Last year on this date I sat down with Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge, the sole proprietor of the established firm of Scrooge and Marley, a commodity trading and futures speculation company in our community. I had heard that the company had made some major modifications in its business plan. This change had occurred abruptly after Christmas of last year on a whim I followed up.

The first change one notices when arriving at the firm is the dungy and gloomy offices have been renovated. Windows now add a decent amount of sunlight and spaciousness to the office. The office temperature in line with other offices and another stove has been added. Two additional clerks have been hired, and the office ledgers are up to date and well organized.

Mr. Scrooge greeted me in a reserved and professional manner. He still has reservations about the press, especially since the events of last Christmas. I informed Mr. Scrooge that I had heard rumors about ghosts and spirits, but Scrooge would only state that reports were exaggerated. Scrooge would only admit to a “visit” in the form of a dream from his former business partner Jacob Marley.

When asked about the current tax climate, Scrooge indicated that if the tax bill passed he would distribute some of the money saved by lower taxes to his employees. Mr. Scrooge was also pleased that the stock market was doing well. When asked about the elimination of the estate tax, Scrooge was cautious. He indicated he supported the elimination of the tax but only as a means to pass along his money to his nephew Fred; Scrooge expected that Fred would continue Scrooge’s newly found tradition of charitable giving.

When asked to what charity he was currently giving to, unlike last year, Scrooge quickly responded that his chief clerk’s son had been diagnosed with both rickets and tuberculosis. So his charitable giving was to the American Lung Association Christmas Seal Campaign and to Easter Seals to help kids with disabilities. Tiny Tim is now being treated for both of his health concerns. The Scrooge and Marley Trust is picking up the cost.

In our conversation regarding the Scrooge and Marley trust, Scrooge became cautious again. Scrooge does not believe in socialized medicine and was none too sure about the Affordable Care Act. A longtime member of the 1 percent, Scrooge was unwilling to commit to any course of action that put him ill at ease. He no longer supported the workhouses and the poor farms but he was not ready to embrace a welfare state. Then to my surprise he asked if I was hungry and should we step out for a bite of lunch?

We crossed the street to a nearby pub to have a pint or so and a burger to go with it. People in the pub greeted Scrooge with merriment and a friendliness that I would never have seen last year. A waitress asked us for our order and gave Scrooge quite a grin. When asked if it would be one check or two, Scrooge spoke up and said “two of course”. The entire pub laughed. It appears a leopard does not change its spots all at once.

During lunch, I once again approached Scrooge about his change in habits and change in disposition. I kept the ghost of Jacob Marley out of it. Scrooge took a long drink of his Leinenkugel’s Creamy Dark and began to speak.

Scrooge admitted that he did have “visitors” last Christmas Eve; after he had a dreary dinner in this very pub. Scrooge said that those visitors forced him to think of his life and what his legacy would be. He had only one family member living, his nephew Fred and his wife. He had few friends, and he was in fact lonely. His eyes drifted off then he almost said “Humbug!” but he caught himself.

Lunch was over, and Scrooge picked up the check. As we parted I asked him about his Christmas plans. He was going over to Bob Cratchit‘s house on Christmas Eve then to his nephew Fred’s for Christmas Day. As we parted he drew me aside and said, “Please don’t tell anyone I picked up the check, I have to keep up appearances!”

John R. Andersen of Lake Hallie is a former state employee who remains active in the fields of fire prevention, government and education.

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Hope that Fred would continue Scrooge’s newly found tradition of charitable giving...
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