Scenes of Privation out of Charles Dickens Haunt Us Today

christmas_carol

WASHINGTON — Donald Lambro writes:   In Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” there is a heart-wrenching scene of the struggling Cratchit family’s meager meal that included a small goose and a tiny plum pudding.

The family is barely scraping by on the minuscule wages paid by the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. Dickens describes “one small atom of a bone upon the dish” that remained on the table, followed by a “speckled cannon-ball” of blazing pudding with a sprig of holly stuck on top that ended the skimpy Christmas Eve dinner.

“But nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so,” Dickens observes.

Such was the daily life of want and hunger among the poor population in 18th-century London. With so many mouths to feed, Mrs. Cratchit managed to stretch what little they had to eat with a few potatoes and some applesauce.

Here in the world’s wealthiest country, some may think that such bleak circumstances are long since past or very rare. But they’re not. Millions of our fellow citizens are still struggling to feed themselves and their families.

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