By Heather Sevrens
A relatively faithful representation of Dickens’ classic (except that this Scrooge is a woman), with an appearance by Joseph, Mary, a refugee mom and child, a local pastor. Touches of humour.
Spirit of Christmas Past
Spirit of Christmas Present
Spirit of Christmas Future
Non acting roles: Kids to play angels, shepherds, and wise men
(Open to Scrooge and Bob Marley working over their desks. A light burns low in one corner. Players can be positioned so that they can hide their scripts on their desks.)
Narrator: Once upon a time, there was a miserly old woman named Ebeneza Scrooge. She was exceeding rich, but worked all of the time. She kept all of her earnings for herself, having only a young nephew for family, and never spent a cent if she could help it. For years Ms. Scrooge lived like this, working feverishly and making more money to horde away. She plodded on alone, save for a loyal clerk, Bob Cratchett, ignoring everyone around except for those she absolutely needed to do business with. And it is here in her firm on Christmas Eve where we find her, toiling away still in her frigid and dismal office.
Bob: Ms. Scrooge? (He lifts his hands to his mouth and blows on them to keep warm.) I’m not sure how to ask you this ma’am, though being the holidays and all, you probably already have plans of your own… (He looks over at Scrooge who has her head down in her work and is silently ignoring Bob.) Anyway, I was wondering if you would like to join me and my family for church tomorrow morning for the Christmas service.
Scrooge: (She makes a loud “harrumphing” sound and starts to write faster.)
Bob: That is, if you’d like to come.
Scrooge: (Still looking down at her work.) I would not like it. (Pauses) And I would appreciate it if you kept your work and your personal life separate, Mr. Cratchett.
Bob: Oh. Alright. (Short pause) Well, if you change your mind, you’re always welcome to come. All they ask for is an open heart. Or at least the willingness to grow one.
Scrooge: (She harrumphs again) The only thing an open heart ever got anyone was a one way ticket to the poorhouse.
Bob: (He is quiet, unsure of whether to contradict Scrooge, lest he lose his job.) Ma’am, I was also wondering…
Scrooge: You never wonder, Cratchett, you’re always asking. Ask and be done with it, but don’t claim to be “wondering” when you are really groveling for something you want.
Bob: Well, it is Christmas Eve, and my family and I are going to church. My son Tim is going to be in the nativity pageant…
Scrooge: And I suppose you’d like to see him? And I’m sure that it will be the performance of a lifetime.
Bob: (Bob hangs his head and looks away upset.)
Scrooge: Well, if you must. But I am firing you this evening and you are to return 5:00AM the day following Christmas to ask for your job back. I will not be paying holiday pay for a day you aren’t even working. In times like these, workers are a dime a dozen, and if you do not like these conditions, you can find yourself employment elsewhere.
Bob: No ma’am. That will be fine. I spent nine months out of a job last year and you gave me work when no one else would even return my phone calls. You kept my family from being homeless. By the way, your nephew left you a message to join him for Christmas dinner tomorrow.
Scrooge: If you are going to leave, then do it already Mr. Cratchett.
Bob: (Getting his coat and wrapping his scarf around his neck.) Thank you anyway Ms. Scrooge. And if you change your mind about Christmas…
Scrooge: I assure you, I will not.
Bob: Merry Christmas ma’am! (He exits)
Scrooge: Bah humbug. (She settles back into working, when carolers are heard singing the last bit of “We Three Kings” off to the side - start from “Oh, star of wonder”.) Carolers? The leeching scum of the human race.
(Enter the two carolers.)
Caroler One: A tune for you ma’am?
Caroler Two: We make a merry rendition of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”.
Scrooge: I said no.
(Carolers and Congregation sing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”)
Caroler One: That wasn’t so bad now, was it?
Caroler Two: We’re collecting for a church that runs an AIDS orphanage in Africa. Will you be so generous as to donate a few dollars, good madam?
Scrooge: Why should I pay to take care of a bunch of starving kids halfway around the world when their parents are the ones to blame for abandoning them.
Caroler One: Excuse me?
Scrooge: If they hadn’t gone out and gotten the disease in the first place, then we wouldn’t have to be paying to take care of the brats they left behind.
Caroler Two: Ma’am, AIDS is a devastating disease that many people contract through no fault of their own.
Scrooge: Then the children should be out on their own, earning their own way. If the world really is that hard over there, there’s no point in coddling them.
Caroler One: God tells us to protect the widow and the orphan, so that is what we will do, no matter how hard the world is. Merry Christmas to you, ma’am. (They exit)
Scrooge: Merry Christmas. God. What ridiculousness. Bah humbug. (She yawns and stretches her arms.) No sense in going home tonight. Might as well sleep here and get an early start on tomorrow. (She lays her head down on her desk and sleeps.)
(From the back of the room, chains rattle and there is a low moaning. The clock chimes twelve as the ghost of Jacob Marley comes down the aisle. Scrooge doesn’t stir, so Marley bangs on his desk to wake her up.)
Jabob Marley: Scrooge!
Scrooge: What? What is going on? (She rubs her eyes and blinks incredulously at the ghost.) Ja-Ja-Jacob Marley? Is that you? But you’ve been dead twenty years now!
Jacob Marley: Dead indeed! And I’ve been given a chance to come back and warn you. The Lord is merciful, and he is giving you the chance to repent your wicked ways and open your hardened heart.
Scrooge: The Lord? But what does the Lord want with me?
Jacob Marley: The Lord has sent me because I turned away from Him and His word. I spent my life stepping on the weak and the vulnerable just to get what I wanted. You have done the same! Turn your heart over to God tonight, or you are lost forever.
Scrooge: But what can I do? How am I supposed to do this?
Jacob Marley: Fear not. Three spirits will visit you tonight on the hour. Listen to them, and follow everything they say. (He begins to exit down the aisle.) But remember to open your heart, friend, and let the Lord’s love enter in, or it will be too late! (Exeunt)
Scrooge: (She quickly pats all over her body to make sure she is alive and then looks up.) Marley? Jacob? (Silence) My mind must surely be playing tricks on me. It must be because I have not eaten tonight. An empty stomach can lead one to see all sorts of hallucinations. A piece of bread and some sleep is all I need. (She takes a bite of a piece of bread on her desk and lays her head down again.)
(Congregation sings “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” while Scrooge sleeps.)
(The clock tolls one. Scrooge is jolted awake. She looks around, but no one is there. Some sparkly music or chimes ring, and the Ghost of Christmas Past appears floating down the aisle. She is carrying a baby.)
Scrooge: So I’m not dreaming. Are you one of the spirits my friend Marley told me about?
Ghost of Past: I am. I am the Spirit of Christmas Past. Do you mind if I sit down for a moment? (She passes the baby to Scrooge)
Scrooge: Wait, I can’t hold this! (She holds out baby away from her body.) I might break it or something.
Ghost of Past: (Grabs a chair and pulls it over and sits.) It’s a “he”, not an it, and deal with it. You think you’re freaked out because you’re holding a baby? How do you think Mary felt?
Scrooge: Mary? Like the Virgin Mary?
Ghost of Past: That’s the one.
Scrooge: So this is… you mean, I’m holding…
Ghost of Past: What? Oh you mean Jesus? No. Didn’t you read the Bible? He grew up and then died to take away the sins of mankind. It was a pretty big deal. No, this is my sister’s kid. I’m baby-sitting so that she can get some of her Christmas shopping done in peace.
Scrooge: Oh. Then I suppose you had better get on with what you’re going to teach me.
Ghost of Past: In due time, Scroogy. You ever heard of something called a flashback?
Ghost of Past: Trust me, it will be fun.
(They exit. The desks and the light are removed.)
Narrator: So the Spirit of Christmas Past took Scrooge back to a cold night long ago, when a new star hung high in the sky, shining out to shepherds and kings alike. (Enter Mary and Joseph and child. They sit down on two chairs and look at the child. A light shines from behind them. Scrooge and the Ghost stand off to the side.)
Joseph: Truly this is a holy night. Mary, I must tell you that when you first told me you were to conceive a child by the Lord, I doubted His hand in all of this. It has been dark for so long here, and there has been so much hate in this place, that even when the angel came to me, I was not sure if I could trust my own eyes. But here on this night, there can be no uncertainty that God is in our presence.
Mary: Joseph, I have been afraid, too. Though I have tried to follow the Lord and serve him faithfully, even I have faltered at times. But somehow I know now that everything is going to be different. This child is going to save us. The Lord has told me that he is going to bring peace to this place and he is going to wash us clean as the waters that run through the River Jordan.
Joseph: And we have been charged to keep him.
Mary: Then that must be our gift to the Lord: to raise his son in loving kindness and His word.
(Joseph, Mary and congregation sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem”)
Scrooge: I don’t understand. Why have you taken me back to show me the baby Jesus? I’m supposed to look at this child and start to melt inside?
Ghost of Past: It’s not just about cute babies, you know. This night was different because it was about hope. God finally fulfilled his promise by sending us his son to save us.
Scrooge: Save us from what? I don’t need anyone to rescue me.
Ghost of Past: You may be able to pay your bills and keep yourself out of the poorhouse, but God so loved the world, He gave his only son, that whomever should believe in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life.
Scrooge: You can hold the scripture, Spirit. And have you looked around lately? If anything, I only see what a fraud God was. War, disease, poverty? Where is God in all of that?
Ghost of Past: You must open your heart, Ebeneza. God cannot change the world if you do not ask Him to change your heart first. (Mary and Joseph leave. The ghost turns to leave too.) The hour draws near. So long Scrooge, and good luck with the second spirit! (Exit)
Scrooge: What a strange spirit. (The clock chimes two) What? Already? But I just bid the first spirit farewell.
(The Ghost of Christmas Present enters with a blast of trumpets from the back.)
Present: Scrooge! I’ve heard so much about you! (She rushes up the aisle.) I am the Spirit of Christmas present. (Scrooge sticks out her hand as is to shake. The ghost ignores her and gives her a big bear hug.) It’s good to finally meet you.
Scrooge: (Defensively) Who has been slandering my name? Who have you been talking to?
Present: Back up there, buddy. No one is accusing you of anything.
Present: And relax, it’s just the Big Guy upstairs. He briefs me on all of his hard cases personally. And he’s got some pretty big plans for you too, that is, if you figure out how to let go of your stubborn pride and open your heart to God’s healing by the end of this evening.
Scrooge: And if I don’t?
Present: Let me just say that it’s harder for a rich man to get in to heaven than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.
Scrooge: Oh, not you, too. Enough of the scripture. What does God care about me anyway? He sure didn’t show any interest in me before now.
Present: Oh, He’s been there all along, you just like shutting everyone out of your life. Whatever it takes to make a buck, right?
Scrooge: Yeah, well where was he when I lost my sister?
Present: Did not your nephew come to you to share your grief? Did not he ask you if he could pray for you so that you could find solace in your sorrow?
Scrooge: But that is not what I wanted. I wanted my sister back and God wouldn’t listen.
Present: He was listening. He sent His disciple to you to do just that, and you sent Him away, telling him that God was dead.
Scrooge: I was angry! If God loves me so much, why didn’t he ever come back?
Present: Didn’t you have a message this very afternoon from your nephew, requesting you to join him for Christmas dinner? (Scrooge is silent) Ebeneza, you’re so busy telling yourself that no one is listening, that you keep missing those who are reaching out to you. Come, let us go to the next place. (They exit)
(Enter Bob, Mrs. Cratchett, and Tim in a wheelchair. Tim is wearing a halo on his head.)
Bob: That was the best angel Gabriel I ever saw Tim. And I can’t believe you made it through the entire play without having to sit down!
Tim: I wanted to do it! Real angels don’t need wheel chairs. They’re strong and have wings! Mrs. Cratchett: Well, you’re strong and have wings on the inside. It takes endurance and determination to do what you did tonight.
Scrooge: (Aside) What’s wrong with Bob’s son?
Present: Oh, that’s Tim. He’s had leukemia for some time now, and his condition has been steadily deteriorating.
Scrooge: Why don’t they just take him to a doctor?
Present: They did, until Bob lost his job and his health insurance last year. And since you don’t cover your employees…
Tim: Mom, when I grow up, do you think that I can be a pilot? Then I could fly and I wouldn’t even have to stand up. (He coughs loudly.)
Mrs. Cratchett: Sure you can, kiddo. But I think that you’ve done enough flying for one night. It’s time for bed.
Tim: (Coughs) Actually, since it’s Christmas Eve, do you think that we could sing a Christmas carol?
(Bob, Mrs. Cratchett, Tim and Congregation sing “Angels We Have Heard on High”)
(They all exit)
Scrooge: Spirit, what will happen to Tim if he does not get treatment?
(The clock chimes three.)
Present: My time is up with you. Just know that God is waiting to fill your life with his love and merciful forgiveness. All you have to ask Him to is to do it. (Exit)
Scrooge: Wait, don’t leave me!
(The lights go down and a cloaked figure appears out of nowhere. The sound of wind fills the room. He approaches Scrooge and stops.)
Scrooge: I suppose you must be the Spirit of Christmas future.
(The ghost does not say anything.)
Scrooge: (Nervously) I suppose you are going to show me what the world is going to be like if I don’t open up my heart?
(The ghost points at the door and it opens. In comes Bob and Mrs. Cratchett. They are much older. She is teary eyed and carrying a tissue.)
Bob: Somehow I thought that it would get easier after all of these years, but this day never seems to stop hurting any less.
Mrs. Cratchett: You know, with all of the doctors and hospitals in the world who could have helped, it still frustrates me that in the end it came down to what they were paid to do and not what they were able to do. And Scrooge! If only she had…
Bob: I know. But Tim wouldn’t want to see us this way. He would have wanted us to forgive them, like Jesus asks us to. Being angry now isn’t going to change what happened. We can only ask for the strength to keep going.
Mrs. Cratchett: (She grabs his hands) I don’t know what I’d do if God hadn’t sent you Bob. Could you pray with me for a moment?
(They kneel and pray silently.)
Scrooge: Spirit tell me, what has happened to Tim? (Silence) He hasn’t died, has he? But they could have bought insurance to help cover the costs. Surely they don’t blame me. I pay Bob Cratchett enough. (Silence) Tell me spirit, this isn’t the way that it has to be is it? (Silence) Oh say something spirit!
(Bob and Mrs. Cratchett exit. The ghost walks to the other side of the room and Scrooge quickly follows.)
Scrooge: Spirit, what do you have to show me next? What could possibly be worse?
(The ghost points towards the back and a refugee mother and her kid run in. They walk up to the front and sit by the altar.)
Mother: We should be safe in here for now. I think we’ve gotten away from the militia for now.
Kid: Why is there so much fighting?
Mother: I don’t know. I don’t know why everyone wants to hurt each other. But your father told us to run to a church and stay here until he comes to get us, and that is what we’re going to do.
Kid: I’m scared. Do you think that they’ll be okay?
Mother: Yeah, they have to be.
Kid: Where is everyone? Why is it so empty in here? Isn’t it Christmas Eve?
Mother: I don’t know. We’re safe here. God will protect us.
(There is a loud banging on the door.)
Mother: Quick, the militia! Hide! (They exit)
Scrooge: Spirit, why are you showing me all of this? Where have all of the good people gone? (Silence) How can I change any of this? I can’t end war!
(The spirit hands Scrooge the newspaper again.)
Scrooge: (Reading) “Institutions of Faith Abandoned Across the Country: Mosques, Temples and Churches Left for Empty, While Looters Run Rampant”. This can’t be right. Not all of them. Not everyone.
(The spirit points out to the outside. Scrooge drops the paper and runs to the door looking outside.)
Scrooge: Those churches are burning! (He turns to face the ghost) Why isn’t anyone doing anything to stop it?
(The ghost points at Scrooge.)
Scrooge: But I can’t do anything! What can I do? (She runs over and grabs onto the sleeve of the ghost) Spirit take me away from this place! (She falls on his knees) Spirit, I will open my heart if this can be prevented! Tell the Lord that I will open my heart to His word and His plan! Spirit, please tell Him! (She collapses)
(The ghost slowly exits out the side door while the kids dressed as angels, shepherds and wise men come down the aisle humming “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”)
(The kids and congregation sing “O Come All Ye Faithful”.)
(Kids exeunt on last verse of song. Scrooge wakes alone back at his desk.)
Scrooge: What? Where am I? Back in my office? What day is it? (Looks at the paper) So it is Christmas day? Then I didn’t miss it! Oh, I have so much to do before I head over to surprise my nephew at his party tonight! I have so many amends to make! (Puts on her coat and scarf and exits down the aisle. On her way out, she runs into the two carolers) Oh, am I glad that I ran into you two!
Caroler One: Ma’am, we are on our way to church and we’d rather not have our mood spoiled before we get there.
Scrooge: Are you still accepting donations for that church in Africa?
Caroler Two: Well yes, but…
Scrooge: (Writes check) Here, hopefully this will cover their operating expenses for the next year and buy a proper Christmas feast for the children. And when that runs out, call me.
Caroler One: Oh, well thank you good madam!
Caroler Two: And God bless you!
(They exit in opposite directions. Bob, Mrs. Cratchett and Tim enter at the front.)
Tim: I love coming to church on Christmas! It’s like we get to meet God all over again for the first time!
Mrs. Cratchett: Why Ms. Scrooge, what are you doing here? Today is Bob’s day off.
Scrooge: Don’t worry, Mrs. Cratchett. My business with him won’t be long. I just came to settle a few bills.
Bob: Ms. Scrooge, I promise that I will pay off that loan I borrowed from you next month.
Scrooge: No, this isn’t about that. In fact, I’ve come here to give you your Christmas bonus. (Hands him a check)
Bob: (Jaw drops) Ms. Scrooge, this is more than I make in an entire year!
Scrooge: Consider it a cost of living increase. And I intend to give you the same as your salary for next year as well, in addition to paying for your health care coverage.
Bob: I don’t know what to say! Thank you Ms. Scrooge.
Scrooge: No thanks are necessary. And one more thing - (Hands another check) This is my personal gift to you - to pay for any uncovered medical costs. For Tim’s treatment.
Mrs. Cratchett: But Ms. Scrooge, this is a blank check!
Scrooge: You know, I think the service is about to begin.
Pastor: Before we get started this fine Christmas eve, does anyone have any joys that they would like to share with the congregation?
Tim: I do! I ask that God open all of our hearts, and bless us, everyone.
Pastor: Now if we could have a moment of silence to dwell on that holy night that God gave us so long ago.
(Silence while the candles are begin to be lit.)
(The players gather at the front and lead the congregation in singing “Silent Night”.)
© Heather Sevrens, all rights reserved. The script may not be reproduced, translated or copied in any medium, including books, CDs and on the Internet, without written permission of the author.
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. She may be contacted at: Hsevrens@gmail.com; firstname.lastname@example.org