“God bless us – every one!” – Tiny Tim, from “A Christmas Carol”
The holiday season is always filled with a whirlwind of activities, especially for young families. Many parents attempt to simplify their calendars and commitments to keep their energy and focus where it needs to be. I’ve noticed, however, that there is an enduring tradition in most U.S. cities at this time of year: packed performances of the great Charles Dicken’s classic, “A Christmas Carol.”
It is one of the most celebrated pieces of literature – one that has never gone out of print. It’s been adapted dozens of times for stage and screen and translated into multiple languages. What is it about this novella, written more than 170 years ago, that transcends generations and cultures?
I did a little research and discovered that Dickens originally planned to pen a political pamphlet – not a heart-warming piece of fiction. He was distressed after reading a parliamentary report exposing the effects of the Industrial Revolution on underprivileged children. Dickens had grown up in poverty, but managed to attend school and become an enthusiastic reader. His world imploded when he turned 12 and was forced to pawn his beloved books and accept work in a factory while his father went to debtors’ prison.
The scars of this early experience made Dickens a lifelong champion of educational reform. So, after attempting to rally community support for social change during a speech in 1843, it occurred to him that he could reach a much wider audience if he wrote an ethical tale and sold it as a holiday story. Within two months, his hunch proved correct when the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchet and Tiny Tim flew off the shelves.
“A Christmas Carol” resonates because it celebrates the transformative nature of human kindness and compassion. It demonstrates the joy that comes from “giving without expecting,” something we live by and teach our children at Primrose Schools® through our Balanced Learning® approach, which emphasizes character development. This principle also resonates because despite American affluence, we know that there are still many families in need.
According to the Census Bureau, more than 14 million U.S. children – 20 percent of our nation’s children – live in poverty. Research tells us that poverty is one of the greatest threats to children’s well-being. It affects their health, their development and their ability to learn.
If Charles Dickens was with us today, he might summon Jacob Marley again to warn us about America’s future. It doesn’t bode well for tomorrow’s society if one-fifth of its citizens are falling behind today.
That’s why Primrose Schools partners with Save the Children®, the world’s top independent charity for children in need. This holiday season, we’re launching a Gift it Forward campaign a to provide families with the opportunity to give directly to help children who need it most. During December, the Primrose Children’s Foundation will match every donation to the Save the Children U.S. Programs fund, dollar for dollar up to $25,000.
The Gift it Forward campaign offers tiered donation levels to help make your gift more tangible. For example, $25 buys an emergency backpack to keep a child safe and comforted in a disaster; $50 purchases sports equipment for an after-school program that serves children in poverty; and $100 stocks a Save the Children partner library with books. If you add any of these donation amounts to your Christmas list, Primrose will double the donation, allowing you to give back and gift forward.
Reading “A Christmas Carol” is one of the best holiday activities for kids because it provides families with a wonderful opportunity to reflect on your blessings and nurture empathy and integrity in children. And, participating as a family in the Primrose Gift it Forward campaign is a meaningful way to reinforce Tiny Tim’s message to “bless us every one.” I hope you’ll join Save the Children and Primrose as we change not just the holidays, but also help to empower a child’s potential to live a happy and successful life.