A mean-spirited man named Ebenezer Scrooge sits in his bank on a cold Christmas Eve. His clerk, Bob Cratchit, shivers in the room because Scrooge refuses to spend money on heating coals for a fire. Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, pays his uncle a visit and invites him to his annual Christmas party. Two gentlemen also drop by and ask Scrooge for money for their charity. Scrooge reacts to the holiday visitors with anger saying an angry “Bah! Humbug!” in response to his nephew’s “Merry Christmas!”
Later that evening, after returning to his dark, cold apartment, Scrooge receives a scary visitation from the ghost of his dead partner, Jacob Marley. Marley, tells his sad story. As punishment for his greedy and self-serving life his spirit wanders the Earth weighted down with heavy chains. Marley hopes to save Scrooge from sharing the same fate. Marley informs Scrooge that three spirits will visit him. After the ghost disappears, Scrooge falls into a deep sleep.
He wakes moments before the arrival of the Ghost of Christmas Past, a strange childlike ghost. The spirit takes Scrooge on a journey into the past to previous Christmases from Scrooges earlier years. Invisible to those he watches, Scrooge revisits his childhood school days, his job with a happy merchant named Fezziwig, and his engagement to Belle, a woman who leaves Scrooge because his greed for money is greater than his ability to love another. Scrooge, deeply moved, cries tears of regret before the ghost returns him to his bed.
The Ghost of Christmas Present, a giant in a green fur robe, takes Scrooge through London to show how Christmas as it will happen that year. Scrooge watches the large Cratchit family prepare a small feast in its poor home. He discovers Bob Cratchit’s crippled son, Tiny Tim, a courageous boy whose kindness and humility warms Scrooge’s heart. The ghost then takes Scrooge to his nephew’s to see the Christmas party. Scrooge finds the happy gathering delightful. The ghost vanishes instantly as Scrooge notices a dark, hooded figure coming toward him.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come leads Scrooge through a series of mysterious scenes relating to an unnamed man’s recent death. Scrooge sees businessmen discussing the dead man’s riches, some vagabonds trading his personal effects for cash. Scrooge, anxious to learn the lesson of his latest visitor, begs to know the name of the dead man. Scrooge finds himself in a churchyard, the spirit pointing to a grave. Scrooge looks at the headstone and is shocked to read his own name. He desperately asks the spirit to change his fate, promising to honor Christmas with all his heart. He suddenly finds himself safely in his bed.
Overwhelmed with joy by the chance to redeem himself and grateful that he has been returned to Christmas Day, Scrooge rushes out onto the street hoping to share his newfound Christmas spirit. He sends a giant Christmas turkey to the Cratchit house and attends Fred’s party, to the surprise of the other guests. As the years go by, he holds true to his promise and honors Christmas with all his heart: he treats Tiny Tim as if he were his own child, provides wonderful gifts for the poor, and treats his fellow human beings with kindness, generosity, and warmth.