No writer is more identified with the modern idea of Christmas than Charles Dickens. In some ways, Dickens helped define the holiday that we w celebrate by immortalizing it as a time of warmth and sharing, with an emphasis on family and friends. Dickens wrote all the stories presented here during the 1850s as contributions to the special Christmas issues of Household Words, the weekly magazine he founded and edited. Included are fictional sketches verging on the autobiographical, recollections of childhood, reflections on past holidays and old friends, as well as tales of misunderstandings and lost opportunities. They reaffirm the virtue of nurturing our traditions and offer a master storyteller's vision of the real meaning of Christmas.