" end there? No... No it does not. Stay tuned.


  1. Now, might I recommend digitizing this for your listening pleasure to ensure that this vinyl jewel stays audible for years to come?

  2. I grew up on cassettes however my parents had lots of vinyl. Christmas was always when they were pulled out and Christmas Carol rang through the house.

    Years later I connected it to my computer but never finished the project.

  3. Oh Captain...

    I did just that... As a Christmas gift for my father. It was way back in the infancy of the digital music era, and a co-worker made it into a CD-R playable in CD Players.

    I have (also) since ripped it to MP3 and backed it up.

    I'm "good to go" now! But thanks for the tip regardless!

  4. That is really cool. How much this means to you comes shining through this post. Can't wait to hear the 'rest of the story'.

  5. That does sound like a treasure.

  6. That is cool!

    When I was a kid, our kid's choir would go caroling at the senior living center across the street. There was one resident who must have been a million years old, but he knew 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by heart and he would recite it for us each year.

    I be I heard him recite that poem every year for a dozen years or more.

  7. I hope and pray Lionell Barrymore (Ghost of Christmas Past) or Drew Barrymore (Ghost of Christmas present, don't come knocking on my door for copyright infringement!
    Honestly, these were copies for archive purposes only.


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