“I too find that far too great a percent of my taxes go toward supporting the indolent. Free housing! Free food! No wonder they don’t go out and work. With the comforts, they are inclined to just live upon our generosity rather than their own industry.”
This sounds like a quote from the immortal mouth of Ebenezer Scrooge. They could very easily be his words. But they are the words of his mentor and partner Jacob T. Marley, uttered when he first meets Scrooge, before Scrooge has lost most of his humanity.
“Jacob T. Marley,” a recently published book by R. William Bennett, is meant to be read as a companion to Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Written in a voice similar to the Dickens classic, “Jacob T. Marley” explores the life of Marley and how he has influenced Scrooge to become such an unsavory person.
Beginning before Scrooge and Marley become partners, this short novel shows us the character of Jacob Marley and how he is the negative influence that causes Scrooge to dislike everyone around him. On his deathbed, Marley is repentant. The book speculates about whether or not Marley is given the same opportunity that Scrooge was given to change his life.
At his death, Marley looks for sympathy from Scrooge and finds none. “‘What a wretched man,’ Marley thought. ‘Whatever in the world made him? . . . I did’ were his own words that came to him. ‘I did. I made Ebenezer Scrooge.’”
When Marley recognizes his life’s mistake, he wants to change what he has done. But he cannot alter the past. The only thing he can do is to try to change the future. It is when his mortal life is over that his atonement begins. It is time for Marley to help the only person he could have called “friend” to turn his life around—the way Marley never had a chance to do.
Every year, my husband reads a story to the family during the Christmas season. I think this one will definitely be on the list for this year! It is only 200 pages, so that makes it the perfect length for the 24 days of December leading up to Christmas.
This tale of remorse, repentance, and redemption is a sure bet to become a Christmas classic.
Just some ideas for other Christmas books we have read in the past as a family:
—“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” by Barbara Robinson. We read this about three years ago when the oldest was 9 and the youngest was 1. All three of the kids were riveted every night. I think they were most fascinated by the silly toilet humor.
—“A Little House Christmas: Holiday Stories From the Little House Books,” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This was a great book of stories from the Little House on the Prairie series. We are big fans of the Little House books in our family, so this was the perfect book for our family tradition.
If you haven’t started yet, today is December 1st—the perfect time to start your family reading tradition. Find a book of stories about Christmas, or a chapter book about the holiday season. Get your family involved in a book this year!