There can't be many people who don?t know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his Christmas Eve transformation from being a, errrr, Scrooge, to a decent human being.
So that said, I won't spend time relating the details of the plot.
Coming to this again, one thing struck me that has never struck me before ? the absence here of a religious theme and a religious salvation.
It's not that Dickens has excised religion from the story, but that it is not the foremost issue. None of the spirits that visit Scrooge, from Marley on, invoke the language of a Christian idea of eternal damnation. And the spirit of Christmas present is positively pagan in style, and pictured initially surrounded by vast amounts of food, suggestive of sensual pleasure rather than any Victorian denial in the name of spiritual welfare.
There are no mentions of hell nor of heaven. Dickens, in terms of what he posits as a future for Scrooge, suggests an humanitarian one. He stresses the missed opportunities for relationships in Scrooge's life ? and the chance to make amends by experiencing relationships and by experiencing what it feels like to help a fellow human being.
Thus, at the end, when Scrooge changes, there is a real sense of joy ? and it's a joy in humanity and in the rich possibilities of life lived to the full.
Perhaps such an absence of religious expression explains, in part at least, the continuing popularity of the story.