Christmas Town: Chapter 4

Sadly, there are no references to Jordan’s food issues in this chapter, though it remains my primary interest in this book.

But hey, there’s more with the unlikeable child!

And first, some good old Christian condescension: Joella presents the first memo to the church—it’s short and only states that no decisions have been made so far.  As Joella and her best friend, Claire, help the reverend fold up chairs, Joella complains about the shortness of the memo, and the good reverend asks her if she’s prayed about it.

Because nothing fails like prayer!

They finish and head out into the pretty night:

“It’s a shame everything can’t be as perfect as this night,” [Joella] said wistfully.

“Maybe it is,” Reverend Martin said.  “Maybe God’s plan for us is as perfect as this beautiful night, but we just can’t see it as clearly.”

Stuff it, Reverend.  You aren’t about to be let go from the soon-to-be-closed mill.

“I know we’re supposed to have that kind of faith.  But it sure would be easier if God could see fit to let me in on His plan.” [Joella said]

Claire rolled her eyes…

Okay, y’know what, Claire? You can suck it, too.

…but Hat Martin just chuckled.

“If it was all plain as day, Joella, they wouldn’t call it faith, now, would they?”

Guess not.  Hmmm…maybe this “faith” thing ain’t all it’s cracked up to be…

Ultimately, the reverend advises Joella to:

“Put Jordan Scoville in God’s hands, see what happens.”

Poor Jordan.

***

Poor Jordan is right now making a deal to sell off the town’s Christmas decorations, some of which are antiques, and will fetch a good price.  Venita is against this plan, but Jordan’s logic seems damn fine to me:

“When [the townspeople] realize that sale will keep them in paychecks through the end of the year, they’ll be grateful.”

“They’ll string you up.” [Venita responded]

“They’re reasonable people.”

“This is Christmas Town, U.S.A.  Trust me, Jordie, there’s nothing reasonable about it.”

Holy crap, I guess not.

Paycheck…Christmas lights…paycheck…Christmas light…wow, what a hard decision!

Unfortunately, Nathan, who I guess is everywhere all the time, has overheard this decision.

“You are the Grinch!”

Oh, good grief.  I don’t envy Jordan as he tries to talk down this precocious bratty kid.

“My mom’s not gonna like this.”

Bet she’d like it a lot less not to get paid through December.

Jordan manages to get through to the kid by a two-pronged strategy: appeal to the business principle that it’s actually better to give people paychecks than to festoon the town with Christmas lights (go figure) and offer Nathan a gopher job.

(Please note: Nathan all but demands the job from Jordan: Jordan asks the kid not to spill the beans yet about the Christmas lights, to let Jordan do it himself, and the kid’s response is, literally, “What’s in it for me?”  Nice kid.  How Christian of him.)

Venita counsels Jordan on making Joella his friend, not his enemy, and Jordan sees the wisdom in this, while acknowledging (to himself) his attraction and his respect for Joella.

Dammit, Christmas novels, why do you always make the heroes so much cooler than the heroines???

Anyway, he seeks out Joella at church, and we are told in so many words who is going to convert whom in this story:

Things spiritual didn’t seem to have much place in the real world.

I hear ya, bro.

It’s choir practice, and Joella has a solo and an awesome voice.  Jordan compliments her on it, but now it’s Joella’s turn to be Christianly condescending:

“My voice is just one of the gifts I’ve been given.”

Well, excuuuuuse Jordan, then.

Joella mildly (and I really do mean that; she doesn’t directly proselytize or anything) encourages him to pray for guidance, and Jordan thinks:

She had faith; so did he—in himself.

In Christian entertainment, this is never a good thing.

Anyway, Jordan walks Joella home, and they warm to each other and Jordan thinks about how much he likes Joella and it’s all pretty sweet.  At one point, Jordan wonders “what it would be like to kiss an open, warm woman like Joella,” but this being a Christian novel, his wondering goes no farther than mere kissing.

Sadly, the mood is broken as they walk up to Joella’s house, where cute, precocious little brat Nathan sees them out the window.

Wo!

That is not a word, dumb kid!

Nathan, btw, is not home alone.  He’s there with Claire and her two kids.  Claire, we are told, is the only other single mother in the entirety of Christmas Town (her husband was killed in a car crash), and it seems that she and Joella trade off child-watching duties, which is a really nice arrangement.

Not that Nathan cares:

Like he needed a baby-sitter.  He tried to humor them.

I do not like this kid.  I guess it’s good that Jordan does.  Poor guy.

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Posted on December 11, 2012, in Books, Christmas, Christmas Town. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Woah, wait a moment. “Hat Martin”? Seriously? Or was that a typo?

    “My voice is just one of the gifts I’ve been given.”

    That is such a porn line, I can hear the bow-chicka-bow-wow in my head as I read it in a sultry voice.

  2. ‘Cuz obviously nobody in a dying mill town ever gets divorced. (They just turn invisible to Good Christians, I guess.)

    • My theory Anyone who becomes single must either present the corpse of their spouse, or hard evidence that the spouse is the one who left despite willingness on the remaining partner’s part to be a complete human doormat in order to keep their spouse. Otherwise, you’re kicked out of town.

  3. “Put Jordan Scoville in God’s hands, see what happens.”

    Anyone here can translate Christianese to English? What is this supposed to even mean? Talk about religion to him, and see how he responds to see if he’s part of the tribe? Because what it sounds like to me is to throw him off a cliff to see if god likes him enough to save him.

    “If it was all plain as day, Joella, they wouldn’t call it faith, now, would they?”

    Now I’m a bit dissapointed that this book isn’t written by one of our regular offenders, who’s views are well known. Because while this kind of statement makes some sense if you squint when your view of god and Christianity is similar to that of Fred Clark, it’s monsterous if your view is more that of Tim LaHaye. If god is a vicious, judgemental bastard who condems billions to hell and his only act of love is that he ‘so loved the world’ that he gave humanity a way out, and if he really wants people to take that way out, you do NOT get to claim that it would be so wrong for god to give any clear evidence.

    Yeah, I get the reasoning that god might like people who really like him, not people who just suck up because they know he’s powerful (though as Chick Tracts show, that plan failed). But if god only gives millenia old hints of his will, which look exactly like a dozen other millenia old hints that say god wants something completely different, and then tortures everyone who doesn’t believe the right hints forever, you don’t get to call him good or benevolent. The Party in 1984 was more moral than that god since A: Their torture ends at some point and B: They make it very clear what you’re supposed to do and that you’ll be horribly punished if you don’t.

    • Because what it sounds like to me is to throw him off a cliff to see if god likes him enough to save him.

      My thought, too. It has a sleep with the fishes vibe to it, even if it’s not supposed to.

  4. It’s odd that Nathan chooses this moment to reference the Grinch, because isn’t that the story whose whole point is that Christmas decorations don’t fucking matter?

    • First the grinch steals the decorations. Then the whovilles have christmas anyway. I’d say this is forshadowing for some whovillian get together among the townspeople despite the lack of lights.

  5. I can buy that Nathan keeps saying ‘Wo!’. I cannot buy that this same kid wrote that complicated letter from last post.

    Though I suppose his demands in that letter for bare essentials like computers and tickets to shows is consistent with his “What’s in it for me?” ploy here.

    • He’s a very, very self-absorbed child. I suppose all children are self-absorbed to a certain degree; they just haven’t matured yet, but I think by the age of five or six most kids are starting to get the picture that the world doesn’t actually revolve around them at all times.

      Also, I haven’t started the next chapter yet, but I have a sneaking suspicion that even though Nathan already has “something in it for him,” he will still find a way to fuck up Jordan’s very sensible request.

  6. “Wo!” is, according to my Scrabble dictionary, actually a word. It’s an archaic spelling of “woe.” Not what young Nathan was trying for, I think.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 14th 2012 « The Slacktiverse

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