Selections from Mr. Kringle’s Tales: A Miracle for Elf Randy

In a variation on “From the Stacks,” I have decided to offer you, between now and Christmas, a few of Jonathan’s stories from one of his most popular books:

Mr. Kringle’s Tales: 26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

Not that many people can write “funny,” but it was one of Jonathan’s gifts. This particular story might make you laugh out loud–a trauma of elf-sized proportion.


A Miracle for Elf Randy

The scourge of Elfdom, causing the tiniest heart to palpitate in fear—a malady so intense that the eyes bulge in abstract horror:

Tallitis—a disease leaving the once-proudly miniscule elf with swollen hands, feet, nose, ears, arms and legs, while skyrocketing the victim to a freakish FOUR FEET IN HEIGHT. Eat a bowl of four-leaf clovers and pray to be spared.

Elf Randy wasn’t so lucky.

About a month earlier, he had noticed that his little toe was larger, challenging his big toe for Top Little Piggy. A fluke, he decided. Then his left ear sprouted new length—terrifying. He had to wear a scarf and hat to disguise it.

Two days later, the nose became bulbous, the right knee a mountain and his lips ballooned to the size of inner tubes. There weren’t enough hats or scarves to disguise the disgrace.

“You have Tallitis!” screamed Elf Candy.

A tragedy.

Elf Randy was forced to live in a stable with the reindeer (because no one was quite sure if Tallitis was contagious.)

He busted out of his clothes and Mrs. Kringle had to darn him a robe made out of a used blanket from a reindeer stall.

Things were looking up—but for an elf with Tallitis, that was bad.

Doctor Ulandi risked a visit. “I’ve been thinking about Tallitis,” he said.

“Do you have a cure?” Randy was desperate.

“If the problem is big, then we need to think small. I want to try something.”

Doctor Ulandi pulled out a handful of pills. “What makes us shrink more than diet pills? Then I want you to soak in a bathtub of lemon juice, read a story by Edgar Allen Poe, drink seven cups of coffee…”

“Wait! I don’t understand,” interrupted Randy.

Doctor Ulandi heaved a sigh. “You see, diet pills make you lose weight. Lemon juice causes you to pucker. The story will cause you to shrink back in fear. And the coffee will stunt your growth.”

“Will it work?”

“No,” Ulandi said. “But it will keep us occupied until you explode.”

“Explode??!”

“Just kidding,” Doctor Ulandi said innocently. “But anyway, the final step is to throw you in the washer on the hot cycle.”

“What?”

“Well, it sure shrunk my pee-jammers last week.” Ulandi smiled and frowned at the same time.

Well, of course, Elf Randy agreed to try it. He followed each step faithfully. And so, coffee-breathed and starving, he dove into the washer.

Round and round he went in the oversized contraption, an elf needing to be “Cheered” and swept by the “Tide.”

When the cycle stopped, Ulandi shouted, “Hurry! Throw him in the hot dryer on ‘whites only’!”

Finally the dryer stopped tumbling. The door was opened. Damp elf smell encompassed the room.

A leg plopped out. A tiny leg. Then another.

Randy dropped to the floor—a new pixie.

Healed.

“It’s a miracle!” he exclaimed.

Doctor Ulandi gasped. Then, regaining his composure, he proclaimed, “You are re-Elfed.”

Randy returned to shop life.

A cure for Tallitis had been found.

Doctor Ulandi submitted his findings to a medical journal. (They declined to publish due to a very tiny readership.)

Ulandi summarized the day, “Well, as they say—it all comes out in the wash!”


If the story intrigues you, go ahead and purchase a copy of the book. It’s on Amazon.

Click the title to purchase your own copy

Mr. Kringle’s Tales: 26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

 

 

Drawing Attention … December 9th, 2020

Trees of Blue

(tap the picture to see the video)

Music:  Variations on a Theme by Eric Satis

performed by Blood Sweat and Tears

Click here to visit Clazzy Art website!

Living a Legendary Life … November 22nd, 2020

Slip-Slidin’ Away

If you’re intrigued with the notion of living a legendary life, you have to be aware of (and beware) slippage.

In olden times they referred to it as “backsliding”–allowing oneself to back away from principles once held dear because the temperature of the times have changed.

In the past ten years, we’ve allowed a streak of meanness to become acceptable. I’m sure this is no surprise.

But the meanness brings about a slippage in the attitudes of people toward each other–and even in the passion for life.

It’s like the proverbial rolling stone:

Those who were once merciful have slipped into being merely open-minded, leaving mercy abandoned.

The open-minded people have slipped to being generous–but only to people they know well or who are related to them.

Generous folks have backslidden to being kind–hoping that flashing a smile will suffice without having to commit to action.

And kind people, who used to think up ways to be contributors, have slipped to nice. If at all possible they will offer a pleasant countenance to the world around them–unless something odd happens.

At that point, nice people become careful. They will swear that the reason they become careful is because the world is screwed up and “you can’t trust anybody.”

And of course, careful people drop into being suspicious. They talk about animals being more trustworthy than humans.

And those who were naturally suspicious before become downright grouchy. They don’t even pretend to lead with a sweetness of spirit. It’s too risky.

And it goes without saying, there were people who were grouchy to begin with. They have become edgy–ready for a fight. Unfortunately, edgy people usually find that fight, and end up being bullies.

Bullies have become fighters and fighters are more violent.

The Republicans blame the Democrats and vice versa–but this problem of slippage did not come along with Donald Trump. Even if he exacerbated the problem, you have to admit that during the two terms of President Obama, there was a mind-boggling amount of fussing, arguing and struggling

You may consider this a “conservative” problem, or the “liberal media.”

But here’s something we all need to face:  If we’ve done everything we can do to improve our nation, our states, our cities, and there’s nothing more we can do, then perhaps it’s time for us to just work on ourselves.

Where have you slipped to?

Where have you fallen?

If even 10% of the population would raise their human effort up one notch, to the position they occupied before 2016, there would be such an improvement in the climate of this country that the other 90% would not be able to ignore it.

Now is the time to stop backsliding.

Let us lead the leaders. After all, there are no indication that government, business, education or religion is going to lead a resurgence in civil behavior.

No–it’ll be up to us. Let’s just take a look at our own slippage, and climb up one notch toward civility.

And my friends, it’s a necessary step if we’re going to lead legendary lives.

From the Stacks … November 20th, 2020

Jonathan had an acute awareness of the brevity of life. My son rediscovered this particular essay demonstrating that very thing and was moved by it. Jonathan wrote it on his birthday in 2011.


Musings Upon Turning Sixty

 

I am a child of God

The heavens reverberate with a shudder of grief when I am in tears

The angels from a million pinnacles give a shout when I find joy

For I am part of a universal plan

A determining factor in His Almighty decision

Whether I fly by night or drive by day

All of heaven is hushed and brought to action

When I am in need …

This is a poem I wrote on a Greyhound bus when I was twenty years old, on my way to meet up with a friend who was in need. I had two packets of Zesta crackers, a can of Diet coke and exactly $1.25 in my wallet for other incidental expenses. I didn’t care. After all, I liked Zesta crackers. I also didn’t care that I had $1.25 in my pocket.

Truthfully, I still don’t.

I wake up this morning sixty years of age. My birthday

Sixty is significant.

First of all, you’re no longer in your fifties–that in-between season, in which you’re not quite an old codger yet, though you’re past many “studly” possibilities.

No, sixty is different.

It’s the gateway drug to Medicare.

There are sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour. Sixty is three twenties, six tens, four fifteens, twelve fives… Now I’m just being ridiculous.

The reason I shared the verse at the beginning of this essay is that I could have written it today and it would have been just as fresh and true.

I still believe it.

I still believe that I am a son of God–not in the sense that I must be careful handling my water glass, lest it gain alcoholic proportions, but a son of God because I am included in the mind of my Creator and Father.

Everybody in our generation is concerned about “liberal” and “conservative,” right and left–but honestly, my friends, I’ve always prayed for a straight, plain path and avoided the drastic turns based on society’s pressure to conform.

In the 1960’s, when I was  teenager, it was posh to cast a jaundiced eye towards civil rights and social reform while rallying around the American flag regarding Vietnam. It just never made sense to me to go halfway around the world to kill off the people in a small country in the name of democracy when we hadn’t yet given full rights to all of our citizens.

In the 1970’s, it was all about partying and lavishing oneself with platitudes of perfection and dancing the night away. Since I knew I wasn’t perfect and wasn’t a very good dancer, I chose to work on my personality, principles and trying to practice what I preached.

In the 1980’s, while the religious community was becoming obsessed with social issues, I continued to expound upon the notion that since God does not look on the outward appearance buts looks on the heart, we should spend more time working on our own internals and not so much about our other people’s  morality.

Likewise, in the 90’s and even coming into the 2000’s, I just could never sign on the dotted line” of the Contract with America. After all, who’s America were they talking about?

The reason for my choices?

It’s because I know how limited my faculties are, how fragile my talents and how weak my resolve.

The problem with self-esteem is that it so easily loses its steam–always having to be boiled up again. Truly, a waste of time, energy and talent, perpetuating self-involvement and little awareness of the needs of others.

Today I am sixty years old. How do I feel?

Starting with my feet–they feel about seventy-five.

My ankles are hangin’ in there at about fifty-two.

My knees are about ninety-one.

My hips maintain a really cool forty.

My waist? Well, let’s not go there.

My heart is a mystery, but certainly has more creaks than it used to.

My face has a myriad of ages, depending on how much sleep I get.

My eyes are a split vote–the right one an octogenarian, and the left one, still floating around thirty-five.

 My emotions are daily cleansed so they’re like a newborn.

My soul is always attempting to be as old as God but as young as a child.

And my brain? Well, my brain is still twenty years old, riding on that bus, believing that God cares …  about me.

Don’t be so concerned about the right and the left. Look at where you want to go–and steer your life straight ahead. Because after we’re gone, no one is going to discuss our faults, only our good points. If we don’t leave behind much of a record of righteousness, we probably won’t be mentioned at all. What I want people to remember is that I started out doing something and on the morning I passed, I was still doing it.

So let me call sixty a bookmark. 

I have fewer chapters to write than those that have already been edited.

But that means I have the complete capability of going for a great twist in the end.

Drawing Attention … November 16th, 2020

A Chilling

(tap the picture to see the video)

Music:  A Chilling from the symphony, Ingathering

by Jonathan Richard Cring

Click here to visit Clazzy Art website!

Living a Legendary Life … November 15th, 2020

The Clay Way

Henry Clay was known as the “Great Compromiser.”  Although he ran for President of the United States five times–and lost five times–the main thrust of his political career was in Congress, negotiating the particular “deal of the day.”

Although the Washington and Lincoln are extolled by the history books as great leaders, Henry Clay is rarely mentioned in the same breath. It certainly isn’t because of inactivity. He was probably the most powerful political figure of his era.

It’s because he was the great compromiser–and ended up negotiating matters that really should never have been negotiated. For you see, Henry Clay found himself in the position of trying to compromise a deal between the North and South and the emerging states of the Union over the issue of slavery.  Although most historians will agree that Henry Clay, himself, was opposed to the institution, he felt it was more important to maintain the status quo of a peaceful union than to pursue the excellence of a slave-free society.

  • When is it right to be peaceful? 
  • When is it necessary to raise the fuss that creates the change that fosters new attitudes that lead to a better world?

 Some things may be compromised and some things are not negotiable.

In leading a legendary life, perhaps the greatest attribute to attain is discernment.  And specifically, discerning what is changing, what needs to change, what will change and what must remain the same. If you mix these up, you end up on the short end of the stick, with history viewing you as an encumbrance.  So how do we know the difference?  How do we determine what is flowing toward evolution and what is carved into the face of the mountain?

There is nothing wrong with the great discussion.

What is the great discussion?  Who are we, why are we, where did we come from and where in the hell are we going?  Feel free to participate with gusto at will.  Just do not be so arrogant or ignorant to build a fort in any particular idea. People who think they know God’s address, telephone number and all of his personal habits are not only laughable, but potentially dangerous.

I heard a preacher the other day on television quote the great Hebrews scripture, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  I had to smile.  For most assuredly, the minister’s interpretation was that what Moses believed about God is still true today.  When actually, that scripture means that Jesus, who was in a constant state of learning and growing in stature and wisdom while he was mortal on this planet, was always that way and is still learning and growing and expanding today.  I cannot believe in a deity that asks me to repent at whim while maintaining a permanent residence with no revision.

So what are the absolutes in life?  What are the things that are immutable?  Do they actually exist?  Is there a compass, or is life just a boat without a rudder and an oar?

I believe there are only three absolutes in this life from which we draw all the energy for decision-making and interaction with our human fellows.

1. There are no chosen people.

There are just folks who choose to stay involved. Every time we have tried to isolate one group of people as a superior race, the result has always been destructive.

We are not chosen. We are here. Any attempt to improve our status by birth, doctrine, proclamation, skin color, national origin or sexual preference is a futile adventure in fatalism.

If you must think you’re special, be prepared to always be trumped by those with a stronger case and more militant inclinations.

2.  Any belief in a supreme being that doesn’t place human beings in a primal role is erred.

I can just hear the groans and the moans from the religiously fervent from all over the world. “He’s trying to make people God.” 

No.  I’m just trying to say that it’s impossible to reach God without respecting Bob and Sally.

There is only one absolute that comes to play in blending the supernatural and the natural.  It’s phrased in many different ways but the end conclusion is the same.

We must duplicate in other people what we want done for ourselves. 

Yes, what goes around comes around.  Any breach in this practice, or any attempt to circumvent human beings and their needs will not end in favor from either God or man.

3. We are evolving towards simplicity.

The only certainty on this planet is change. And ultimately, that change is an evolution toward simplicity. If you want to get into the flow of the cosmos, find a simpler path and a plainer, more direct way of dealing with others and the everyday things that make life tick.

Complexity is what causes the philosopher to ruminate over things that don’t really matter, the theologian to preach homilies that homogenize nothing, and the politician to pass laws that make the inevitable illegal.

  • Keep it simple, stupid.
  • There are no chosen people.
  • And human beings must play a primal role.

You can either follow the example of the Great Compromiser, Henry Clay, and end up negotiating the destiny of men already deemed equal in a higher court of understanding, or you can abandon the foolishness of absolutes and deal with the round, rotating world.

After all, it’s the only one we know for sure that exists.

From the Stacks … November 13th, 2020

In November of 2016, Jonathan found himself contemplating the initial difficulty that always appears whenever there is talk of “repairing the breach.” His thoughts are oddly applicable today. See if you agree.

 

A great book once alleged that there is great power in “repairing the breach”–finding that break in etiquette or sensibility that can be covered with a multitude of grace.

It is a noble notion.

The difficulty with the mission is that people will often argue with you about whether there’s a breach in the first place. After all, a common conversation with fifty Americans will render much different responses:

  • Is racism a problem in America?
  • Is chauvinism an overpowering issue?
  • Should poverty be addressed or should we just try to motivate people to work harder?
  • Is there a God or are we on our own?
  • Are people of different lifestyles entitled to all equal rights?
  • Should we judge people by the color of their skin?
  • Should we question religions?
  • Is it possible that some people are just better than others?
  • Do the heavens have a “chosen people?”

If we cannot agree that there’s a breach, then the repairing will be considered foolish or intrusive.

What can we agree on about our pain before we seek a relief?

It is not so much that our problems are complicated–it’s more that they’re denied.

 

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