There once was a man named Mr. Grichwald and each year during the Christmas season he would be a bell ringer for a charitable organization collecting money to buy Christmas presents for the underprivileged children in the community, for who in their right mind would not want to help poor needy underprivileged children especially at Christmas time. So each year, for many years now, he felt it his duty to help the children and was honored and proud to do so. But each year, since times were tough, he seemed to collect less and less money, and it took his toll on him and this year he had become disenchanted, disheartened and disgusted with the whole Christmas thing itself.
Now on this chilly wintry bitter cold night he stood outside a chain drug store in a mini mall as a young mother and her kindergarten age son approached. He rang his bell and smiled at them and the mother was taken in by his kindly old grandfatherly looking smile and smiled back.
She was about to open her pocket book and make a small, but nevertheless a donation, for after all it was the thought that counted, and it was the Christmas thing to do, when Mr. Grichwald, and it was never known whether it was the hours in the cold or the lack of contributions he received that night, for he had received none, that caused him to do what he did next, but Mr. Grichwald suddenly cracked, and broke, and blurted out, “Christmas. Bah. Humbug!”
“Pardon me,” said the startled young mother. “Did you say, “Christmas bah humbug?”
“Yah Lady. Christmas. Bah. Humbug,” he repeated. “What’s it to you?”
“Well I never,” she said appalled.
To which Mr. Grinchwald replied, “Well it’s about time you did.” He didn’t know what he meant by that but he said it all the same because he thought it was clever.
“Is that man the Grinch?” asked her son.
“Yes I am Tiny Timmy, or whatever your name is. I’m the Evil Grinch,” he caroled.
“Bah humbug for now. Bah humbug in spades. Bah humbug forever. Bah Humbug,” he brayed.
The mother drug her son into the drugstore without another word and Mr. Grichwald felt better for having gotten that off his chest. And when the next person approached he did likewise. And again he felt good having indirectly cursed Christmas with another bah humbug. So he did it again and again and after he had done this a few times more, the store manager came out and had a brief but unpleasant, and somewhat heated conversation with him, informing him that his customers were complaining about him. Bottom line he was ordered him to take his act somewhere else or the police would be called. And that was fine with Mr. Grichwald but for the fact that he had three more hours left on his shift before someone came to relieve him. So he moved just two doors down so that whoever came to replace him at the drugstore would see him there. Two doors down was a liquor store and that’s where he set up shop.
He set up his donation kettle and began ringing his ding a ling bell when a middle aged man approached. “Spare me the speech fella,” he said to Mr. Grichwald. “I ain’t giving you no money.”
To which Mr. Grichwald replied, “I don’t blame you kind sir for neither would I. Christmas bah humbug.”
The man was taken back momentarily, then smiled and said, “You know I’m kind of glad to hear that for a change,” and dug into his billfold and took out some folding money. “Those are my feelings exactly. Christmas, bah humbug. Ya know if it wasn’t for booze I’d never get through Christmas. It gives me the fortitude to put up with my wife’s sisters and her bratty kids. Every year it’s the same old god damn thing. She invites them over to our house, at our expense, they eat all our food, they never bring any of their own, and their kids. Well their kids just keep yelling, screaming and fighting with each other the whole goddamn time and hog the tv watching that goddamn Charlie Brown Christmas special that they’ve seen a hundred times. Hell I can’t even watch football on my own tv in my own house. Ya Christmas bah humbug! Amen brother. I’m with you on that.”
And with that said, the man stuffed the couple of bills into his kettle. And on his way out he dropped in his loose change.
And then it dawned on Mr. Grichwald that he had found the perfect place to collect Christmas donations, that being in front of a liquor store. He then bah humbugged every individual going into the store and made a point to engage that person in a conversation as why they both cared not for Christmas. It made no difference as the person’s sex, age, marital status, religion, or ethnicity for they all did not like the holiday season for one reason or another and wanted it to be over with as soon as possible. So they talked to him because he was a sympathetic ear to their plight. And when they had gotten it all off their chest, they invariably felt better and made a donation. Mr. Grichwald had his best day ever and so did the store owner for he came out, slipped him a pint of brandy and said, “Keep up the good work.” Mr. Grichwald thought he meant good work for charity but the store owner meant something else.
The three hours passed quickly and enjoyably. Mr. Grichwald never felt cold, thanks to the brandy, and reluctantly he gave up his post when his relief arrived. But before he left, he first made sure that his replacement would stay right there and do just as he had done.
And as he left, he smiled, and said with delight, “Bah humbug to all. And to all a good night.”
Author B. Craig Grafton’s stories have appeared in Scarlet Leaf Review, Fear of Monkeys, and Frontier Tales.
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