Partners, Choices and Pathways

Christmas Eve

“I wear the chain I forged in life….I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” 
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Every year at this time, I watch “A Christmas Carol” and consider the relevance of the message within our age.  Charles Dickens, an ardent social critic, understood his audience and the implications of his message. In its time, the book received instant notoriety and acceptance.  The narrative resonated within hearts awakened to the plight of those whom the Industrial Revolution had displaced and forced into poverty.  The universal appeal lies in the belief that a hardened heart can be softened, that generosity and kindness have the power to overcome greed and materialism.

“Marley was dead, to begin with … This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.” 
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

In the end, Ebenezer Scrooge vows, “I will live in the past, the present, and the future. The spirits of all three shall strive within me.”   This is indeed a happy finale.  Yet, my admiration is given to Jacob Marley, doomed to wander the earth with heavy chains forged by greed and selfishness.    Without Jacob, our dear Ebenezer would not have experienced redemption.  Jacob’s warning, given freely and without expectation for recompense, was the ultimate “good deed,” the catalyst for transformation.

The Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley partnership, which began when they were teenagers apprenticed in business, confirms decisions have profound influence on pathways taken.  One choice leads to another and another; life happens almost without notice.

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,’ faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.”

Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” 
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

In many respects, “A Christmas Carol” shares commonalities with the Richard Arkwright story. Consider we are at the beginning of Richard’s journey when he was full of youthful impetuosity and optimism. The partnerships formed during his life shaped his decisions and strategic direction.  In the end, he became a very rich man.

As we experience Christmas Eve, may it be said of us that we know how to keep Christmas well.

“God bless us, every one!”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol