The famous novella A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens tells of an old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by various spirits on Christmas Eve. A brief summary of the previous staves is useful in understanding stave 5, which is the concluding chapter in the book. Stave 1 introduces Scrooge and his employee Bob Cratchit, who pleads for the day off to spend with his family. Scrooge's selfishness and miserliness are demonstrated by his interactions with Cratchit and others. The chain-wrapped ghost of Scrooge's dead partner Marley visits Scrooge and tells him he will be visited by three spirits, and if he listens to them he has a chance of escaping Marley's fate. In stave 2, the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to scenes of his childhood and youth. In stave 3, the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge around to people he knows who are celebrating Christmas. This includes the house of Bob Cratchit, where Scrooge first sees Bob's seriously ill son Tiny Tim. In Stave 4, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Cratchit and his family mourning the death of Tiny Tim. He also shows Scrooge his own tombstone. At the end of Stave 4, Scrooge has a profound change of heart. He tells the ghost that he will honor Christmas and remember the lessons he has learned.
At the beginning of stave 5, Scrooge wakes up joyfully in his own bed and realizes that he has been given time in which to make amends for his past selfish behavior. He resolves to live "in the Past, the Present, and the Future," and he praises Christmas for making this possible. His bed curtains, which had been stolen in the vision in stave 4, are back in place. He gets dressed and at the same time weeps, laughs, and praises Christmas. He realizes that the ghost of Marley and the other spirits really visited him.
Scrooge hears church bells and runs to open the window. It is a cold but clear sunny day. He asks a passing boy what day it is, and when the boy says that it is Christmas Day, he realizes that he hasn't missed it and all the visions happened in one night. Scrooge sends the boy to buy a huge prize turkey hanging in a nearby shop. When the boy returns with the shopkeeper and the turkey, Scrooge pays a generous tip to the boy, and he also pays for the turkey and for a cab to deliver the turkey to Bob Cratchit's house.
Scrooge then shaves and dresses in his best clothes. As he walks the street, he smiles at people passing and is pleased when they greet him in return. He meets two men who had come to his office earlier seeking a donation, and Scrooge promises to give them a large sum of money. He goes to church and then goes to visit his nephew Fred and Fred's wife. He dines with them and with other relatives.
The next morning, Scrooge comes to the office early. Cratchit is a few minutes late and thinks that he will get a scolding, but instead, Scrooge raises his salary and insists on helping Bob's family. He becomes like a second father to Tiny Tim, who does not die. He becomes renowned as a good man and someone who knows how to keep Christmas well.