Reflections from A Christmas Carol

Preface: No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. – Charles Dickens

Reflections from A Christmas Carol

It begins with credit. What does it end with but credit? It is well said that “Animals do not worry about money, only People worry about money.” Charles Dickens’s financial woes in 1843 were no doubt somewhat discouraging to the young thirty-one-year-old father and, he like a few today, was worried about money. Having recently relocated to a more spacious and higher maintenance residence to provide for his growing family of five children, money was tight, and his debt was growing. With a lack of responsible budgeting, i.e., Charles was failing to live with-in his means; the stress was multiplied with dear relatives asking him for money.

With his two recent novels resulting in lackluster sales, his publishers had cut his royalty payments, and he was strapped for cash. The stakes were high, and the financial pressures were growing. Charles Dickens that year may have perceived the Christmas Holiday Season in the following quote “What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer?” The famous book A Christmas Carol was “A Miracle of Christmas” for the young author, which has been adapted as literary work shaping the meaning of the Holiday Season for dozens of decades following.

Today, many have no appreciation of the happiness in avoiding the debtor’s prison, that Charles Dickens knew too well. He was scarred from the childhood trauma from being pulled from school and forced to work in boot-blacking factory, to help his father in Marshalsea debtors prison. It was a burning memory for the young Dickens, and his book describes the brutal terrors of failing on debt payments in that era.

On the contrast, Mr. Scrooges’ journey from an innocent student to the kind Mr. Fezziwig’s office and then onward to the stingy miser, was perhaps or perhaps not a matter of chance. Whether it’s the saddest part of the story or not, Mr. Scrooges likely began his career with good or maybe great intentions, but his decision to remain silent when told to be happy with the life he had chosen, was the moment he realized his incremental steps forward ultimately towards eating porridge for Christmas dinner in a room lit with one candle.

Formally stated, Newton’s third law is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects.

Newton’s law may perhaps be true of Mr. Scrooges’ business partner Mr. Marley. From Mr. Marley’s perspective, the common welfare was not his business interest or practice. He strongly encouraged Mr. Scrooge to amend his ways. And then there was also Newton’s law for Mr. Cratchit. Never allowed to put more coal on the fire to keep warm while at work, while being paid 15 shillings a week, while just caring for his family was enough. Finally, the big turkey arrived from Mr. Scrooge on Christmas Day.

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. – Charles Dickens.

Mr. Marley was in fantasy land, pulling a chain of heavy bank boxes, as well as with his opportunity to redeem his time. Mr. Scrooge was too. We are not. Whether you feel like Charles Dickens, The Cratchit Family, nephew Fred, Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Fezziwig say, this Holiday Season, let us genuinely remember Mr. Scrooges words “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” 

And to our readers, we quote the honorable Tiny Tim, “God bless ‘em, everyone” and Merry Christmas!

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