Jubilators … October 7th 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jubilators

Today we begin a novel called “Jubilators,” which over the next twelve weeks leading up to Christmas, will put us in the Spirit, with a comedic, romantic romp, often speckled with poignant and tender moments.

Hope you enjoy.

And now, here’s “Jubilators.”

Sitting One

The Assignment

 Shelley knew this was her moment. She squinted, peering around the windowless, confinding office, taking stock.

At twenty-four years of age, she was a newbie at the prestigious public relations firm, Dunlevy and Markins. To assign such a project to her was certainly a test. She knew this. More importantly, they knew this–“they” being Mr. Roger Dunlevy and Mr. Ronald Markins.

Shelley didn’t want to blow it. She needed to project the right balance of confidence and serious contemplation over the magnitude of the project. For the hundredth time, she picked up the memo. Was she sure she understood the task?

“Find a new commercial name for Christmas that merges the many existing holiday observances of a variety of faiths with the more traditional approach, while still emphasizing the Santa Claus imperative for the children and the marketers.”

A part of Shelley was bewildered by the job. For years there had been a growing conflict between the religious and more conventional advocates over the holiday.

The believers wanted more “Jesus” included or emphasis for Hanukkah. Of course, then Kwanzaa came into play. The rest of the country seemed to be looking for a festive season free of Middle-East theology.

Of course, the great problem was the money. The December season was a financial boost to business. Some retailers made as much as ninety percent of their earnings in the twelfth month. Much on the line. A bottom line.

And for Shelley, a career maker.

She was informed that she could hire four other people for her team. She had already decided on her quartet.

Mike, from accounting, was an evangelical Christian. He could bring the perspective of the church community.

Lisa, an executive assistant, was Jewish. She should know about Hanukkah.

Charmaine, an admin… Well, she was black. Chances are she might be able to tap the Kwanzaa sentiment.

And Timothy, a tech, was a Christmas nut–a historian of sorts concerning all things Santa, elf, North Pole and tinsel.

Shelley told her team that they had three weeks to deliver a report to the boss and major stockholders. Here were the questions that needed to be addressed:

Will all the parties involved consider a new name for Christmas?

What can be retained, what evolved and what discarded of the traditions?

What is the best approach? A sudden transformation?: Or a gradual revelation?

Will it damage sales?

How can we make everybody happy?

Shelley decided to give the four of them ten days to investigate and deliver a two thousand-word report on their findings. Simultaneously, she would troll the waters of all four environments to acquire a consensus.

Shelley was nervous. It wasn’t just the new assignment–she wondered if she wanted to be the Madison Avenue chick who snuffed out Christmas–at least the name. She had a vision of herself in a Grinch costume, tallying numbers on an old-fashioned adding machine, as Baby Jesus was carried away by Children’s Services and elves cried over “reindeer for sale.”

She looked horrible as a green monster. Yet…it was her moment–an opportunity to enhance her personal profile and give Christmas a name-lift. She suddenly grabbed her pen and paper and wrote that down.

Name-lift. She could sell that.

It was a good start.

Sitting Two

The Investigation

Mike went home to Tarshift, Alabama, to do his research.

Tarshift was a suburb of Birmingham if you don’t mind driving forty-five miles to get your hot buttered popcorn at the Metroplex.

Mike arrived in time to attend the worship service at the Community Faith in Action Non-Denominational church just four blocks from his homestead.

When Mike shared the substance the project, two old ladies and a grumpy deacon stomped out of the Sunday School class. The remaining faithful were respectful of their favorite son, but grouchy over the liberal West Coast atheists attacking Holy Christmas once again.

“Why cain’t they just see that it’s Jesus’ birthday?” one woman snarled.

Yet persistent to a fault, Mike continued his questioning. “What name would you accept other than Christmas?”

Silence.

No one in the classroom wanted to betray Baby Jesus. So Mike asked the gathered to think about it and slip him a note of suggestion after church.

After the sermon, as he walked by the pastor, offering his appreciation, and headed to his car, Mike got three crumpled pieces of paper thrust into his hand, and one whisper in his ear.

The first note read, “How about Bethlehem Day?”

He unfolded the second note, which had scrawled, “I thought of Birth Boy.”

And the final suggestion was, “Jesus Fest.”

By the way, the whisper in his ear–Old Lady Wilkerson. She said, “I’m praying for you.”

Lisa also returned to her home, which was in Connecticut, near Hartford. She went to synagogue. She hadn’t been there since high school graduation. The new rabbi, Conrad Turtsky, was delighted to talk to her about Hanukkah. She explained in some detail about her task as the rabbi’s countenance remained unchanged, sprouting a reluctant smile.

At length she asked him what he thought.

“Well,” he began hesitantly, “I have always been content with Hanukkah getting the crap beat out of it by Christmas. After all, candles being lit…well, don’t hold a candle to angels, wise men and a heavy-set Dutchman giving toys to little ones.”

He concluded their visit by giving Lisa a pamphlet on the subject, half of which was written in Yiddish.

Charmaine, on the other hand, made a decision to research by going to the Internet and look up Kwanzaa on Wikipedia.

Kwanzaa: an African-American holiday first celebrated in 1966-1967 as an alternative to the “white” Christmas. It is one-week-long and honors African music, folklore and art.

Charmaine shook her head. She closed the program, rolled her eyes and went to her bedroom to take a nap.

Timothy made a trip to Bronner’s Christmas Village in Frankenmuth, Michigan–the world’s largest Christmas store. He was in heaven, which he viewed as only slightly above the North Pole. Reindeer, elves, lights, tinsel, Christmas bulbs, Santa Claus, snow globes–row after row.

He asked one of the floor managers what the biggest sellers were.

“Anything with Claus, mangers or sparkles,” he answered, as he hurriedly chased a little boy who had a huge box of ornaments in his grasp.

So Timothy decided to conduct his own experiment. He had personally compiled a list of six possible “safe” new names for Christmas. It was his plan to walk up to shoppers at Bronners, say one of the new names, and gauge their spontaneous reaction.

“Wonderful Winterfest!” A blank stare.

“Satisfying Santa Day!” A giggle.

“A Joyous Snow ‘n Glow to you!” A frown, and then a grandpa stomped away.

He was particularly proud of his next incarnation.

He had formed an acronym of Santa, elf, Jesus, reindeer, Africa and Hanukkah.

“Happy S.E.J.R. A. H!”

The old woman stared at him with sympathetic eyes, reached into her purse, pulled out two singles and gave it to him, saying, “Young man, get a sandwich. You’ve got low blood sugar.”

He only had one idea remaining. So Timothy decided to try it out on the in-house Kris Kringle; Father Christmas–Santa Claus himself. Arriving in the tiny workshop provided for the local jolly old elf, Timothy leaned into his face and said, “Great Jubilation!”

Santa squinted. He slowly tugged his beard and deadpanned, “Ho. Ho. Ho.”

Mike prayed that Shelley had better luck. He had barely escaped crucifixion in Tarshift.

Lisa was baffled, although the rabbi did convince her to buy a Menorah and two raffle tickets for the Prius being given away to raise funds for the needy.

Charmaine was frightened–first to report to Shelley, and secondly about being black and not caring one tinker’s dam about Kwanzaa.

Timothy was more optimistic. Or maybe just on a sugar high from a candy cane overdose.

The four of them headed back to headquarters.

It was time to report to Shelley.

 

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