Honoring His Great-Great Grandfather — Author Charles Dickens!

Share Now

Each moment you spend with your children is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live that moment together. The same is true for each moment you spend with others you hold dear — your husband, your parents, your grandparents, your friends, your brothers and sisters in Christ.

On Wednesday afternoon Ray and I drove to Hermitage, Tennessee, for a very unusual once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The beautiful, rolling 1120-acre estate of President Andrew Jackson — one of the three most visited presidential homes in America, along with Monticello and Mount Vernon — is an hour and a half away from our driveway. There in the Cabin by the Spring, built on the grounds in the 1950s to host special events, we watched Gerald Dickens from the United Kingdom present his one-man rendition of A Christmas Carol by his great-great-grandfather Charles Dickens. This performance was one event on Mr. Dickens’ November 3 to December 17 American tour.

Charles Dickens is one Ray’s and my favorite authors. Before our children married, Ray read David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and A Christmas Carol aloud to our family.

My first visit to The Hermitage was when my mama and daddy took my brother Steve and me there when I was a girl. Ray’s first visit was on a school field trip in the sixth grade. We have visited The Hermitage with our family; and almost three years ago, we visited it on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans.

The Hermitage in 2014 on the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans
The Hermitage in 2014 on the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans

Like every person who has ever lived except Jesus, President Andrew Jackson was a mixture of someone who is a sinner and a person who was created in the image of God. When I think of his order to remove Native Americans from their homelands and the resulting Trail of Tears and of the slaves who worked on his plantation, I cringe and shake my head in disbelief. When I think of his devotion to his beloved wife Rachel and to their family and to the positive things he did for our country, I stand in awe. Oh, how we all need our Savior.

Rachel's Tomb
Rachel’s Tomb

The Hermitage is a beautiful and peaceful place today. It is a place to learn history and to ponder the realities of our sin and of our reflection of our Creator. I love to go there. Tourists to The Hermitage walk winding trails like this one, pictured in 2014.

The Hermitage in 2014 on the Day of the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans
Pathway on The Hermitage Estate

Wednesday evening was our first visit at night. We followed a dimly-lit pathway similar to the one above. We found our seats.

At Dickens at Hermitage

We enjoyed the simple candles in the windows . . .

Window at Hermitage dickens

. . . and the simple Christmas decor on the ceiling.

Ceiling Dickens Hermitage Christmas Light

And on a small stage set before a real fire in the Cabin by the Spring, . . .

Dickens set hermitage

. . . we experienced the power of Charles Dickens’ story of redemption — redemption Scrooge, Andrew Jackson, and all of us need — as his great-great-grandson portrayed all of the characters. We received his final blessing in the words of Tiny Tim: “God Bless Us Every One.”

One of my favorite once-in-a-lifetime moments was when Gerald Dickens quoted this line from A Christmas Carol:

. . . “it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”

After the well-deserved standing ovation, we joined in the long line — or queue as they say in England — to wait for our turn to shake the hand of Gerald Charles Dickens — yes, his middle name is Charles! — and have him sign our copy of A Christmas Carol . . . 

Gerald Charles Dickens and Two Fans
Gerald Charles Dickens and Two Fans

. . . grateful for our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness a great-great-grandson keep alive the heritage of his famous ancestor.

Posterity will serve Him;
It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation.
They will come and will declare His righteousness
To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.
Psalm 22:30-31

Share Now


  1. Looks like a wonderful time! Our family loves things like this. We live in east TN and have not been to the Hermitage….we need to correct that!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *