Dickens presents family as a source of social cohesion in A Christmas Carol. Families, with their joys and responsibilities, provide a sharp contrast to Scrooge's lonely existence. Early on, for instance, Scrooge's nephew, who is poor, comes to visit. Unlike Scrooge, he "was all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked..." He invites Scrooge to Christmas dinner, declaring that although he is poor, Christmas does him good, for it brings people together.
Scrooge rejects his nephew, who is such a cheerful representative of family life. He also makes life difficult for his clerk Bob Cratchit, but Cratchit's happy family, despite their poverty, makes a striking counterpoint to Scrooge's shriveled existence:
At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted, and considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at Bob Cratchit’s elbow stood the family display of glass. Two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle.
These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob proposed:
“A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!”
Which all the family re-echoed.
The Ghost of Christmas Past shows Scrooge a Christmas party from days gone by, ending with the following:
When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas. When everybody had retired but the two ’prentices, they did the same to them; and thus the cheerful voices died away, and the lads were left to their beds; which were under a counter in the back-shop.
This scene of family joy and harmony begins to do its work on Scrooge's hard heart:
During the whole of this time, Scrooge had acted like a man out of his wits. His heart and soul were in the scene, and with his former self. He corroborated everything, remembered everything, enjoyed everything, and underwent the strangest agitation.
Families are sources of strength in this tale, and good families, Dickens shows, keep hearts and minds open and alive. They even work their magic on Scrooge, reminding him that life is made of more than money.