Jubilators … November 11th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog



Sitting Ten

A Spirited Discussion

Lit was the last to light into the gathering, bouncing across the room, illuminating with a sparkle of personality and flair.

“Sorry I’m a bit late,” he beamed. “I was busy telling a joke to the North Star.”

For some reason, all of the spirits gathered found this completely hilarious–everyone but Everett Green. “Is it possible for you to arrive on time?” grumped the trunk.

“Well, to be completely truthful and on point, there is no time here, so therefore, Lit could have been early and us completely unaware,” dead-panned Kris Kringle.

Everett glared at the jolly old elf.

“I do keep time–as in rhythm,” said Christmas Carol. “And by the way, before I forget, Holly Sprig is unable to be with us today.”

“Why?” barked Everett Green.

“No need to be nasty, Everett,” replied Christmas Carol.

Kris Kringle stepped in to alleviate the tension. “Oh, she’s being a bit of a Mother Hen. Her earthly holly children are in a difficult phase–they’re just sprouting their red berries–and she gets a little fussy.”

Christmas Carol nodded in good measure.

Everett stared over at Santere, Mary and Joseph. “Why don’t they ever speak?”

“Well, technically, they do from time to time,” said Kris, “but they are the older, more experienced spirits of our troupe–over six thousand years of experience among the three.”

“I don’t understand. What’s that got to do with it?” asked Christmas Carol.

“Well, they don’t need to speak anymore. They just pass thoughts from one to another–which speeds things up,” explained Lit.

Everett Green frowned. “Wait–aren’t you older than they are? I mean, weren’t you there at the very beginning of Creation?”

“Yes. Third thing off the top of God’s head. Let there be light.”

“So why don’t you just…think your way along?” asked Everett, still sprouting a bit of leftover perturbed.

Suddenly the arena brightened. “Because I like to beam,” Lit said with a huge glow.

“Pardon me for asking, Everett, but you seem a little bit out of sorts,” observed Christmas Carol.

“Yes,” said Kris Kringle, chuckling over his own upcoming joke. “For an evergreen you seem somewhat blue.”

This caused Christmas Carol to giggle in harmony and Lit to flash and blink.

Everett Green, stung by being made fun of, tried to calm himself down and responded, “I’m fine. It’s just that I don’t exactly get it. And before you ask me what I don’t get, I’ll tell you. Almost all of it.”

Kris Kringle, still chuckling, replied, “Well therefore, maybe it would be quicker for us to discuss what you actually do understand.”

Christmas Carol just chorused with more laughter. This time she was joined by Santere, Mary and Joseph, who also seemed to be mocking the frustrated fir.

“What are they laughing at?” challenged Everett, pointing one of his branches in their direction.

“Who knows?” responded Kris. “I guess when you’ve been around for six thousand years, you have a lot of private jokes.”

“What we were laughing at,” inserted Santere, “was how you newer spirits become so impatient with how the whole process works.”

Everett, trying to regain some of his prominence, countered, “Yes, do please explain to us sprouts how this works, because I’m confused. The world is about to give up Christmas in favor of some new name and we spend a few minutes in Dream World with three kids, and then can’t really see what they’re doing, and we’re supposed to dwell in our eternal bliss of ignorance, waiting for these mortals to stumble into some sort of inspiration through their haze of dullness.”

“Yeah, that’s about it,” said Mary quietly.

“Well, there’s more to it than that,” said Joseph.

Kris Kringle moved forward, intrigued. “Tell us more about the more.

Joseph paused, turning to Mary and then Santere, who bowed out gracefully, allowing the Carpenter to spin the yarn.

“Well, I guess they’ve left it to me. Let me explain the best I can using my common-man logic and understanding. We are spirits. Therefore the spiritual is our reality. I was once a mortal. When I was a mortal, I touched things. The physical world was my reality. When people spoke to me of angels, heaven and even the Father, I tried to believe, but hidden in my soul was a gnawing doubt about whether that which could not be handled or seen could actually exist. Now that I’ve graduated to the world of spirits, the entire universe is at my disposal. The unseen becomes my daily view, and now it is very difficult for me to comprehend the physical world. Nearly as impossible as it was for my carpenter self to ever dream of one day talking to an eternal evergreen such as yourself, Mr. Everett.”

Everett Green spread his boughs, trying to understand a bit better. “So you’re saying that because we’re of the spirit world, everything vast, universal, eternal and spiritual seems real to us. And the physical world seems to be…how should I say?…”

“Elusive and unseen,” Christmas Carol trilled.

“Well said,” agreed Kris.

“I am the mistress of lyrics,” she intoned.

Santere spoke up, assisting Joseph. “Because we have had the opportunity to view the workings of the Creator over these many centuries, we have learned to discern small stirrings in the cosmos and interpret them as the real happenings on the physical world of Earth.”

Mary added her heart. “It’s just like when I was a woman, living in Nazareth. When I prayed, I would sometimes feel and sense that my words were being heard and that the answer was on the way. I had no proof, but there was this tickling in my soul that made me believe I had made a connection that was far beyond my worldly comprehension.”

“Well said!” thundered Santere.

“She may have said it well, but I’m even more confused than I was before,” complained Everett.

Suddenly, in unison, Santere, Joseph and Mary giggled.

“What are the three of you laughing about? Can you let us in on the inside joke?” Everett was not amused.

“Well, it was a private exchange,” said Santere a little nervously.

“No, really,” said Everett. “Tell me what you’re laughing at.”

Mary peered at Santere and then Santere at Joseph, who realized it was his turn to pipe up. “Well, basically, Santere thought in our direction that maybe, Everett Green…that maybe…you’re just a pine cone or two short of understanding.”

Joseph could barely finish his sentence before laughter overtook him. Santere joined him and concluded, “And Mary thought that perhaps we should be nicer … and stop needling you.”

Everett Green turned his branches away and pouted. “So this is supposed to be super-spiritual, mature humor.”

“Listen, Everett,” said Mary tenderly. “The more spiritual you become, the more childlike your perceptions.”

“So I guess that would make me the most grown-up one here,” said Everett, green with envy.

Kris Kringle intervened. “Well, I know that we are incapable of arguments–because that would be foolish and beneath us. So let me try to steer this ‘spirited discussion’ in a more helpful direction.”

All the gathered took a deep breath and exhaled, ready to move on and find better thoughts.

Kris proceeded. “Let me try to answer Brother Everett’s questions while simultaneously giving a report on our present situation. I do believe we all understand the limitations. For instance, we are welcome to influence. We are welcome to bring to remembrance. As spirits, we’re encouraged to edify. But as you well know, we are not allowed in any sense to intervene and rob the humans of their free will. If the Father wouldn’t even consider stepping in to rescue his Son when ignorance was prepared to nail him to a cross and terminate his mission, we must understand that no toleration will be granted for us to manipulate the minds of men, but rather, to use their hearts to try to enliven their sometimes-dormant spirits to be hopeful again.”

There was a hum of agreement among the spirited gathering.

“So what should we do, or perhaps I should ask, where are we in all of this?” sang Christmas Carol.

Santere spoke up. “When I was alive as a man, they called me wise. It took dying to find out how ignorant I truly was. But there were little pieces of knowledge eternal which peppered my temporal mind. Those exist today in the people we are trying to help. Let me assist those of you who are younger in the spirit to understand what is going on, and update you on the progress. We have found three children whose hearts are prepared to take a nightly dream and turn it into a vision of activity.”

“How delightful! What are the names of the little ones?” shone Lit.

Everett, still stinging, countered, “Excuse me, Lit. Are you ever depressed? Do you ever lose sight of your goal?”

Without any pause whatsoever, Lit replied, “That would be foolish. After all, everyone’s heard of being ‘lit up.’ But not ‘lit down.'”

A great laughter filled all the heavens over such a silly reply.

At length, Santere continued. “Now, as to the children. Let us know them by their first names. There is Harry, Shanisse and Golda–three very different children of God, who have just enough connection with the supernatural that they’re able to believe that it can be translated into their natural planning.”

Everett Green again spoke up, hoping to overcome his image of growler. “So explain to me, what do they know, what can they do and what can we do?”

Joseph piped up. “I’ll take the first question. What do they know? Just that they’ve been given an exciting idea in their dreams, which right now is still intact in their conscious minds because nothing has come along to steal their belief.”

“What can they do?” continued Mary. “Now there’s a good question. Many spirits have become aggravated throughout the eons of time due to rushing human beings toward some sort of completion. Here’s what they can do if they don’t lose faith: they can stall things. Get people to think better thoughts. It’s similar to when a few souls questioned slavery, and eventually slowed things down enough that others could catch up with their hidden angels and realize the truth of the universe–which is that no one is better than anyone else.”

Santere paused for a moment, allowing the beauty of Mary’s words to have the honor they deserved. “I guess it’s up to me to answer the third question. What can we do? We can do exactly what the Son taught us. In our patience we possess our spirit. Yes, we can lose our spirit by becoming impatient with the human beings that God loved so much that He gave His only Son. What we can do is continue to offer encouragement, opportunity, mercy and just a few simple signposts which will remind those who are working diligently among mortals that they are not alone. Hope is real, faith has a substance and the answers are on the way.”

Kris Kringle stepped in. “If you will allow this old Dutch toy-maker to offer a bit of advice, I was once one of the human walkers myself, and still understand their situation. We all must remember that doing good is not difficult. It just is viewed by evil as being self-righteous and by those who are starved for the good as being not enough. One piece at a time. I know some of us may feel foolish for believing that three children can affect a world of calloused grown-ups, but it will only be the faith of the young that will save the spirit of Christmas, as it took a single new-born babe to bring angels, shepherds, wise men and a star together at the same time, in the same place.”

There was a sweet silence that followed the speech of the one called Santa Claus.

“Won’t we need some sort of grown-up?” asked Everett, trying not to be cantankerous.

It was Lit who offered a final thought. “There is one. Such a precaution has been taken, and another soul who has not been tainted by the passing years has also been enlightened.”

“Who?” asked Christmas Carol.

“All in good time, my dear,” said Santere. “It is our joy as spirits, if we learn our mission, to not be in any hurry for human beings to become smarter.”


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Jubilators … November 4th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog



Sitting Nine

Park It

Fenswick Park was only two blocks from Harry Ventner’s home.

It was named in honor of George Robert Fenswick, who donated the money for the parcel of land from his fortune, derived by manufacturing rubber bands. A trust was also provided for upkeep, bi-annual improvementsand the yearly Rubber Band Half Marathon.

Harry was in a hurry. He gulped down the smoothie his mother had prepared for breakfast, begged to be excused and then ran out the door toward the park, barely hearing his mother’s final request, “Be back for lunch!”

Ever since awakening an hour earlier, he had been thinking about heading for the park to try to fulfill the dream he had had the previous night, which encompassed his thoughts.

Such a dream. It was about the North Pole, Santa Claus, his beard, and a great race. For such an endeavor, he would need to immediately begin training. After all, sometimes dreams come true. And he would have to know how to run one mile if he was going to run two.

Likewise, Shanisse Martinez arose early. So early that her mother yelled at her and told her to go back to bed. Rather than complying, Shanisse grabbed two of her favorite board games, meticulously counted the pieces to make sure everything was in proper order, and then sat in a big, leather chair near her desk, staring up at the ceiling fan, waiting for the time she could finally leave her room and head off to find the location for her board game extravaganza, which would include thousands—maybe millions—of people, in pursuit of sharing grilled cheese and tomato soup with Mr. S. Claus.

This had been her last night’s dream.

Not certain exactly where to head, Shanisse took off four blocks down the road, to the largest open area she knew. Fenswick Park.

Golda Linski awakened, enlivened by a dream, sitting straight up in her bed, with the lyrics of a Broadway tune from a musical named North Pole rumbling around in her head, begging to be sung.

North, north, north

We must go

To a land filled

With ice and snow

South, south, south

Bring the toys

To all good little

Girls and boys.

East, east, east

Hop the sleigh

Fly with Santa

For just today

West, west, west

Chase the star

Never complain

About how far

She was breathless–inspired. She was compelled by a force beyond herself to write a tribute to the North Pole. Never before had she considered writing a song of her own. She was completely satisfied to sing the tunes of other musical greats, but now, suddenly, she was a composer. The subject sacred to her soul—Santa Claus, North Pole, elves, reindeer, throw in a little Star of Bethlehem and baby in a crib to satisfy the adults. Then she would step into her role as Marjorie Claus, the secret benefactor and inspiration of all things Christmas.

She quickly ate a bowl of Rice Krispies, which seemed to add a percussive background to her creative thoughts. Snap! Crackle! Pop! She was so preoccupied that her mother was concerned that she might be ill. But Ms. Linski, the aspiring poet, musical genius-in-training, and the soon-to-be toast of Broadway, was feeling quite fine.

She headed out the door as her mother told her to return by one o’clock that afternoon. Golda needed a place to focus so she could write. Where could she go? All at once she remembered that Fenswick Park had constructed a big pole in the ground, where they hoped to someday build a complete playground. Perfect. She needed a pole. It would remind her of its Northern counterpart. So off to Fenswick Park she went, loudly singing her new song, her first song—the opening song of a musical which would set the world on fire, ablaze with the good cheer of the Christmas season.

Shanisse sat down at a picnic table setting up both of her board games, trying to figure out how much space would be necessary for forty thousand of them, all over a huge stadium.

As she tried to concentrate, a little boy came running by, over and over again. Each time he flew by her position, he screeched, “Swish, swish, one, two, three… Get that beard!”

The words were so full of nonsense that Shanisse was distracted, and soon accidentally did something that had never happened before in her life. She took the shoe piece from her Monopoly game and accidentally laid it on the Sorry gameboard next to it. She was mortified. How could she have done such a thing?

“Pardon me,” she said to the Sorry board.

“I will return your shoe,” she apologized to Monopoly.

Then there he was again. “Swish, swish, one, two, three… Get that beard.”

In a fit of fury, Shanisse reached out and grabbed the little runner, bringing him to an unexpected halt. She whirled him around, looked into his flushed face and screamed, “What are you doing, crazy boy?”

Taking a moment to catch his breath, Harry replied, “I’m in training. So I must train.”

He tried to wiggle from her grasp, but Shanisse held on tightly.

“You made me put my shoe on the Sorry board.”

Harry gave her a confused squint. “Sorry…”

“It’s a board game! You know? Have you ever played one?”

“What I meant was, I’m sorry…I, uh, confused you,” he said sincerely.

“Why are you running?” asked Shanisse.

“I’m training for a race. A great race. The greatest race.” Harry was so elated to finally share with someone who might actually understand, since she was sitting at a picnic table setting up board games in the early morning light.

“What race?” inquired Shanisse.

“You haven’t heard about it because it hasn’t been thought of yet, except in my dream, where it was not just an idea, but an actual happening. But of course, dreams don’t really work out unless you can take them and make them real. Am I right?”

Harry paused. So did Shanisse.

“I had a dream, too,” she said.

“Was it about a race?” questioned Harry.

“No. It was the world’s biggest board game tournament with nearly everybody alive—at least everyone who still wants to have fun—and the prize…Well, the prize…”

Harry interrupted Shanisse.

“The prize in my race is to get three hairs from the beard of Santa Claus so I can save the reindeer from being sent to Lapland.”

Shanisse huffed. “You interrupted me. The prize in my contest is lunch at the North Pole with Santa Claus.”

“Cool,” said Harry.

Just then, another young girl walked up to them. “Do you know where that big pole is that they stuck in the ground?” she inquired.

“What big pole?” asked Shanisse.

Harry jumped in. “I think she’s talking about that tall pole out near the wooded area, where they’re going to build some sort of jungle gym or something. I don’t know the details.”

“That sounds right, ” said the girl.

“Why do you need a pole?” asked Shanisse.

“Can you keep a secret?” replied the girl.

Both Harry and Shanisse nodded their heads emphatically.

“My name is Golda—Golda Linski.”

Shanisse countered. “Oh, I almost forgot! My name is Shanisse Martinez.”

Golda continued. “Remember my name. You’re going to need to know it someday when they interview you on television about the first time you met the great playwright and composer.”

“Who?” asked Harry.

“Me! I am going to write a Broadway musical. You want to hear part of it?”

Golda didn’t wait for their consent. She launched into the words of her new song. She was right in the middle of the “west” part when Shanisse interrupted.

“How can a little girl write a musical for Broadway?”

“Yeah. Or…how can a little girl think she’s gonna put together a board game for thousands of people in this park?” sneered Harry.

“I like board games,” shared Golda.

“I like musicals,” agreed Shanisse.

“I don’t like either,” cited Harry.

“So who shouldn’t be here?” said Shanisse, with a sly smile.

“I don’t want to be here,” replied Harry. “I’m training.”

Golda turned to Shanisse. “What’s he training for?”

“He’s training for a great race to the North Pole, to…I don’t know. Why don’t you explain it to her?” Shanisse turned to Harry.

“I already explained this once,” said Harry, annoyed. “I have to race to the North Pole as quickly as I can to take three hairs out of the beard of Santa Claus and bring them back so the reindeer won’t be shipped off to Lapland.”

“Where’s Lapland?” asked Golda.

“I don’t know. It was just what the guy said in my dream,” replied Harry, shrugging.

“Hold on a second!” said Shanisse. “Let me get this straight. I had a dream. This boy had a dream…”

“My name’s Harry,” he inserted.

“Nice to meet you, Harry,” said Golda.

“Don’t interrupt my deep reasoning,” said Shanisse, scolding the pair.

“Yes, mother,” said Golda sarcastically.

“Where was I?” mused Shanisse. “Oh, yes. I had a dream. Harry had a dream. And you had a dream.”

“Golda Linski. I told you to remember the name. You can probably sell an interview to the Daily Post.”

“Right,” said Shanisse, deep in thought.

“Well, I already told you I had a dream—about writing a Broadway musical,” added Golda.

Harry scratched his head. “So I don’t get it. What’s the point?”

Shanisse looked at the pair in front of her. “Well, I may be the youngest of the three of us…”

Harry interrupted. “I’m eleven.”

“Well, I’m twelve,” said Golda with some gusto.

“As I said,” continued Shanisse. “I am the youngest of the three of us—ten and-a-half but darned close to eleven—but I’m putting it all together. We all three had dreams. Last night?”

She paused for a response. Harry and Golda nodded in agreement.

Shanisse continued with great authority. “We all three had dreams. They all had something to do with Santa Claus. And look at us. We’ve all ended up here at the same park on the same morning, having never met each other before in our entire lives.”

“So? What’s your point?” Harry said, bewildered.

“My point it that Dream World is trying to bring us together!” said Shanisse.

“Is there such a thing as Dream World?” asked Golda.

“I don’t know. You come up with a name for it,” countered Shanisse.

“I will admit it’s a little freaky, but it’s like my Uncle Jackson once said. ‘One person’s miracle is another person’s lucky penny.'” Harry stood back proudly with his proclamation.

The two girls paused and then turned to Harry and wailed in unison, “What?”

“What I mean,” explained Harry, “is that maybe it was just one of those things.”

“Or…maybe it’s a thing that only has one,” said Shanisse.

“Oooh, that’s deep,” admired Golda.

“Deep in stinky-poo dumb,” said Harry as he turned away from them and walked over to the bench to look at the game boards.

“Stay away from there!” said Shanisse sharply.

“Why?” demanded Harry. “You said there was gonna be a whole bunch of people playing these games.”

“But not yet,” objected Shanisse. “I’m still thinking through the thoughts.”

“I know what you mean,” said Golda. “Words keep popping into my mind but they just don’t want to glue together to bloom my second song.”

“Are you two joining together to pick on me?” questioned Harry.

“No,” said Shanisse. “Don’t be such a…boy.”

Suddenly Golda sat down on the ground, put her elbows on her knees and both of her hands under her chin, as if deep in thought. Harry and Shanisse stared at her for a moment and then joined her in the seated position. Golda just hummed.

Harry turned to Shanisse and quietly said, “What do you think she’s doing?”

“Humming,” replied Shanisse.

“I know that,” said Harry. “Why do you think she’s humming?”

“I’m trying to get some music with the universe, so we can stop our arguing and see if there’s a reason why we suddenly are together,” said Golda in an other world voice.

“So you feel it, too!” said Shanisse.

“I do,” she replied simply.

“Then I do, too,” said Harry, not wanting to be left out.

They sat for a long time—at least, it seemed to be a long time in the realm of the minds of those who are too young to want any time to pass without a thrill.

Finally Golda spoke. “I think I’ve got it.” She pointed at Harry. “You had a dream about Santa Claus.”

He nodded. She pointed at Shanisse. “You had a dream about board games, but the prize was time with Santa Claus.”

“I guess so,” Shanisse responded.

“And of course, I had a dream about writing the best musical ever—which involves…” She held out her hand, waiting for them to respond.

“Singers?” offered Harry.

“No!” said Golda impatiently. “Santa Claus.”

“So…we all share Santa Claus in common?” surmised Shanisse.

“Yes, I think so,” said Golda.

Harry jumped to his feet. “This is getting spooky! All I know is that I’m supposed to train for a race!”

Shanisse also got to her feet and walked over to the table with her board games. “Well, all I know is that I’m supposed to plan this huge competition with board games.”

Golda remained seated. “Calm down. I have to write my musical, too. But you can’t miss what’s happening now by thinking about what may happen next.”

Harry was about to run off, but instead put his hands on his hips and replied, “So what’s going on here?”

“I don’t know,” said Shanisse. “Remember? I’m only ten.”

“So now you choose to act like the baby,” replied Golda.

“I know this is going to sound weird,” said Harry slowly. “But for the first time in my life, it might be nice to have a grown-up here to help us figure this out.”


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Cracked 5 … November 3rd, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog


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The Main Reasons for the Existence of the Month of November

A. Purging turkeys


B. Including dressing and cranberry sauce into family squabbles


C. Overwrought arguments about Christmas


D. Evidence that all leaves will not be raked


E.  Rhymes with “September” in the 30-day song


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Jubilators … October 28th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog



Sitting Seven


A parade of hope is always led by children.

Kris Kringle, Santere and Everett were nominated by the Fellowship of Spirits to be the committee to select the young souls who would be the hands and feet for representing the joy, peace and faith of Christmas. Three children leapt to the forefront for consideration:

Harry Ventner, age eleven.

Shanisse Martinez, ten and a half.

And Golda Linski, nearly twelve.

There were three considerations:

1. Know their hearts

2. Touch their spirits

3. Respect their minds.

Now, as to the matter of mortalation: a mortalation is a convergence which occurs nightly in the lives of all humans, mingling the breath of earth life with the confluence of eternal possibility. During a mortalation, God permits the Spirits of the Universe to commune with the inhabitants of Earth during the solitude of slumber. The seeds of ideas are planted, the beauty of innovation is nurtured and the words of life are sprouted.

So this was the plan the committee devised:

They would inhabit the dreams of three children with the promise of Christmas, a vision individualized for each of the young humans..

First there was Harry, who was gentle as a whisper, but with the stamina of an Olympic runner. He ran everywhere. Leaping to his feet, he ran–if only a few feet to grab a book. When given permission to play at the park, he ran and ran until fences stopped him, only to turn and run in the other direction to the next border.

His dream, or vision–would be of a race to the North Pole, to retrieve three hairs from the beard of Santa Claus, to speed home in time to save the reindeer from being retired to pastures in Lapland.

Now, Shanisse absolutely adored board games. She sat for hours enjoying them. Therefore her mortalation was to play the world’s largest game of Monopoly with thousands of other children in a crowded arena decorated with Christmas lights and candy canes. The winner of the day got to have lunch with Santa Claus at the North Pole.

And finally, there was Golda. She loved musicals. The cohesion of singing, acting, costumes and applause vibrated in her little soul. From Annie to Zorba the Greek and every Sound of Music in between, she knew melodies, lyrics and sang with the gusto of Ethel Merman.

Her dream caused her to envision writing and staring in a Broadway musical entitled, North Pole, with a chorus of elves and reindeer, starring the jolly old man himself–Kris Kringle. She, of course, would be his partner, Marjorie Claus.

Crafting the mortalation for the trio brought Kris, Santere and Everett great delight.

Tonight would be the night.

“Harry, Shanisse and Golda, close your eyes and sleep. The Spirits are awaiting. They will inspire. Then it will be up to you.”

Could three children change the world?

Perhaps. More importantly, how could this triangle of messengers find each other?

Sitting Eight

The Blind Leading the Blind

Shelley despised blind dates. She found them to also be deaf and dumb.

Her last one ended up being with a guy who sold flood insurance and thought dating girls afforded him a fresh market. So that particular evening cost Shelley four hours of boredom perusing thirty-three pictures of flood damage and eighty-eight dollars for purchasing a policy so she could finally leave the restaurant and go home.

So you see, not a fan of set-up romance.

But Timothy Barkins from her committee had a friend that he knew she would just adore–and who was willing to spend an evening with her after seeing her picture.

Shelley was not unattractive–one of those young women who knew what makeup to buy but didn’t stick around for the lesson on how to apply it, so she always used too much and ended up looking like a cross between a clown and a corpse. Most of the time, though, she just went with her own face.

Her hair was the color of brown that they use on dolls from the dollar store–lifeless and dreary. She was neither skinny nor fat, but unfortunately, slender where plumpness is appreciated and overly endowed in the region desired to be slim.

She liked men. She wasn’t picky. She was just never able to turn a date into a mate.

So she had to ask herself why she’d agreed to this situation.

Well, maybe he wasn’t blind. Maybe he will be fascinating. Maybe…he sells renters insurance. She might be interested.

She devised a plan, First, meet for coffee at the Cracked Cup. If all goes well, a movie (nothing with sex or violence.) After the movie, if still interested–dinner. Definitely seafood. Less tummy gas.

The blind date’s name was Christopher Timmons. Shelley didn’t know much about him. She did see his picture. He was perfect–not too handsome but well short of “troll.” He had dishwater blond hair and a mustache. (She did realize that the mustache could be a bad sign. Often men who wore mustaches did so because they couldn’t grow a beard but still wanted some fur on their faces to convey macho.)

Christopher flirted with chunky, with a few pounds in his face which normally meant there was some storage in the basement near the belt. Shelley didn’t care. For after all, by the time they saw each other’s storage space, they were pretty well committed to the move.

As always, Shelley was late. Chris was waiting, wiping the condensation off his glass with a napkin. Seeing her, he rose too quickly to his feet, spilling his water. They participated together in a napkin-sopping of the mess and then sat down.

Two cups of coffee were ordered. Shelley refrained from requesting her usual four Sweet ‘N Lows and three creamers, tempering it to two each. Chris went with one cream.

“So,” she began, “How do you know Timothy?”

Chris explained that they met on a retreat and had become lasting friends.

“I understand you’re his boss,” Chris cited.

“Boss? Well, that’s rather formal. After all, what’s a boss? Sounds bossy, doesn’t it?”

Mercifully, Shelley finally shut herself up. A moment of silence followed. Conversation was creeping along. At length Shelley ventured into typical questions.

“Chris, what do you do?”

“I sell insurance.”

“Oh…” Shelley was frightened.

Chris laughed. “I’m just kidding. Timothy told me about your last blind date. How it was kind of … flooded out?”

Shelley giggled—probably too much. But at least Chris had a sense of humor.

He continued. “Seriously, I am a free-lance writer ten months of the year.”

He sipped some of his coffee.

“Can you make a living at that?” questioned Shelley.

“Heavens, no,” answered Chris. “A little here, a little there.”

“So if you don’t mind me asking, how do you take a little here and end up all there?”

“I don’t. That’s why I do it ten months a year,” he replied.

“I don’t understand.”

“Ten months I write, and then two months, well…I grow my beard and become Santa Claus.” Chris ran his hand across his face, simulating the location of the overgrowth.

Shelley gasped. She tried to pretend it was a sudden cough, but it was pretty obvious she was shocked.

“You don’t like Santa Claus?” Chris probed.

Shelley gulped some coffee. “Santa Claus is fine. I’ve just never been on a date with one.”

“I’m not Santa tonight,” he smiled.

“If you don’t mind me asking, why would a grown man want to play Santa Claus?”

“Why not?” he countered.

“Well, first, there’s the kids,” Shelley stated.

“You don’t like kids?”

“Not so much in bunches,” Shelley explained. “Children are cute. But they do three things I don’t like.”

“Let me guess. Throw up,” said Chris.

“Make that four,” she cringed.

“So, tell me the three.” Chris leaned forward to listen.

“Cry, lie and pout. Sorry the last one didn’t rhyme,” shared Shelley.

Chris just peered at her. He didn’t say anything. It was a bit unnerving.

“Aren’t you going to disagree?” Shelley challenged.

“I mentioned throwing up,” said Chris.

“Yeah, you did. So you don’t disagree?” she questioned.

“Let’s see. Cry. Certainly. Especially the first time they see the Claus. Lie? Anything to stay off the ‘Naughty List.’ Of course, they better not pout…”

“Why is that?” inquired Shelley.

“I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

On the last line, Chris stood and sang—to the amusement of the coffee congregation. Sitting down to a smattering of applause, Chris giggled at Shelley’s alarmed face.

He continued. “Honestly, I’m Santa Claus because I make 30 K in November and December playing the jolly old elf.”

“You’re kidding!” Another gasp from Shelley.

“Nope. It gives me the money to be a poor writer.”

“Are you a poor writer?” asked Shelley.

Chris chuckled. “Definitely in money. Possibly in prose.”

Shelley liked him, and he seemed to be having fun with her.

“Chris, do you want to go to a movie?” Shelley asked quietly.

“Only if it has sexy violence,” said Chris without missing a beat.

Shelley could not hide her dismay—nor Chris his laughter.

“I’m kidding,” he said. “How about a movie with cartoon characters with no knives, guns or sexual parts?”

“Perfect!” agreed Shelley, jumping to her feet.

Chris dropped some cash on the table, grabbed her hand and headed for the door.

Shelley was really happy. So far, this date was not blind, deaf or dumb.Donate Button

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Jubilators … October 21st, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog



Sitting Five


Sometimes the clouds of the sky gently descend and cover us with the dew of the heavens. We call it fog.

As the day winds to a sleepy conclusion, we retire to our beds to revel in night visions free of mortal limitations. These are our dreams.

Strolling along, sensing a pending danger, we pause to reflect, later to realize that this supernatural inkling spared us immense pain. A premonition.

The spirit world, like a great cloud of witnesses, engulfs us with merciful loving care, unseen, but of great worth.

In a place which does not truly exist on any map, invisible to the naked eye, an aged man sits, suspended in time, all alone, staring into a snow globe, the circumference of an elephant’s head, viewing the dilemma of a young woman squeezed by a fretful situation, hard pressed to please her superiors, yet trying to somehow justify her endeavors from an unsettled soul.

This aged seer is a toy maker–Kris Kringle by name, Santa Claus by fame. Tears come to his eyes as he ponders the turmoil of Shelley Claibourne. Her assignment? Change the name of Christmas.

He frowns. Will it lead to other unforeseen revisions? What will be required? What can be done?

Being a wise spirit, Kringle realizes that such contemplation is better ruminated with friends. So he calls a meeting–an invitation breathed through the air to spirits near and far, to come and fellowship.

Everett Green, the spirit of the forest and the Prince of the Tannenbaum.

Holly Sprig, the jolly saint of the season, green with promise and red with celebration.

Christmas Carol, the melody of a joy to the world through a silent night which commands the angels we have heard on high.

Santere, the leader of the wise few who followed a star through the darkest night to see the Babe of Promise.

Mary and Joseph, the adolescent pair who insisted that their pure love was ushering in pure peace.

And of course, Lit–the light of the world that sheds illumination on every continent, religion, culture and color.

Kris Kringle simply closed his eyes, envisioned each friend, and softly said, “It is time to gather.”

A sweet fragrance rose to his nostrils. A rush of wind. A warming in the soul. A giddy sense of well-being. Soon he was surrounded with the comrades beckoned. Opening his eyes, he looked into their childlike, expectant faces.

Everett, appropriately donned in greenery

Holly, festive and alive

Carol, completely encompassed by bouncing musical notes which burst like soap bubbles, releasing sweet tones

Santere, removing his turban and embracing Kringle for a lingering exchange of fellowship

Mary and Joseph, quiet, patient but prepared

And finally, Lit, sparkling an iridescent beam of welcome and cheer

Kris surveyed his friends and spoke slowly. “Shelly Claibourne is in turmoil.”

Some nodded. Others listened intently–all spirits present.

Kringle continued. “We have known for all time that the humans we love and cherish are losing their faith.”

“It is not their fault,” whispered Everett Green. “They spend too much time at work and too little in the forest.”

Holly Sprig spoke up. “We all know they need to feel no guilt, but failing to find the blessing of color to decorate the plainness can leave you in despair with the gray.”

“On this we agree,” intoned Kringle.

“A song is a prayer that brings melody to the heart,” sang Christmas Carol.

Santere inquired, “What is the source of Shelley’s pressure?”

“She has been asked to rename Christmas,” answered Kris.

“Why?” challenged Joseph.

“Why, indeed?” agreed Kris Kringle. “There are those who feel the holiday could be just as festive without all the traditions of meaning.”

“Without Jesus?” said Mary solemnly.

“That is part of it,” said Kringle. “But there is more. They feel that one man’s joy and salvation is another man’s condemnation.”

“There is no condemnation in the light,” said Lit.

A complete and reassuring assent was followed by a long moment of silence.

At length, Santere offered counsel. “We must do what we always do.”

The entire assembly understood. For in the midst of a mass of humanity, there are those who have greater sensitivity to the spirit world. They are free of guile. They are not possessed by deadlines. They are absent prejudice. They are curious about the “possible” which lives within the “impossible.”

They are children–or have at least honored and given permanent home to a child’s heart.

“Yes,” said Kris. “We need a champion.”

“But how?” asked Everett.

“A mortalation,” replied Joseph. “I had one in the midst of a sweet sleep one night, which told me to take Mary as my wife.”

He squeezed her hand and she nestled into his warmth.

“A good idea!” said Lit. “I will light the way.”

“I will offer the wording of wisdom,” inserted Santere.

“I, the music,” chimed Carol.

“But who?” questioned Kringle.

Silence. Thought. Contemplation.

Who is always the problem,” said Holly Sprig.

“We shall watch and pray. Pray and watch. And then watch some more,” replied Kris Kringle, the Santa Claus.

The meeting was over.

The spirits dissolved into forces of the universe, zooming in diverse directions to fulfill personal missions.

A solitary Kris Kringle peered into his snow globe.

“Who…shall it be?”

Sitting Six

Charrleen and The Jubilators

It was Dunleavy who proposed that a song might be the best way to inspire the public with a new name for Christmas.

“Yes, a tuneful transition,” he concluded.

Shelley was once again placed in charge, this time of finding a pop star who would be willing to write and record a song entitled, “Great Jubilation.”

She was provided a handsome stipend to offer to the artist, but even with the incentive of cash, many musicians were reluctant.

The most famous band in the land, The Payload, was already busy in the studio on a new album. Rhythm and blues superstar, Fairmont, wasn’t confident that it fit his image. Several other recording artists turned it down on principle, not wanting to be the “pied pipers” to lead the departure of all the rats from Christmas.

Finally, Shelley got Charrleen to agree and sign a contract. She was a rising vocalist in the adult contemporary market. Although only twenty-two years of age, she already had three number one hits to her credit. She was perfect.

Her mother was Jewish and her father, Greek Orthodox. She was also dating a black rapper. Everything covered.

Shelley explained to Charrleen that a song was needed, and the concepts that were involved. Without hesitation, the young recording star leaped into the project.

Meanwhile, an all-star band and chorus were formed from many past-blazing-stars and promising nova, and dubbed The Jubilators.

Shelley was completely shocked when three days after her meeting with Charrleen, she received a call telling her that the song was finished. Matter of fact, Charrleen sent her a copy of the lyrics to the chorus, explaining that the melody was the blending of a traditional Christmas anthem and “Old Motown.”

Shelley perused the words:

Great Jubilation

A tune of celebration

We lift our voice

Knowing it’s our choice

Young and free

With love, you see

The name we sing

The song we bring

Love to one another

Sisters and brothers

Our generation

Our revelation

Great jubilation

Shelley absolutely loved it–partly because it was so easy to understand, but mostly because it was done and she didn’t have to worry about it anymore.

Two weeks later, Charrleen and The Jubilators went into the studio and within a month, the song was pressed, ready to go and being aired on the rotation.

A slow start. Then, some TV promotion, and suddenly sales soared. People really liked the song. They seemed to be accepting the name, Great Jubilation.

Some religious groups objected, but they were quickly portrayed as outsiders, old fogeys and behind the times.

Even the four members of the committee agreed. Charmaine thought it was a catchy tune. Lisa admitted that it was the least offensive of offensive ideas. Mike surprised everyone by saying that the church kids were already singing it. And Timothy added his two cents by saying, Charrleen is hot.”

Great Jubilation was growing in popularity. Christmas was already beginning to sound a little old-fashioned.


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Jubilators … October 14th 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog



Sitting Three

The Report


Shelley had read an article that catering a business meeting with delicacies was a great motivator and conversation-ignitor. What to provide? She considered her options:

Mike Caruthers was a southern boy, barbecued and sizzled. Deep fried with a side of hash browns.

Lisa Lampoy was a vegetarian who periodically consumed exotic seafood if there was some plum sauce available for dipping.

Then there was Charmaine Thompson. She liked almost anything that wasn’t fried, soul food, chicken or any other grub that stereotyped her as a black woman.

Timothy Barkins scarfed sweets.

So with all that in mind, Shelley catered shrimp cocktails, baked kale chips, salsa, cream-filled donut holes and mozzarella sticks. (It wasn’t a compromise–just her favorites. She figured that someone might as well be happy with the menu.)

The two thousand word reports had been turned in from her team. She had read each one thoroughly.

Mike’s read like an edict from a prophet, forecasting doom and gloom from Dixie if Baby Jesus even had his diaper changed.

Lisa’s document was speckled with numerous details which failed to connect together to form a conclusion. Her final sentence summarized the confusion: “You’ve got to be Jewish to be this unexplainable.”

Charmaine, as it turned out, became quite anti-Kwanzaa, which made it difficult to ascertain an informative reading. She repeatedly pointed out that although she was a black woman, she had no interest Africa, confiding that she once refused Broadway tickets to The Lion King because she didn’t favor the plot or the locale.

Now, Timothy’s two thousand words were like bouncing bubbles of effervescent holiday intoxication. He was the most optimistic of the four investigators, but could only offer one example of a woman who was in favor of a name switch–and as it turned out, was because her mother had named her “Christmas.” “Christmas Jones.” (So much for the theory of a mother’s natural love…)

The reports were absent many ideas for new names for the holiday. After eliminating some of Timothy’s outlandish possibilities, it came down to four options:

Sowlstice (with the “w” for winter)

Joy Forever


Great Jubilation

So as the “investigators four” perused the catered food, bewildered, Shelley passed out paper and pencils for the discussion she hoped would ensue after the cream-filled donut holes (which became the preference of the gathered) were devoured.

She had a prepared speech but it seemed a bit too much for the casual setting. So instead, Shelley posed a question:

“In one sentence, would you please summarize your findings?”

Everyone glanced at each other, curious about who should start. After an awkward moment (made even more bizarre when Shelley spilled her coffee on top of the baked kale chips) Mike spoke up.

“People hate the idea.”

Charmaine and Timothy nodded in agreement, so Shelley probed Lisa for her opinion. “Well, Lisa, what do you think of that?”

Lisa frowned. “Jews don’t hate. It demands commitment.”

For some reason, there was a universal, affirming nod from all four–everyone but Shelley. She sighed and continued. “Let’s get to the names.”

Lisa liked Sowlstice–her concoction, placing the “w” in the middle, to focus on winter.

Mike: Joy Forever. His invention.

Charmaine? Unitree. You guessed it. Her thought-child.

And Timothy, Great Jubilation, although he was a bit surprised that his acronym of S. E. R. J. A. H. (Santa, Elf, Reindeer, Jesus, Africa and Hanukkah) had not made the cut.

Voting seemed futile. Debate would be comical and clumsy. Shelley needed to make an executive decision.

“I favor,” she began, peering at the list before her. “Well…Sowlstice or Great Jubilation.”

She blurted it breathlessly, as if she had just finished a lengthy race.

“I prefer Christmas,” spat Mike with his arms folded across his chest, as all the patriarchs, disciples and priests of history mumbled their approval from the celestial realms. The others concurred.

“Well, we need something,” surmised Shelley. “I’m stickin’ with it.”

The rest of the meeting was spent planning the division of activities and duties leading up to the Big-Wig convention. Also mingled in were growling objections to kale chips, shrimp and salsa.

Shelley looked around the room, feeling a sudden rush of doom and gloom, as Timothy blithely popped the last donut hole into his mouth.

Sitting Four

Flipping the Big-Wig

Shelley knew she was in trouble when she arrived at the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel and the food on the banquet table included shrimp and kale chips. She was early.

She liked arriving first. Time to think. In this case, quality time to worry. Very soon she would be presenting her findings before the two big bosses, seven executive vice presidents, fourteen core managers and one hundred and twelve stockholders.

One hundred thirty-five people in all. Two hundred and seventy eyes on her, with one common demand: “You better make it good, girl.”

What was she going to say? She wasn’t quite sure because she wasn’t positive what she was looking for in the first place.

Her heart wasn’t in it. Although she was not a religious person, she did like Christmas–the season, the traditions and even the name. Especially when you added a “Merry” to it. Shelley thought “Merry” brightened up anything. (Except, she supposed, an operation. “Merry Amputation” does not take away the sting.)

Yet her mission was to provide a new promotable name for Christmas and suggest ways to advertise it. With this in mind, she added a third possibility to Sowlstice and Great Jubilation–of her own making. Not that she had come up with anything better. She just believed that three options sounded more corporate.

Her possibility was Winterfest. It wasn’t ingenious–barely passable. Yet, if they ended up liking it, she would claim complete credit. If not, she would insist that it was the winner of a contest of fifth graders who were asked to join into the renaming process for fun and prizes.

It seemed like she had everything covered.

People were beginning to trickle in slowly. Three members of her committee of four came sheepishly through the doors. They cautiously explained to her that Mike was refusing to participate due to religious objections and was at his home, fasting in protest.

Shelley sniffed disaster in the air–the mixture of an overheated room, shrimp which had set out too long, and perspiration odor emanating from her armpits.

It stunk. Yeah. That summed it up. While she was contemplating her business suicide, the room suddenly was completely full and ready to go.

It was time. After some opening remarks from Mr. Dunleavy, he turned, with extended hand, and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you our spearhead, Shelley Claibourne.”

Mr. Dunleavy turned to her and said, “The floor is yours.”

Shelley didn’t want the floor unless she could use it for passing out. Yet this was her job. Doggone it, her future. She began.

“Christmas means different things to different people. Even to some, it means nothing. Therefore, is there a way to give it more of a universal interpretation?”

She paused. They were very still, staring at her. There was the obligatory coughing spree from the back row, giving her a much-appreciated delay. At length, she continued.

“I had four of my cohorts investigate all the possibilities. I want to ask them to sum up their discoveries. There are only three here. The other one. well … is home. Can’t hold anything down on his stomach. Anyway, let me start with Timothy, who was sent out to peruse and interpret the traditional market.”

Timothy leaped to his feet like he was attempting to catch a departing bus.

“Does anyone like candy canes?” he posed. About half of the room slowly raised hands.

“Me, too,” he said. He stood, smiling at the gathered, stalled.

Shelley stepped in. “Tim, tell them about your journey.”

Tim nodded. “I went to the world’s largest Christmas store. Thirty-four acres. Fifty thousand items. Do you realize, you could feed a city of six thousand people with the crops that could be grown in one season in that particular space?”

Shelley felt the need to interrupt.

“Wow. Crops and feeding. Great, Tim. Could you tell them a little more specifically about what you uncovered concerning Christmas?”

Shelley smiled at the audience, attempting to convey continuity.

Tim, on the other hand, looked puzzled. “What I uncovered…? Well, I tell you right now, Santa Claus needs to have a real beard or the kids will lose faith in his prowess.”

An ugly, agonizing pall fell over the room. Shelley turned quickly to Charmaine.

“Charmaine! Charmaine Thompson! How about you?”

Charmaine slowly rose to her feet, conveying the reluctance of a fourteen-year-old ordered to clean her room.

“Ms. Claibourne asked me to check out Kwanzaa, because…let’s see. Oh, yeah. I’M BLACK! I hated it. Don’t bother about that Kwanzaa thing unless you like Africa. Any of you white folks dig the Dark Continent?”

Fewer hands.

“Let me step in,” said Lisa with some uncharacteristic gusto.

“Thank God,” said Shelley under her breath.

“Jews are grouchy, Hanukkah’s too long, I don’t know Yiddish and a menorah has too many candles. I ain’t gonna be lighting all of those.”

Lisa sat down to a surprising smattering of applause. Shelley found herself stuck between stunned and mortified. She took a deep breath and shared.

“My suggestions for a name -lift for Christmas…”

She stood for a moment, expecting to hear some approval for her play on words. Yet the room seemed to be crickets in the midst of a vow of silence. So Shelley cleared her throat, deciding to finish quickly.

Sowlstice with a “w” in the middle. Winterfest. And Great Jubilation.”

“I like Great Jubilation!” said Mr. Markins with a spirit of real enthusiasm.

Well, that was it. After that, the one hundred and thirty-five people took over.

Shelley was relieved. Timothy was pumped that his name was selected. Charmaine pouted. Lisa tried the shrimp and then ran to the bathroom to throw up.

As Shelley quietly sat, trying to disappear into the taupe walls, decisions were being made. It was no longer a project.

It was becoming a plan.


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Jubilators … October 7th 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog



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?”


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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