Dickens tale relevant in today’s gloomy economy

From its first publication in 1843, “A Christmas Carol” has charmed and inspired millions. Less well-known is the fact that this little book of celebration grew out of a dark period in the author’s career and, in some ways, changed the course of his life forever.

In a very real sense, Dickens popularized many aspects of the Christmas we celebrate today, including great family gatherings, seasonal drinks and dishes and gift giving. Even our language has been enriched by the tale. Who has not known a Scrooge, or uttered “Bah! Humbug!” when feeling irritated or disbelieving. And the phrase “Merry Christmas!” gained wider usage after the story appeared.

“A Christmas Carol” may become an even more relevant tale as people cope with what is expected to be an economically bleak holiday season. Fast-forward to 2010, and America is in an acute economic crisis. There are a number of similar themes, including the increasing gap between the rich and poor. People in the working class are losing their homes or struggling to heat their homes, and we’re going into the holiday season with anticipated layoffs and high unemployment. For many, it looks like a pretty dreary Christmas.

The message in “A Christmas Carol” also says it’s not just good enough to donate money, but individuals need to get involved, as Scrooge learns in the end. This is a message we can all keep in mind this year. You never lose by giving.

Ted Rudow III, Menlo Park

Assange is man of the year

Time magazine took the easy way out by naming popular Facebook corporate mogul Mark Zuckerberg as its Person of the Year.

The more courageous, bold, controversial and unpopular thing to have done was to have named WikiLeaks founder and lightning rod Julian Assange for its top honor.

No one did more to stir up and enlighten the world as he did.

Kenneth L. Zimmerman, Huntington Beach

Go with congestion pricing

My family of four lives at a main entry point being considered for congestion pricing, and we have to deal with out-of-towners at all hours.

We happen to take a lot of public transportation and feel the roads are degrading mostly by people who commute in and out of our city, not by San Francisco residents. We have high hopes that this program would work well particularly for families who live here.

Could this program encourage more families to actually move into San Francisco? Think about the ramifications this could have on improving other things like our school district, air quality, and trafficways, not just commute time.

Angelina Chang, San Francisco

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