Kevin Patrick Law - December 2019


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A Closer Look at Dickens

‘A Christmas Carol’ Tops My December Reading List

As a history major and fan of Victorian literature, it surprised me when I realized this month that I’d never read the original version of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Picking it up as my diversion for December — which just happens to be “Read a New Book Month” — just felt right. Like most people, before I cracked open the Dickens text, I was already familiar with the story of “A Christmas Carol.” Since its publication is 1843, it has been adapted dozens, if not hundreds, of times for children’s books, the stage, and the big screen. To sum it up in a few words, the story follows a miserable, Christmas-hating miser named Scrooge, who treats his employees and their families unfairly over the holidays. Because of his miserly ways, he is visited by three ghosts: Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. The ghosts take him on a journey through his life, and he returns humbled and full of generous Christmas spirit. In law, sometimes to really understand a case, you need to go back to the source material, the original ruling that set precedent, and start your research there. By reading the original version of “A Christmas Carol,” I’m trying to do the same thing. I felt like I owed it to myself to go back and read the words of Dickens. According to Time magazine, Dickens was inspired by a dismal child labor report that revealed the awful conditions British workers suffered under, particularly the youngest and most vulnerable among them, who were considered little more than cogs in the giant factories of the time. Fueled by outrage, Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in 1843 to convince employers they needed to value their employees. Right from the beginning, the book, which Dickens churned out in just two months, was a smash hit. Time magazine reports, “Victorians called it ‘a new gospel,’ and reading or watching it became a sacred ritual for many, without which the Christmas season cannot materialize.”

Many people feel the same way about “A Christmas Carol” today and have made a tradition out of watching the 1984 film starring George C. Scott or the animated Disney version. Personally, I’ve always liked the phases of past, present, and future represented in the story. They help me look back at past Christmases when I was growing up, treasure the memories I’m making today, and look forward to what the future holds. I’m savoring every page of the book, partly because I think setting aside time to slow down and read is a great way to get back to the traditions of Christmas and avoid the commercialism that has taken over the holiday, and partly because I rarely have time to dive into a story these days. I love early Roman and American history texts, but, with two little kids at home, it’s more realistic to find me settling in with them and a copy of “Stuart Little” or the latest Berenstain Bears book. If you call into the office this month looking for help with a legal issue, I’d love to hear what’s on your book list. From all of us here at Kevin Patrick Law, happy holidays and happy reading!

This publication is for informational purposes only, and no legal advice is intended.

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