Christmas Town: Chapter Nine




*pant pant*

So, for days we have all been speculating: why aren’t there tourists?  Why doesn’t Bethlehem cash in on this whole Christmas Town thing?

Well, turns out they do.  Except that no one has mentioned it up to now.

People just start showing up to look at the lights, and when they see that there aren’t any, they just ask random townsfolk if there’s “some problem,” and then everyone gets sad all over again.

(My first thought was: why doesn’t Christmas Town, U.S.A. have a web presence?  Granted, this is a “Christmas Classic,” written in 1998, but still.)

But exciting news!  People have come from different states and are camping in fields and, I guess, just waiting for the lights to magically come on again.  Because there are apparently no other towns in America that have cool,Christmas light displays.

And I’m sure nobody will be surprised by this, but all the campers mean nothing good for Jordan.

There are about a dozen tents set up for families in some guy’s field.  (Um, doesn’t this guy mind?  And don’t any of these people have jobs??)

And for my loyal readers who wondered about the revenue for the town that could be obtained via tourists—doesn’t sound like it’ll be much:

[Jordan] overheard plans [of the campers] for a joint effort to prepare a community dinner of soup and fresh bread, which someone assured them could be made in skillets over a campfire.

So much for patronizing the town’s businesses, I guess.  Maybe they heard about the cold coffee and stale biscuits at the diner.

Oh and guess what…

TV crew.

The only unpleasantness [Jordan] heard came from the woman in the red suit…

Mrs. Claus???

…who finally thrust her microphone in his face and said, “Mr. Scoville, I understand you are the one responsible for stealing Christmas this year in Bethlehem, South Carolina.  Would you care to comment?”

Wow.  Wonder who’s been talking to this reporter already, eh?  Maybe some of those kind, forgiving Christian townsfolk?

Jordan tries to “no comment” his way out, but that doesn’t fly, so Joella saves the day:

“What he means is that this is a very difficult time for everyone in Bethlehem.  No one wants to see the town and the holiday tradition survive any more than the Scoville family.”

Well, we all know that rationality doesn’t stand a chance in this town, so I guess it’s all good.


Nathan watches on the news that night, and concludes from the looks on their faces that his mom and Jordan are in “mushy” love.  He doesn’t think that’s so bad…

…now that Jordan had learned how to be a good sport when Nathan wiped him off the face of the earth in a video game.

MY GAWD, but this child thinks a lot of himself.  No Christian humility here, it seems.

We also learn Nathan’s Super Sekrit Squirrel Plan, which is to earn enough money with his little gopher job to fund a trip to Charlotte to see his father.

And who knows what might happen once Andrew Ratchford realized what a totally cool kid he had.


And what a modest one, too!


Posted on December 18, 2012, in Books, Christmas, Christmas Town. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. What in…what…what…

    Error. Reboot.

    This book! These people!

    Ordinarily I’d be very sympathetic to the plight of a town suffering because their only industry is going under, but this author has actually made me dislike them. I don’t care if they lose their little hovels. They’re horrible.

  2. Campers in the middle of December? Where is this town — Florida?

    And holy shit — a Christian does an actual Christ-like act in one of these books!? I mean, yes, Joella is still showing off her room-temp IQ but hey, she actually stood up for Jordan and on public TV no less. Genuinely impressed here, a little bit.

    And Deuce . . . no. You are not even worthy of a facepalm from any Star Trek character, you are that pathetic. (My Christmas wish? The little creep does make it to his dad’s house and realizes his dad wants nothing to do with him. I would never ever wish that on a real child but for this piece of work . . . yes.)

  3. LOL at the tourists camping in a field and packing in their own food. Could they possibly try any harder to spend no money whatsoever in this town?

    I suppose it’s remotely possible the town doesn’t have any hotels, but there should at least be local cooks hawking refreshments at the campgrounds.

  4. Not completely implausible for a field outside the growing season to be turned over as a campground, though round here they’re raising winter wheat in what were the vegetable fields. But yeah, Loquat, I think someone saw the idea of “tourism dollars” and didn’t think it through.

    If Jordan were allowed to be a bit smarter, he’d say something about Christmas being in the heart, not in mere material things. Then all the fundies would spontaneously combust. Best light show ever!

  5. I actually liked the video game comment, but the one about his dad sunk my opinion again. I wouldn’t mind his self centered worldview so much, he’s a kid after all, if his characterization didn’t switch from childish to master manipulator (Joella trained him well) at a moment’s notice.

    And yeah, the tourists ariving to see the lights deciding to camp out untill they come back is silly. Did they all happen to bring their camping gear? Isn’t it really cold? Real tourists would’ve bitched a bit because no one told them not to bother this year and then leave.

    And if they camp out in their own tents and bring their own food, I don’t think they could’ve spend less money in the town if they tried.

  6. It occurs to me that the tourists camping in the field are probably meant to be sort of a combination of A) pilgrims enduring adversity for a glimpse of God’s works, and B) ordinary folks enduring adversity in hopes that God will soften the heart of a powerful asshole. But while option B would work well in a story where the boss was a Scrooge declaring holidays to be a waste of time and money, it doesn’t really fit in this story where the boss is desperately trying to minimize the damage from a disaster created by others. It’s like the author loved the image of a bunch of people camping out and cooking communal dinners while hoping for a miracle too much to think through the implications.

  7. I’ve been waiting a few chapters so far for Jordan to grow a spine already and say something like, “I’m just trying to make sure people can afford to eat through the end of the month. If a lights display is so important, people can use their own and make it a real community display instead of relying on my family for everything.”

  8. OK, here’s my new foe-fic idea, inspired indirectly by some earlier comments.
    Generations ago, one of Jordan’s ancestors found that the Christmas decorations were the only way to appease or repel (pick one) some Eldritch Abomination in the area. The family continued this tradition to keep the townsfolk safe. Unfortunately, Jordan’s mother died before she could pass the duty along, so Jordan (& the Billys) doesn’t realize how crucial these decorations are. Now that they’ve been taken down, give it a few days….


  9. Ruby, do you only read bad Christian fiction or are they all like this? It seems like most of the authors you’ve critiqued here have these set pieces in their heads (tourists waiting for a miracle, village down on its luck, beloved town benfactors!) and just plop them down together in a story without any attempt at rhyme or reason. Do these authors read their own work?

    • My uneducated guess is that when you’re working in a bubble of people who will read only a small section of all available literature, based on the publicly stated morals ofthe author and pretty much irregardless of quality, you create authors who don’t know or don’t (need to) care about writing well. As long as you put in the altar call ending and perhaps a few parting shots at non-RTCs, the sequel will sell no matter how much effort and skill you put in.

      As an old Dilbert cartoon put it
      “I hope you don’t expect me to give write a positive article about your company just because you’re treating me to drinks.”
      “No, I expect you to copy my press release and act like you wrote it. You can spend the night writing or getting drunk, but the pay is exactly the same.”

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 21st, 2012 « The Slacktiverse

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