A Christmas Carol

by: Charles Dickens

Fred

I want nothing from you; I ask nothing of you; why cannot we be friends? . . . I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute. We have never had any quarrel, to which I have been a party. But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas, and I’ll keep my Christmas humour to the last. So, a Merry Christmas, uncle!

Scrooge’s nephew Fred responds to Scrooge’s rebuff after he wishes Scrooge a merry Christmas and invites him to Christmas dinner. Scrooge not only refuses the invitation but acts offended at the idea of being invited—he disapproves both of Fred’s marriage and of celebrating Christmas. But Fred doesn’t take offense in return. Feeling offended would spoil the spirit of Christmas. Fred’s visit embodies the Christmas spirit: generosity, togetherness, and forgiveness.

“Always a delicate creature, whom a breath might have withered,” said the Ghost. “But she had a large heart! . . . She died a woman… and had, as I think, children… Your nephew!”

While visiting with the Ghost of Christmas Past, readers see Scrooge with his younger sister, Fanny, of whom he was very fond. Here, the Ghost reveals that although she is long dead, her son Fred lives on. Scrooge remembers how much he loved Fanny. Her kindness to him clearly lives on in Fred’s continued attempts to include Scrooge in his life. Scrooge’s seeming dislike of Fred may stem from how much Fred reminds him of his loss.

“He has given us plenty of merriment, I am sure,” said Fred, “and it would be ungrateful not to drink his health. Here is a glass of mulled wine ready to our hand at the moment, and I say, ‘Uncle Scrooge’!... A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old man, whatever he is!... He wouldn’t take it from me, but may he have it, nevertheless. Uncle Scrooge!”

Having had a game at the absent Uncle Scrooge’s expense, Fred insists that his dinner guests raise a toast to Scrooge’s health and blessings of the season. Even though he never receives a kind word from Scrooge, Fred wishes him well. Fred’s generosity in wishing someone the best with no expectation of any such feelings in return represents the Christmas spirit. Fred himself attributes his behavior to the Christmas spirit, which he wishes to honor.