Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Lesson of Charity

by Connie Canaday Howard

I’ve told this story before, but feel its presence very personally, in regards to the themes of A Christmas Carol.

My mother taught in my elementary school, though, at the time of the story I’m about to relate, she was not my teacher. I was quite small, first or second grade, and my mother was teaching fifth and sixth Science, Math and History.

Several times a week, we would have to go in very early, well before the first bus arrived at the building, and I was told to read or finish my homework quietly at the back of my mother’s room. My mother would leave, and be gone for several minutes, and then return and work quietly at her desk until the time that I could go to my own classroom, when she’d give me a hug and kiss and wish me a good day. I found these early mornings quite unnecessary, and one day complained loudly about them. That’s when my mother told me the story of another student, an older boy who she did not identify.

This young man came from a large family of very little means, and many of the teachers suspected that he might not be treated well. So, together they’d decided to purchase him a few changes of clothes, some soap and a towel. As this young man came on an early bus and was the first student to arrive at school, every morning one teacher would escort him to the boys’ gym, where he could shower in private and change into clean clothes, get a sack lunch packed by the teacher, and be in the classroom before another student arrived. At the end of the day, he changed back into his clothes from home, for his bus ride back. This was their small way of trying to make his life’s journey a little smoother; he came to school very dirty, and they suspected the sack lunch might, at some times, be his only daily meal. Though I never knew who this student was, I also never felt the need to complain about our early mornings again.

Working on A Christmas Carol, in this lovely adaptation, this story again came back to me. I’ve always loved Dickens, and I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we all tried to be “as good a friend…” as Scrooge exemplifies, after his enlightenment. A truly optimistic, some would say na├»ve hope… but it’s mine, nonetheless.


Join us for A Christmas Carol:
Friday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 27, 2 and 7 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 28, 2 and 7 p.m.

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