When the novella begins, Scrooge is known as
... a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone... a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.
But, he was not always such a person; in fact, he possessed the normal joys of youth and led a life replete with music, laughter, love, emotions, colors, feasts, family, and friends. However, all these emotions and unions with loved ones are but "shadows" in Scrooge's present life.
In Stave Two when the Ghost of Christmas Past visits old Ebenezer Scrooge, he takes the miser back to the past, a distant time in which Scrooge was normal. In fact, he feels some elation as he returns to this past, although at first he views the stark boarding school where he was made to remain even during the holidays. One day, however, his loving sister appears, telling him she has come to take him home, and he is happy.
After this vision, Scrooge is taken to a warehouse where he and another young man were once apprenticed to a man called "old Fezziwig." When the Christmas holidays come, Fezziwig closes his business, and brings in musicians and bakers, cooks, and milkmen who provide a feast for his guests. The Fezziwig family enters and the festivities begins with Fezziwig himself spritely dancing. When everyone departs, Fezziwig and his wife wish all their guests "Merry Christmas." About his Scrooge remarks,
He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count'em up.
At this point in his life, Scrooge finds joy in love and friendship.
The next vision that the Ghost shows Scrooge is himself as in the prime of his life. As this man, he is visited by a "fair young girl" whose eyes are wet with tears as she talks to Ebenezer, telling him that he has replaced her with "another idol," "a golden one." Further, she informs Ebenezer that he tries to insulate himself against the world with money, but in so doing, he has lost his "nobler aspirations."
The last image is one of Ebenezer now alone with his partner dying. Belle, the young woman who has left him in the earlier scene, sits in her home awaiting the return of her husband; as they wait, there is laughter and joy throughout the house--a delightful home that Scrooge could have had for his own if he had not wedded himself to the pursuit of wealth.