illustration of Ebenezer Scrooge in silhouette walking toward a Christmas tree and followed by the three ghosts

A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens

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What does Scrooge do on Christmas day in A Christmas Carol?

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In stave 5, "The End Of It," of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, a redeemed and revitalized Ebenezer Scrooge enjoys a Christmas Day like no other that he's experienced in his entire life. Scrooge buys a prize turkey and has it delivered to the Cratchits, goes to church, walks the streets of London greeting passers-by, contributes a significant amount of money to the poor, and ends the day singing and playing games at his nephew Fred's dinner party.

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Ebenezer Scrooge has a busy Christmas Day in stave 5, "The End Of It," in Charles Dickens's classic novella A Christmas Carol.

The day begins with Scrooge clinging desperately to his bedpost, thinking that he is still clutching at the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in the overgrown, neglected churchyard where he just had the shock of seeing his own grave. Scrooge is overjoyed at finding himself back in his own bedroom, clutching at his bedcurtains and bedclothes—the same bedcurtains and bedclothes the charwoman sold to Old Joe in the rag and bottle shop the day before.

"They are not torn down," cried Scrooge, folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms. "They are here—I am here..." Scrooge looks around his rooms, and he sees everything exactly as he left it.

Scrooge tries to get dressed, but he's too excited. His clothes are inside out and upside down, and he struggles mightily to get his stockings on his feet. "I don’t know what to do!" cries Scrooge. "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy."

Scrooge runs to the window and throws it open. The fog that poured in at every chink and keyhole the day before is gone—the same fog that accompanied him home from his counting-house that night to his melancholy rooms, where he encountered the ghost of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. In place of fog and mist is a clear, brisk, bright day with glorious sunlight, a heavenly sky, and sweet, fresh air. He can hear the church bells all around him ringing out a glorious day.

Scrooge calls down to the street below his window to a young boy dressed in his best Sunday clothes, even though Christmas Day in 1843 was on a Monday.

"What's to-day, my fine fellow?" said Scrooge.

"To-day!" replied the boy. "Why, Christmas Day."(Stave 5)

Scrooge hasn't missed it. "The Spirits have done it all in one night."

Scrooge asks the young boy if the prize turnkey is still hanging in the poultry shop, and when the boy says it is, Scrooge buys it and has it delivered to the Cratchits' home. "He sha'n't know who sends it," says Scrooge. "It's twice the size of Tiny Tim!"

Scrooge shaves as best he can, considering he's dancing while he tries not to cut himself. Soon Scrooge is dressed "all in his best," and he goes out into the street, into the midst of all the people pouring out of their houses and coming and going on this Christmas Day.

He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head.... He had never dreamed that any walk—that anything—could give him so much happiness. (Stave 5)

In the street, Scrooge meets one of the portly gentlemen who just the day before came to the counting-house to solicit money for the poor and destitute and who Scrooge sent away without a penny. Now Scrooge whispers in the man's ear an amount of money he's willing to contribute that takes the man's breath away. "My dear Mr. Scrooge," says the portly gentlemen, taken aback at Scrooge's generosity. "Are you serious?" Scrooge responds firmly, "Not a farthing less."

Scrooge walks the streets all morning, and in the afternoon, he gathers his courage and goes to his nephew Fred's home to take Fred up on the dinner invitation that Scrooge had refused in no uncertain terms the day before in Scrooge's counting-house.

He passed the door a dozen times, before he had the courage to go up and knock. But he made a dash, and did it. (Stave 5)

Scrooge is let into Fred's home and led upstairs where he pokes his head into a room where, to Scrooge's surprise, he's kindly and heartily greeted by Fred, Fred's wife, Fred's wife's sister, Fred's friend Topper, and everyone else at Fred's dinner party.

Scrooge joins in all the festivities he had observed the night before with the Ghost of Christmas Present. Scrooge sings glees and catches with the others and listens to Fred's wife play tunes on the harp, including a tune that Scrooge remembers from his childhood, from the time his sister, Fan, came to rescue him from boarding school.

When the music is done, everyone, including Scrooge, plays games like "Forfeits," "How, When, and Where," "Blind-man’s Buff," and "Yes and No" far into the night.

Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful happiness! (Stave 5)

Late that night, Scrooge returns home, tired but happy, with the sounds of "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year" ringing in his ears.

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When Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning, he is feeling rejuvenated and his character is completely reformed. We see evidence of this through his activities on the day, beginning with his purchase of a prize-winning turkey which he sends directly to the home of his employee, Bob Cratchit.

Next, Scrooge meets on the street with one of the men who visited his office in Stave One to request a charitable donation for the poor. Unlike the first time, Scrooge offers the man an undisclosed amount towards his fund. It is clearly a lot of money as the man is extremely pleased with the offer:

"Lord bless me!" cried the gentleman, as if his breath were gone. "My dear Scrooge, are you serious?"

After this, Scrooge attends Church and then wanders the street, patting children on the head, talking to beggars and generally taking pleasure in life. He then walks to the house of his nephew, Fred, and has dinner with the family. Fred is pleasantly surprised by his uncle's unexpected appearance after he so vehemently refused his offer in Stave One. Again, this is strong evidence of the strength of Scrooge's transformation.

From Fred's, Scrooge pays a visit to his employee, Bob. Scrooge pretends to be angry with him and acts as though he might fire Bob. But, in fact, Scrooge offers Bob a pay rise, much to the Cratchit family's delight. 

Finally, the reader learns that Scrooge keeps the promises he has made to the charity collector and to Bob Cratchit and his family:

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more.

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