A Dickens Of Christmas Present

The reading of Charles Dickens' classic tale A Christmas Carol has become a holiday tradition for many people who celebrate Christmas. For Gerald Charles Dickens, a descendant of the British literary legend, bringing the story to life is a family tradition. CBS News Correspondent Jose Diaz-Balart reports.

"If I could work my will, every idiot who goes around with 'Merry Christmas' should be boiled with his own pudding!" Gerald, as the well-known character Scrooge, shouts to his audience at the Ojai Valley Inn in Southern California.

Watching the novelist's great-great-grandson exclaim, "Bah, humbug!" is almost like being touched by the spirit of Dickens himself.

"They all have a favorite movie version, and you can see when you're getting towards their favorite bit," Gerald says of his audience. "They sit up in their seats and they start reciting the lines along with you, and it's great."

By performing all 26 characters of the story, this modern-day Dickens may be fulfilling his great-great grandfather's dream.

"He always wanted to be an actor," Gerald says. "As a young man, that was his greatest ambition, and that stayed with him throughout his life."

Charles Dickens' prolific writing kept him from the stage, but he made use of theatrical techniques while putting pen to paper.

"He found he couldn't do dialogue just sitting at a desk so he used to get up, look in a mirror, and just talk as the character," Gerald says. "He'd pull expressions on his face as well, to back the dialogue up. Then as soon as he saw what he wanted to see, he'd go down and write it."

At this time of year, people who celebrate Christmas are asked to remember the spirit of the holiday. To Charles Dickens, that meant the spirits of Christmas - the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

"I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!" Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. "The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this. I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees!"

Gerald Charles Dickens performs at historic inns in the United States each November and December. On Christmas Eve, he will be joining his family. And, yes, he will take turns with them reading his ancestor's classic Christmas tale.

Reported By Jose Diaz-Balart