Not Long Tales … December 3rd, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4441)

17.

The Man Who Would Be…

Santa Claus.

A complicated simplification.

For he is a homebody with a flair for adventure and a generous soul with a mission to “nice up the naughty.”

A lowly toymaker with a vision for all the children of the world.

Reginald Carlson was a fan of Santa Claus. He was obsessed with the good saint from the North. It was usually the second thing he shared with any person he met, right after saying, “Fine. How are you?”

For twenty years, Reggie (as they called him at work) found his station in life in the backroom of the local post office, sorting letters that he hoped found correct destinations. But all day long, he would share, with whomever would listen, whatever he had recently learned about Father Christmas.

He studied books.

He read all the legends.

He had over two thousand pictures of Old Saint Nick in his personal possession.

For Reggie, rather than reaching an age when he ceased to believe in Santa Claus, not only continued to keep his faith in the icon but developed a hero worship—an everlasting sensation of sympathetic connection.

He wanted to be Santa Claus. There were three problems:

First, Reggie couldn’t get any skinnier if he were to fast for ten days. No, not an ounce of fat on Mr. Carlson’s frame.

He was also not bestowed with hundreds and hundreds of elfin assistants to aid him in his quest to bring a toy and joy to every girl and boy.

And finally, the traditional marshmallow-white skin envisioned for the toy-giver—well, Reggie’s was a bit more toasted.

But in the midst of one of his musings about trying to do something to become more “Clausian,” he came up with his idea:

North Poling.

It was a rather plain concept. Reggie envisioned selecting twenty small towns in his home state and finding a group of grown-ups in each locale who would become Santa Claus to their community by taking all the families in their little village who were unable to provide a solid Christmas for their children—and not only provide the toys and extras, but deliver them, wearing costumes, on Christmas Eve.

Reggie was so excited he could barely contain himself.

He shared the dream with everyone he knew, and though it seemed a bit farfetched to them, it had a bit of sparkle and nobility, which made each one promise to support and even participate.

Counting his hometown of Baskerville, Missouri, Reggie lined up twelve other communities within a hundred-mile radius and started writing letters. City councils, mayors, preachers, store owners…

He contacted charities and pursued government grants to procure the money for the yuletide venture.

Word of his efforts spread quickly, and some pictures of the first fruits of his gathering in Baskerville even went viral on the Internet.

He received an invitation from the television show, “Invest or Bust.” The program featured entrepreneurs with reasonable ideas, who presented their plans, trying to get money for their causes from the star of the show, who dubbed himself “Snarky.”

Snarky was hard to convince. He was prideful, cynical and had left many people in tears, walking away feeling foolish for having uttered their visions.

Things were going so well with North Poling and there was such a great level of intrigue that when Reggie received the invitation from “Invest or Bust,” he was reluctant to appear. But everybody circled around him, hounding him, for a whole week, until he nodded his head, called back on the phone and set a date for taping.

Meanwhile, Reggie had no illusions of grandeur. He didn’t need some billionaire from New York City to feed his hopes with cash. He kept promoting. He kept sharing. He kept believing and even started his initial planning.

By the time he headed off to tape “Invest or Bust,” there were ten communities which had agreed to be part of North Poling, with over a hundred volunteers. He was ecstatic. His faith in becoming Santa Claus was materializing right before his eyes.

So he took the trip to New York more or less as a lark. He imagined himself being the bearer of great news and receiving—well, overall, a vote of confidence.

But when the show was taped, Snarky, being particularly surly that night, attacked Reggie for his presumption, explaining that it was not only foolish and a waste of time and money, but that in a sense he was discouraging poor people from improving their situation. Reggie tried to defend himself, but Snarky kept up his attack, viciously snarling rebukes and repudiation.

At length, Reggie explained that he wasn’t looking for any money and really didn’t need Snarky’s approval. In doing so, he feared that he had come off angry and defensive.

Reggie was so disappointed with his appearance on “Invest or Bust” that he took an early flight home, only to discover that apparently the whole world had been watching.

The phone started ringing.

One after another, the small towns that had signed up for the project pulled out, stating that they lacked the money or some other lame excuse.

Snarky’s prophesy about the adventure being doomed was being fulfilled.

There seemed to be no encouragement coming in from the appearance in New York except one tailor from Los Angeles, who donated a red and white pinstripe Santa suit for Reggie to wear. When the garment arrived three days later, Reggie looked at the beautiful costume with a deep sense of futility. All that was left was Baskerville, which had shrunk to a staff of only five—to deliver toys to thirty-two households.

Then a sneaky, sinister statement began to circle through the community.

Reggie was trying to make money off the idea.

One of the volunteers asked him why he had so much money in his checking account. Reggie was shocked. How did this fellow know how much money he had bank? It was outlined to Reggie that “someone knew someone” who worked at the bank.

Reggie explained that he had no place to put the donation money that was coming in, or the few grants that had been afforded his way.

But it didn’t really matter what story he offered. The five Baskerville volunteers were really just looking for a reason to escape. They all deserted.

It was three days before Christmas, and all through the town, all the creatures were stirring, but no support was around.

Reggie was depressed. His wife and oldest son had cautiously stepped away. Oh, they still spoke their support, but whenever he brought up new ideas or asked if they would help him find more volunteers, they gently changed the subject.

The question hanging in the air all over Baskerville was:

What is Reggie going to do on Christmas Eve with what he’s begun if he has no one to help him. What will become of the money? What will happen with the toys? What will he do with the huge truck he rented for the evening?

The answer was simple: Reggie had no idea.

By five o’clock Christmas Eve afternoon, he sat alone in a rented warehouse, staring at presents which were already wrapped—with no place to go.

He was alone. Darkness was falling. The warehouse was chilly, with shadows were lingering across the walls. Reggie sat on a big box containing five bicycles—and started to cry.

After about a half an hour, weary of his own tears, he spoke aloud.

“I am not a religious man. I have nothing against God (if You’re listening). I just don’t like church—sitting for so long and ending up doing nothing. I don’t get it. I mean, if there is anything supernatural—if there is a spirit that causes Santa Claus to be real, why in the hell didn’t it show up? Is it because of me? Am I so stinky and dumb and meaningless that the idea has to wait for a better person to carry it? What did I do wrong?”

He continued. “Was it prideful for me to go to New York? Why couldn’t North Poling work? Even if it is a dumb idea, other dumb ideas work. Putting cinnamon on cereal kind of worked. I think it’s stupid, but it’s still out there. They messed up Coca Cola for a while, but people are still drinking Coke. And even when we have really bad politicians, no one gives up on the government. What happened?”

All at once Reggie raised his voice with a mighty thunder. “What in the hell happened?”

He heard a sound behind him and whirled around.

Standing there was Kathy Gillespie. She was one of the teenagers from the high school—a cheerleader. Reggie knew her because the school often sent her down to the post office to pick up specific packages that the principal wanted as soon as possible.

There she was, standing in the darkened room, frightened and shivering. Reggie foolishly stepped toward her. She jerked back, terrified. “I’m sorry,” she said sheepishly. “I didn’t know you were crazy.”

She burst into tears, turned on her heel and ran out of the warehouse. Reggie thought about chasing her but the image of a grown man tracking down a teenage girl in the night didn’t seem very promising. So instead, the middle-aged post office laborer loaded a few things into the truck, not certain what he would do once everything was in place. All he knew was that he needed to make a go of it.

And if he couldn’t finish it, he still needed to begin.

The truck was nearly loaded. He stepped out and walked down the ramp, and there before him was Kathy again—but this time, she had brought seven teenage boys and five teenage girls with her. Standing alongside them were what appeared to be six younger brothers and three little sisters.

Reggie didn’t know whether to defend his angry speech to Kathy or to simply allow her to share why she had returned. Was she going to try to get him in trouble? Had she brought friends to make fun of him?

Kathy, sensing his nervousness, spoke up. “I’m sorry I bothered you the first time,” she said sweetly. “I ran away because—well, because you seemed kinda nuts.”

One of the boys laughed but then covered his mouth. Reggie was about ready to speak when the girl continued. “The reason we came was that all of us here—felt that you got treated, well…you got treated…”

The biggest boy of the group jumped in. “Like shit,” he said in a basal tone. This caused everybody to laugh. Reggie even chuckled through his depression.

“Well, anyway,” said Kathy, “we thought it was terrible. I mean, all you wanted was to be Santa Claus to a bunch of kids who need one. If we’re gonna wait for answers to fly out of the sky, then a lot of people are going to go without.”

Reggie’s eyes filled with tears. He was sensing that something beautiful was about to happen. He needed to just be still.

Kathy, who apparently had been assigned as a spokesperson, went on. “Well, anyway, there’s only…”

She looked around at the gathered friends. “…about a dozen of us. Maybe more. But we’ve come out—by the way, with our parents’ permission…”

More laughter.

Kathy cleared her throat. “We’ve come out to help you deliver all the stuff in your truck.”

Reggie was beside himself with joy.

It wasn’t the army of toy givers he had envisioned.

It wasn’t the march of twelve communities in unison, providing for the needs of the less fortunate.

It was not the triumph of his childhood dream to become Santa Claus.

But it was something. It was something good.

Maybe the towns should have done better. Maybe Snarky could have been kinder. Maybe…

But this Christmas, it would be the children doing the leading.

It would be those who were young caring for their young friends who didn’t have enough.

There was something heavenly about it.

It took the better part of the night. Some households were happy to see the truck arrive. Others felt put out because of the lateness of the hour.

It didn’t matter.

At exactly 4:02 A. M., they delivered the final wrapped present—this one was for the McCaultry children.

They were done.

Reggie put all his helpers, his elfin assistants, into the back of the truck and drove to a restaurant about ten miles away and treated the whole entourage to breakfast.

Stories, laughter, tears, jubilance.

The owner of the restaurant was so impressed by what this quickly-put-together committee had accomplished that he gave them their morning eats for free. Reggie was speechless.

In its simplicity, North Poling worked.

Maybe trying to do something big was the opposite of Santa Claus.

Maybe trying to get the whole world involved and failing was why we needed a Santa Claus in the first place.

When Reggie arrived back at the warehouse and parked the truck, the kids all got out, hugged, and then turned to head home.

Reggie watched them walk away. They probably always had been good kids—but now they were good kids who had done something good.

Reggie learned a lot that Christmas.

Mainly, Reggie learned that being Santa is a hard row to ho-ho-ho.

 

 

The S Word … June 11th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4073)


THE

Image result for gif of letter s

WORD


The S word that should never be spoken or written again, in my determined opinion is:

SARCASTIC

To me it is the blending of the words “sour” and “caustic”—sour meaning a terrible taste, and caustic referring to poisonous.

Sarcastic is when defeat tries to be clever.

It is disappointment, insisting it is entertaining.

And it is despair, deciding to be inviting.

I am told there are only three things that truly abide: faith, hope and love. If this is true, then any attempts to hinder the trio is nothing more than  being sarcastic.

At one time, maybe sarcasm was just satire with a bitter edge. But now it seems to have become the way we communicate—how everything in our world seems doomed to sameness or failure. Anyone who speaks against this sarcastic attitude is considered unlearned, a snowflake or maybe even a prude.

I, for one, believe that nasty deeds begin with nasty attitudes, and nasty attitudes are birthed in the soul of a discouraged hater. And discouraged haters are cloned from other malcontents who just refuse to believe that good has the power to win.

Sarcastic is a horrible condition we find ourselves in.

Sarcastic should be abandoned.

We desperately need artists, politicians, ministers and schoolteachers who will take the time to have their creativity born again, so that they can make faith believable, hope conceivable and love attainable.

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Sit Down Comedy … May 17th, 2019

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ROLY-POLY WITH JUICES

I am so roly-poly with the creative juices of exhilarated existence that I can no longer sip on the drip provided by a religious system which offers me exercises in worship, while robbing me of my strength, leaving me anemic and weak.

PLUMP WITH PURPOSE

Likewise, I am plump with purpose, and can no longer sit around with the abstract questioning of politicians who only pursue the trap and the snare rather than allowing themselves to use their position to reconfigure the world.

CHUBBY WITH MERCY

I am chubby with mercy and will not constrain myself to go on a diet of selfish, judgmental decisions against those who are created in the image of the one I say is my Father.

OBESE WITH HUMILITY

Yes, I find myself obese with the humility that chokes the heartless part of me that would pridefully believe I can follow some sort of continuing, narrowing path, and never find my steps to those in need.

ROTUND WITH CAPITAL

I am rotund with capital. Yes, money sufficient to care for my own self, and still coins and dollars left over for those the Spirit of God might bring across the pathway of my humanity.

FAT WITH ABUNDANT LIFE

I am too fat with abundant life to ever starve again on the leftovers provided by those who fear death so much that they can’t live.


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Sit Down Comedy … November 23rd, 2018

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Common comments from politicians who just happen to also be turkeys

 

1. “We must stop the useless slaughter that happens every fourth Thursday of November, killing millions of our brothers and sisters” (The Alarmist)

 

2. “The problem is the hatchet. Not everybody should be allowed to have a hatchet. If we were able to curtail the sale of hatchets, thousands of turkeys could be saved.” (Weapon Control)

 

3. “Farmer Joe’s crazy. Not every farmer in this area is crazy. We have farmers over there growing corn. It’s Farmer Joe who’s crazy. We need to isolate Farmer Joe, treat him, and if not, imprison him to protect our turkey family from a mentally deranged person such as himself.” (Promoting the Mental Health Industry)

 

4. “I know this isn’t politically correct, but I think if you check the statistics, this problem has increased as the number of brown turkeys have crossed the border of our farm and joined us. Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with them but we have noticed that many of them are raping the hens and they need to go through the correct channels if they want to be part of the ‘turkey in the straw.'” (Hidden Bigotry)

 

5. “I think it’s due to the fact that the climate is changing here on the farm, especially among the gobbles and gizzards. The weather is fowl. Anybody else notice it? It seems hotter in November and it’s more difficult to be able to distinguish the kernels of corn from the rocks in the ground because the soil is so dry. I think it makes the poultry crazy.” (Climate Change)

 

6. “It’s the liberals. They’re the ones who stopped liking red meat, and God knows, we are exceptional white meat. So of course, they want to come here and deplete our ranks. They hate us for our freedom.” (Conservative Commentators)

 

7. “I know they mean well, but the conservatives have brought down this violence upon all of us because they’re always pecking at the people who feed them, chasing away other birds, and they are just so hostile that eventually they bring about the terrorism that kills and destroys the flightless.” (Liberals Blaming Others for Violence)

As you can see, all the creatures on Earth could blame every other creature on Earth if they wanted to.

Here’s the truth: Thanksgiving is here to stay.

People will not stop eating turkey–although it might be intelligent, if you are one, to advertise ducks, and then enjoy the other 364 days of the year.

 

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Salient…July 9th, 2018

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There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

Strolling down any thoroughfare in 1975, it was highly unlikely that you would see a person dressed in a military uniform unless it was an aging hippie who was donning the garments to protest the whole concept of war.

Soldiering just wasn’t popular. It was not contemptuous, but it was contentious.

In other words, it created so much conflict because of the Vietnam War that people tried to avoid any discussion about army men, marines or sailors.

This continued for many years. Matter of fact, may I say that for most of you reading this, if you encountered a guidance counselor in high school, you were offered many choices on college, technical institutions and even mechanic schools. Then, at the tail end of such a conversation, you might have been given the option of military service.

A last resort.

“He is so screwed up he needs to go into the army.”

“Maybe the marines will straighten him out.”

The military was never considered a fast track to success and was often riddled with guys–and maybe even a gal or two–who “just never found themselves.”

It was a volunteer army for those who volunteered because volunteering for anything else seemed pointless.

These are hard, cold, historical facts, and have nothing to do with the sentiments of this author or even the lasting emotions of the American people. It was just felt that being grateful to a warrior seemed to be promoting the war.

Then there was a change–a needful one.

At first, it was politicians who wanted to pander to their more conservative base.

Then it was ministers in churches, welcoming the fighting men home to their families and friends.

Gradually, a phrase emerged from the lips of the American populace: “Support the troops.”

Then it evolved from this generic form, it has become: “We want to thank you for your service.”

It doesn’t make any difference if it’s President Trump, a game show host, a first grade class or Bernie Sanders–it is now universally executed. Whenever a person in uniform is standing before us, we must pipe up with, “Thank you for your service.”

We have learned to do it. Sometimes it doesn’t even sound sincere. It doesn’t matter. It is the respectful piece of etiquette, which has been inserted into our common, everyday lingo, to express a positive position.

So why can’t we do the same thing over race? Why can’t we start looking at the color of people’s skin, and honor them for surviving their struggles, battles and the ups and downs in being American citizens?

It might take a while–but perhaps we could start off by making eye contact with someone of a different race, and tenderly, through that gaze, communicate that we understand that their journey is more difficult than ours.

After all, we don’t give a nod to the troops because they’re changing light bulbs in the kitchen. That’s what we do. We give appreciation to them because they do and have done what we can’t or won’t do.

They serve. They survive. They use their intellect to protect our freedom.

Why can’t we do this with the black man?

“I want to thank your ancestors for their service to America, even though it has gone unnoticed and unheralded.”

To the Hispanic population:

“Thank you for your industrious nature, which continues to work despite all the criticism you receive.”

To the Native Americans:

“Thank you for allowing us to live on this land which was originally yours–and even though we stole it, you stopped fighting and decided to coexist with us.”

And to those from Asia:

“Thank you for coming to this country and bringing your energy, heart and family values, which we have incorporated into our own lifestyle.”

So here is your salient moment:

Support the troops. Yes, let us rally around those who are prepared to fight for our country.

But perhaps we could take the next two decades, applying the same principle we did to bring necessary respect to the armed services, to learn, once and for all, how to support the groups.

 

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G-Poppers … May 4th, 2018

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G-Pop wants to warn his children to avoid loud folks or strong and silent types if you really want to try to get something done. The loud are always too proud, and the quiet rarely get the courage to try it.

It has become very fashionable to brag about what we think we’re going to accomplish, calling it self-worth. But the truth is, self-worth needs the “worth” first, for the “self” to confirm. Otherwise you end up with a lot of “self” and not much “worth.”

And just because somebody doesn’t talk much, this does not mean they’re withholding information. Often they’re just withholding ignorance.

What you want to look for are curious people who ask questions. This means they’ve learned the power of mulling–considering the subject matter before leaping in with both feet or tip-toeing away in fear.

There was such a man in 1860. He was surrounded by loud people, yelling at each other over the issue of slavery. And then there was the majority of folks in the country, who did not own slaves, but was scared to death and hid in their houses, praying there would be no war.

Brother Abraham just asked questions–because he was curious. His questions made people nervous. His curiosity exposed the cattiness of the politicians of his day. And because of his questioning, he was able foster out one of the most powerful pieces of human liberation in the history of mankind.

Just because it’s popular to heat up our self-esteem or think that “silence is golden,” the true sign of wisdom is curiosity, which leads to legitimate questions.

  • Curiosity without questions is just being nosy.
  • Questions without curiosity is rebellion.

So G-Pop wants his children to know that the best profile for taking on the household of Mother Earth is to remain curious, and come up with righteous questions.

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Good News and Better News… June 26th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is a tale of two Mounts.

One is called Mount Calvary, where the Prince of Peace was crucified at the bequest of angry religionists and indecisive politicians who were bound and determined to maintain the status quo.

The other mount was a place where Jesus came face-to-face with the human race and made his case.

He talked about personal responsibility–how we are responsible for our own lives, responsible to study Mother Nature, responsible to take care of one another, responsible to curb our anger and lust and responsible to be the “light of the world” and the “salt of the Earth.”

Yet the American church is totally obsessed with Mount Calvary, spending countless hours teaching all congregants about the atoning gift of the blood of Christ and even sharing a meal of remembrance.

The other Mount–the Mount of Message, the Mount of Human Transformation–is parsed and referenced, but rarely presented as the necessary philosophy for human beings to get along.

Although we should never forget the courageous sacrifice of Jesus on Mount Calvary, we must realize that what sets Jesus apart from Buddha, Moses, Mohammed and any other religions icon, is that he taught us to use our talents, love one another and remain in good cheer instead of blaming other religions, cutting off the lifeline of our emotions, or spending countless hours pleading with the heavens.

The answer to this dilemma is easily understood by paraphrasing a comment from Jesus. He once said, you shouldn’t leave this one undone, but you should pursue the “weightier matters” of life.

Amen.

Once I understand that Jesus was so enthralled with the propagation of his message that he was willing to die for it, I can go back into those simple, practical axioms and find the way, the truth and the life.

For you see, the good news is that Jesus died for our sins.

The better news is, before he died, he taught us how to live.

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