‘Twas the Night Before: Chapters 19-20: Present Time!

Were you all on the edge of your seats waiting to find out what those mysterious three presents were?

Well, we’re about to find out!

Turns out that the three Very Special Presents from London were for Noella, Noella’s mom, and Noella’s grandma.

I guess you can go ahead and read whatever you want into the fact that Tom got Extra-Special Snowflake gifts for his fiancee and son-to-be in-laws, but not for his own parents.

Now, remember, Tom got these all at the same “exclusive shop“:

1.  A “leather-bound collection of poetry” for Old Biddy Who Tells It Like It Is (Tom wants to read some to her)

2.  A handmade metronome for Mom, who apparently is completely incapable of playing the piano without it.  (Speaking as a former amateur musician myself, this is bullshit.  I think Miriam just doesn’t want to practice.)

3.  For Noella, “an exquisitely tooled jewelry box with ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’ carved delicately in the top.”  It’s for her Forever and a Tree necklace for January to November, which admittedly is pretty sweet.

Sadly, Noella is still not happy.  (And I’m sure you’re all shocked by that fact.)

Noella missed Santa.  While she had come to her senses about him, at times like [opening presents on Christmas Eve] she wished she hadn’t.  Changing her mind hadn’t changed her heart.  The little girl in her wanted Santa as part of this Christmas.

Yanno, if this is a parable of faith, this attitude must be the Santa-equivalent of the RTC notion that religious faith is the only thing that allows people to have love and joy and peace in their lives.  RTCs are fond of the conceit that nonbelievers live lives of quiet desperation, devoid of real love and happiness.

Guess this idiotic notion is the reason Noella is incapable of being truly happy without Santa, even though she has her awesome mom and grandma and a fiance who just managed to survive a plane crash and who, incidentally, does her every bidding.

Poor Santa-missing Noella also gets a letter from her mom, explaining the whole uncle-dying-birthday-changing scheme.

(Sometimes, I feel like Jerry Jenkins wants to be Tom Clancy.  Right now, I feel like he wants to be a writer for Leverage.

Nate Ford:  Okay.  Let’s go steal a fake birthday.)

As she is reading the letter, Tom is getting home from what was no doubt an excruciating evening with his abusive, negligent father and his enabler mother.  He buys a last-minute tree and apparently there are no 24-hour drugstores in all of Chicago, as Tom cannot track down so much as a candy cane to decorate the tree, and he “wasn’t going to pop corn [for stringing] or cut paper dolls [for ornaments].”  Oh, are we too good for that kind of holiday activity, Mr. Big-Time Santa-Believing Reporter Man???

So Tom puts the naked Chriatmas tree in his living room, and meditates on ghosts of Christmas Past, particularly one Christmas when his father was on a bender and there was no money for presents, and his enabler mother told him Santa wasn’t real.

Tom pretended he had known, but the truth was he was shattered.  He traced much of his cynicism to that day.




Who do you know, EVER, who became cynical because he learned Santa wasn’t real?

I just…this is just so DUMB. 

Not to mention insulting. 


Once upon a time, a poor little boy named Tommy was born on the South Side.  His daddy was a drunk and constantly said that he hated Tommy and wished Tommy was dead.  Tommy’s mom didn’t care about Tommy as much as she cared about her drunk husband, and didn’t help Tommy when he needed it.

But Tommy was JUST FINE.

Then, one day, Tommy found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real.

Gasp!  Shock!

This shattered his sunny outlook, and Tommy stayed a cynic for the next quarter-century.


Newly-not-cynical Tom writes a letter to Santa (on Christmas Eve!) asking Santa to renew Noella’s faith in him (Santa, not Tom).


And at THAT moment, Noella finishes the letter.  She puts two and two together for the first time in her life:

1.  the results of the professor’s tests on her necklace are that it is really real platinum and engraved by a master artisan, and

2,  nobody in her family would have given her such an expensive with her REAL SECRET BIRTHDATE.

Tom and Noella hit the hay. 

Seperately, because sleeping in the same house as your fiance is just plain wrong.


Posted on December 25, 2011, in Books, Christmas, Twas the Night Before. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I solemnly swear that discovering that there was no Santa Claus has made me the grouchy, bright yellow canary bird I am today. Yes, indeed!

  2. “the results of the professor’s tests on her necklace are that it is really real platinum and engraved by a master artisan”
    Isn’t the guy supposed to be a geologist? Now suddenly he’s a metallurgist and a jewellery expert as well?? And he kindly spent Christmas in his lab analysing the thing, just because the delightful Noella asked him to???
    Also – why platinum? What’s so special about it, apart from it’s price, rarity and prestige, that Real True Believers deserve it? Oh wait, I think I’ve just answered my own question….

  3. Do Noella’s male relatives not rate presents, or are they safely dead? I’ve forgotten. (And if they are safely dead, who owns her?)

    I can confirm metronomes are basically a learning aid, not something one would ever use in a performance.

    Yeah, Life-Changing Childhood Syndrome. There’s probably a tvtropes page for it. Any female scientist, in particular, is likely to be doing that job because she lost a relative to (problem she’s researching).

    • Noella was an only child, and her father is dead. I guess Grandpa is Presumed Dead.

      And yes, re-reconfirming the metronome thing. I played for years, and only used the metronome when learning a new piece. Since Noella’s mom was a music teacher for YEARS, there is no way that she could not play without it. Not that Tom shouldn’t get her a lovely metronome, but her reason is bullshit.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Actually, that sounds more like a trope to cut down the number of extraneous characters. Understandable, but done with the usual Buck Jenkins style and smoothness.

  4. That whole “the reason for Tom’s cynicism and disbelief is related to something bad” is a common RTC perception about non-RTCs and Jesus/God. Inevitably, you will get the creepy, “Something must have hurt you for you to be mad at God like this. Whatever it is, I’ll listen.”

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Tom and Noella hit the hay.

    Separately, because sleeping in the same house as your fiance is just plain wrong.

    Can’t have anything SEXUAL that might possibly offend the Church Ladies. (Which is a major reason why Christianese fiction is so lame.)

    And it’s been stated before about “The Utterly Depraved, Totally Sexually Chaste Heathen” trope in Christianese characters. (Again, can’t offend the Church Ladies, and SEXUAL Sin is always worse than any other sin. Maybe those Church Ladies are pissed that they’re missing out, and can’t stomach anyone actually being happier than themselves.)

    As a starting-out writer myself, I know having a character keep his/her virginity takes some work to make plausible. It can be done, but these Christianese writers like Jenkins either ignore realistic/plausible backstory reasons for it or have no clue whatsoever. Only reason they sell is as a consolation prize for those RTCs forbidden to read that Heathen stuff. And stroking the Church Ladies’ egos (“Just Like You, Dear Reader”) helps.

    • HUG, given that rates of adultery and so on among Bible-Believing Christians seem to be just the same as among normal people, they can’t all be missing out… but they need to pretend they are in front of the neighbours. And given the way they’re encouraged to live in each other’s pockets, anyone might pick up and pore over someone else’s book…

    • Actually, I know two adult virgins* and one adult who’s only had sex once in his life. All three are old enough to run for president. And another adult who was in her late twenties when she had sex for the first time. I’m not sure it’s so much that one has to have a plausible reason as that one’s character ought to know that that’s atypical. Or supposed to be atypical. (I am apparently part of a very odd group of friends. And, no, religion does not factor into it.)

      The problem with Call-Me-Buck is that… oh hell, everything is wrong with Call-Me-Buck. No possible commentary or explanation for his virginity would help. Those books have only two uses – interesting essays by Fred and kindling.

      *Possibly three.

  6. Isn’t there a Chick tract were a boy who learns Santa isn’t real goes on a killing spree?

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