The saga begins on a “cold, bleak, biting” Christmas Eve in New York’s Harlem, exactly seven years after the death of Enoch Shadoobee’s business partner Blabber Mouth Jones. Enoch Shadoobee, a street thug, is established within the first Chapter as “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, black racist, street hustler!” He hates Christmas, calling it “bullshit”; he refuses his nephew ‘s Christmas dinner invitation, and he sarcastically turns away two white gentlemen who seek a donation from him to provide a Christmas dinner for the poor and needy black people. His only “Christmas gift” is allowing his loyal, yet desultory, assistant’s Christmas Day off with pay – which he does only to keep with social custom, Enoch Shadoobee considering it “a poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every 25th of December!”

At home that night, Enoch Shadoobee is visited by Blabber Mouth’s ghost, who is forever cursed to wander the earth dragging a network of heavy chains, forged during a lifetime of greed and selfishness. Yaphet Kotto follows the story line almost as close to the original author’s work and describes the apparition thus: “Blabber Mouth’s face … had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar.” Blabber Mouth has a bandage under his chin, tied at the top of his head; “… how much greater was his horror, when the phantom taking off the bandage round its head, as if it were too warm to wear indoors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast!”

Blabber Mouth tells Enoch Shadoobee that he has one chance to avoid the same fate and that he will be visited by three spirits, one on each successive evening and that he must listen to them or be cursed to carry chains of his own that are much longer than Blabber Mouth’s chains. As Blabber Mouth departs, Shadoobee witnesses other restless spirits who now wish they could help their fellow man, but are powerless to do so. Enoch Shadoobee is then visited by the three spirits Blabber Mouth spoke of – each visit detailed in a separate Chapter – who accompany him on visits to various Christmas scenes.