On a cold Christmas eve, the entire village was lit with lights and Christmas merriments were filled in the air. Away from this noise stood a small house. A snowman stood at the entrance of the small garden. Small flower shrubs adorned the freshly painted fence. The dim light from the house made the house look warm and cozy. This house belonged to Mr. Harris, an old man who was famous among the villagers for being very strict with kids. They mockingly called him “bitter grandpa “. They said the kids who were found doing mischief with him were punished by the bitter grandpa.
The fireplace was burning bright and grandpa was rocking on his rocking chair listening to Christmas carols. He was very happy as it was a different Christmas this year. Mr. Harris changed the opinion of the entire village within a day. Yesterday, when Mr. Harris was off to the market, the neighboring village kids jumped upon his garden fence, broke his window panes and entered his kitchen. They messed up the fruit basket and stole some oranges and treated themselves with the chocolate muffins stored in the jar. They squashed eggs on his curtains and wiped their dirty hands with the table cloth. They thought that Mr. Harris was too old to even catch them. But they were unaware that the villagers were very well aware of his temperament. The moment they saw Mr. Harris nearing home, the naughty bunch tried to jump from the kitchen window damaging his flower shrubs. The old man was very agile. He caught hold of one of them by his collar and the others had a narrow escape. The grip of Mr. Harris was so strong that the kid could not even shake. “Well son” said grandpa “You and your friends have messed up my house and there is no pardon for such a mistake. I will leave you only if you promise to come back now with your friends to make good for the damage done.” The kid was all scared and trembling. He said, “Sir, please forgive me I will never do this mistake “. But Mr. Harris was very determined and furious. He said, “No kid, this small mistake today will cost you a big punishment tomorrow if I let go. So, get going and bring the others too. Else I will have to take you all to the sheriff. Be quick, I want all of you here right now.” The angry words echoed in the kids ears and he stumbled and ran to see for his friends. The nervous kids were watching all of this from behind the tree and were scared to face the grandpa. The boys very hesitatingly knocked the door. Mr. Harris opened the door, looked at the boys and said, “Ah there you are! You all have caused a lot of damage to my house and it cannot be ignored. Like good boys get on the job and start cleaning up the mess. Wash the curtains and table cloth with the warm water kept in the tub. The shrubs are damaged, you will have to replant them. And lastly, for the stolen oranges and muffins you have to paint my garden fence. No mistake is small till you punish the wrong doers. Small mistakes turn to big offences if ignored. Come on, start your work while I relax and monitor you all.” The scared kids got into action They were all on their toes and regretted as to why did they ever do such a thing. After all the cleaning and repairing the tired hands stood in front of Mr. Harris. He then smiled and said, “Very well-done boys, you all did a good job. For this I will treat you all with good food.” The kids were surprised and their gloomy faces glowed with happiness and one of them came ahead and said, “We are sorry for our mistake and we promise you that we will never repeat this mistake ever again. Also, you have been so forgiving and kind that we still can’t believe why villagers called you the bitter grandpa. We will go and tell everyone how kind you are. Right friends?” The happy bunch shouted out loud, “Yes we will”. Grandpa treated them with hot chocolate, fresh cut fruits, muffins and caramel custard. They ate their fill and thanked grandpa for making them a changed lot. They all went back home in the evening as next day was Christmas.
On the Christmas day as grandpa was getting ready to go to the church the boys returned with home-made sweets and gifts for their “sweet grandpa” and they all had a good time with each other. Just before sunset the kids returned home and promised Mr. Harris that they would visit him every day. That evening Mr. Harris was very happy and contented. He was not lonely at all and felt that this Christmas surely was different with his newly found friends.
The entire Christmas eve went well with grandpa all happy rocking on his chair. The villagers, with a changed opinion lauded him for teaching good values to the kids. Some of them visited him to wish Merry Christmas. He surely was happy and was no more called as “The Bitter Grandpa “.