In A Christmas Carol, Dickens employs a frame story to introduce a part of the narrative at the beginning and finish it at the end. The frame story begins in Scrooge's counting house on Christmas Eve. Within that frame, Scrooge sees Marley's ghost and three spirits that take him on a journey to the past, present, and future.
The frame story lends itself well to a story with supernatural elements. When Marley's ghost comes to visit, it announces that Scrooge will go on a journey with three spirits. When Scrooge walks over to his bedroom window, in a state of extreme curiosity from his strange encounter, he sees an even stranger sight:
The air filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives[...]. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.
This wild description clearly diverges from the realism of the first few passages and separates the frame story from Scrooge's journey. Although the frame story spans only one night (Christmas Eve), much happens, and the efforts of each spirit result in Scrooge's ultimate change of heart.