Christmas Future: an unmourned death and a lesson learned

The Spirit of Christmas Future is showing Scrooge the reactions of those who hear of a certain man’s death–Scrooge’s death, though he doesn’t realize it.

No one is sorry, apparently. The gentlemen on the street corners find the news both amusing and boring. Those in the pawn shop gleefully ridicule his linens and underclothes, mocking the dead man’s stinginess. The man’s debtors are relieved to hear of the death; surely his successor will not be as unrelenting a creditor, surely there will be mercy for their debt now.

When the Spirit takes Scrooge into the bedchamber of the dead, Scrooge cannot bear to look at the abandoned, unmourned body of the unknown man. He cannot look at the man’s face to find out his identity, but he thinks,

“if this man could be raised up now, what would be his foremost thoughts? Avarice, hard dealing, griping cares? They have brought him to a rich end, truly!

“He lay, in the dark empty house, with not a man, a woman, or a child, to say he was kind to me in this or that, and for the memory of one kind word I will be kind to him. A cat was tearing at the door, and there was a sound of gnawing rats beneath the hearth-stone. What they wanted in the room of death, and why they were so restless and disturbed, Scrooge did not dare to think.”

–Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, chapter 4

His greed, his hoarding of money, his unmerciful, selfish treatment of others: he’ll die unmourned. It’s a sad ending of a life wasted on all the wrong pursuits.

That’s not how anyone wants to die. But many of us live our lives as if we care more for money (or other treasures) than others, and essentially waste our lives like Scrooge did.

But there’s always hope for change. There’s hope yet that Scrooge will learn his lesson and be a changed man.

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