Magazine article The Nation

A Christmas Carol

Magazine article The Nation

A Christmas Carol

Article excerpt

All right, children, is everybody settled? Good. Stay quiet now, and Uncle Ronald will tell you A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Once upon a time, in the City of London, England, there was an honest, hardworking businessman named Ebenezer Scrooge. With his partner, Jacob Marley, Scrooge founded a small but profitable blacking factory in Cheapside. The Marley died and Scrooge was left to run the business alone, assisted by his clerk, a man named Bob Cratchit. This Cratchi fellow wasn't much help. He was a lazy, worthless agitator type who was always trying to organize the other workers into a union. He kept Cratchit on purely out of the goodness of his heart, because Cratchit had a crippled son named Tiny Tim. Far from showing his gratitude, however, Cratchit accused his employer of violating the child labor laws and threatened to take him to court. Even though Scrooge patiently explained that nobody else would hire 8-year-old children, Cratchit just sneered, "Bah, Humbug!"

This Cratchit had no team spirit whatsoever; he was always trying to shirk his duties and constantly nagging Scrooge for days off. Reminds me of certain Federal employees who are too lazy to work on Martin Luther King's birthday. Nowadays, of course, Cratchit would have been calling for government boondoggles like the Legal Services Corporation and Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and for cuts in defense spending to pay for them.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the straw that broke the camel's back was Cratchit's refusal to work on Christmas Day, even though Scrooge was swamped by the end-of-the-year inventory. I should think that it would have been the essence of the Christmas spirit for him to help poor Scrooge keep his costs down. But no. Cratchit said he'd promised Tiny Tim he'd be home for Christmas dinner, and if he didn't come the boy's heart would be broken. …

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