In Stave II of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, titled “The First of the Three Spirits,” the Ghost of Christmas Past, the spirit has led Scrooge to his childhood home. Scrooge reacts to the sights, sounds and smells – especially the smells (“a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares long, long, forgotten!) – with emotions that have long been sublimated to the elderly miser’s bitterness and anger. The images of his childhood home have reawakened in him these long-forgotten sensations. Noticing Scrooge’s emotional reaction to this visit to his childhood home, the spirit addresses him:
“’Your lip is trembling,’ said the Ghost. ‘And what is that upon your cheek?’
“Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching in his voice, that it was a pimple; and begged the Ghost to lead him where he would.”
The pimple is not a pimple, or any other kind of growth. It is a tear – a long-suppressed tear. It represents the beginning of Scrooge’s transformation from cold, heartless miser to benevolent, caring person.