Scrooge’s legacy, up to this point, doesn’t amount to much. What does he pass on, besides gloom? The Ghost of Christmas Present shows him that despite his noxious views on Christmas and generosity, he really does not affect the happiness of those he comes in contact with. The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come shows us that no one really cares that he is dead other than those who will profit by his death. No legacy. In the world of A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is a name that will be forgotten upon his death.
Unfortunately, the characteristics that he holds to will live on long after he is gone. Greed, injustice, and lack of compassion didn’t begin with Scrooge, nor will they die with him. It’s hard to say how or to whom he passed those traits on, but those would be his legacy if he had one at all.
Until now, that is.
“Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs!”
We are given another picture of a change. Now what does Scrooge have to pass on: laughter—and the joy that accompanies it. Dickens tells us that Scrooge’s laugh is illustrious, i.e., well known or respected. He tells us that this laugh is “the father of a long, long line of … laughs.” While Dickens could just be saying that this is the first of many to come, by using the word father, there is an implication that Scrooge’s laugh will leave a legacy of laughter to others, that it will be repeated, picked up, modeled, and carried on beyond the walls of Scooge’s counting house.
Laughter is a good thing to pass on. Joy should define us and be infectious. The most likable characters in this story are the ones whose joy radiates and fills the room they are in. It is a worthy attribute because it is one that accompanies God, which is why David writes, “In Your presence is fullness of joy.”
We should pass joy along to those we know, but we can only do so when we know the true joy of being in a relationship with God, abiding in his presence daily.