Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ebenezer Christian and the Three Christmas Spirits, Chapter 4

     At this writing, Christmas is only thirteen days away. In 2002, a few weeks after Christmas, I wrote this novella as a reaction against the way Christmas has become a racket. Many of the worst offenders are professing Christians who have bought into the Christmas racket and are contributing to the world's problems by participating in that racket.
     Being busy for the church is not the same thing as being active for the Lord. We need to reconnect with the world, and we need to rethink Christmas.
     Over the coming days, I intend to post each of the fourteen chapters and addendum to Ebenezer Christian and the Three Christmas Spirits. The following is Chapter Four.  For the Table of Contents to Ebenezer Christian and the Three Christmas Spirits, click here.

Chapter Four
The Morning of Christmas Eve
     There's no need to trouble the reader with the details of how Ebenezer Christian spent his morning. It was just like the morning of any other department store Santa. For the benefit of readers who haven't been exposed to this peculiar element of Western culture, I'll give a brief description of it.
     Throughout the morning, a long line of small children stood before "Santa,” each child waiting for his turn to sit on the great man's lap and tell what he wanted for Christmas. For a fee, one of Santa's assistants took a photograph of the moment for the parents to treasure. The child might also like to see the photo.
     For each child, Santa had to act jolly and seek an opportunity to exhibit his trademark laugh, and to make the "Ho! Ho! Ho!" (That's no more or fewer than three Ho’s.) sound realistic without being loud enough to scare the child.
     Some of the smaller ones were shy about the prospects of sitting on his lap, and some were fearful enough to cry. In such cases as these, Santa did his best to calm the child enough to get him to place his posterior in the desired spot. It meant much more to the parents than it did to the child, and it meant even more to the department store. A successfully kindly Santa often spelled the difference between a sale and a waste of time.
     Being "a successfully kindly Santa" also involved convincing the each child that he—Ebenezer Christian—was the "real" Santa, and that the dozens of others on the streets and elsewhere (especially at the town's other department stores) were merely "Santa's assistants". If Santa's beard was real, snow-white, and fluffy; and if his large frame were not augmented by a pillow, this went a long way toward convincing the child and making money for the department store.
     Of course, in today's fitness-obsessed climate, people frown upon genuinely fat Santas; so, Santa must be large and still be physically fit. Ebenezer Christian maintained a burly frame by regular exercise, while he avoided the foods and exercises that would tend to make him lean.  All this is why Ebenezer Christian was able to command big bucks for his role as Santa Claus.
     (Parenthetically—which is an intriguing way to begin passage found in parentheses—the Santa Claus myth originated with a fellow called Saint Nicholas: a long-ago bishop known for his piety, good deeds and generosity. His nature was very much akin to that of the founders of the Salvation Army in the West or the Tzu-chi Foundation in Taiwan.
     (You may have a little trouble reconciling Nicholas' saintly image with that of the contemporary image of Santa Claus, whose function is to generate a fortune in sales for department stores and the major soft drink company I mentioned earlier. Don't try. Just accept that, on Ebenezer Christian's December job, a docile populace lined up to be milked of their earnings.  Most of them were card-carrying debt slaves for whom the term credit card could be defined as "the gift that keeps on taking." In keeping with the well-advertised spirit of Christmas, these efforts to separate the sheeple from their savings, recent earnings, and future earnings took place all day long and well into the first few hours of the night.)
     Even Santa Claus must take toilet breaks, and he must fill his burly frame at lunchtime. Begging the excuse that he must convey the morning's wish lists to elves who were awaiting his instructions, Ebenezer Christian rushed to the employees' restroom and changed into his street clothes.
     Anonymity would have been impossible, since there was no way he could have taken off his fluffy, white beard, which, as I've mentioned, was real. Thus, Ebenezer ordered his lunch from the employees' break room. From among the two fives and three twenties he had in his wallet, he handed a stock clerk a five for the lunch. Upon receipt of his lunch and his change, Ebenezer Christian wolfed down his lunch and left the break room to attend to two personal matters.

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