“Timing is everything, in education as in many other fields. It’s not enough to teach well. You have to teach well to kids who are ready to learn, kids who are developmentally ‘ripe’ for learning.”
- Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

RTH: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This is actually the first time I have ever read this book. I've heard the story of course, but it was great to read the book and I believe it is something I will read every Christmas season in the future.

One of my favorite quotes was from Marley. He said "The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!" The purpose of our lives is not to make a lot of money or to obtain a lofty profession. Marley said "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business." That is what should be the focus of our lives. Reaching out, serving, and loving others is the true business of our lives. There is always so much that we can do to help others, and I don't think that we can ever do all that there is to do. "Any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness."

I also liked the attitude of Scrooge's nephew. He told Scrooge "there are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited." There are many good things in this life that are not associated with gain or money. Christmas is especially a time when we can share and feel good friendship, love, and charity. Scrooge later realizes this when he is with the Ghost of Christmas Past. As he watches the party that Fezziwig has, the Spirit asks him what was so special about the party. Fezziwig obviously didn't spend much money on it, so why did he deserve so much praise? Scrooge finally realized what made Fezziwig a good man "He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count 'em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune." Scrooge then realizes that he needs to treat his clerk better. I really think this applies to me as a parent. The way I talk to my children can make a great influence in their lives. I have the ability to make their childhood a "pleasure or a toil", and I don't need tons of money to create good memories and teach my children good lessons.

The good news for Scrooge is that he can change. He realizes that if he changes the course of his life, he can also alter the end. He chooses to "honour Christmas in [his] heart, and try to keep it all the year." The transformation he makes is amazing, and it brings so much joy into his life as he reaches out and helps others. He becomes "as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew." That is what brought happiness to his life at last, and that is what can make each of us happy. As we reach out to those around us, and try to influence their lives for good, we will be blessed with joy beyond measure.

Next month we will be reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Feel free to join in at the Reading Through History Book Club.

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