Christmas Town: Chapter Eleven
Well, I knew that this book would, sooner or later, become more Christian than just “they all hung out at church” and “Joella prayed for the mill to be saved.”
We’re getting serious now.
Joella goes to Jordan’s home to confront him about the whole missing-retirement-account debacle (she catches him eating a frozen dinner, JORDAN’S FOOD ISSUES). You might think (as I did) that this would be the time for Jordan to come clean with Joella, to let her (and her alone) in on the shameful secret of the Uncle Billys, and why Jordan’s doing what he’s doing.
You and I would be wrong.
“You’re protecting somebody, aren’t you?” Hope stirred in her heart that he would accept this easy out she offered. Hope and dread. Would it really be any better?
WELL, YOU CLAIM TO LOVE THIS MAN. SO, YES. YES, IT BLOODY WELL WOULD BE BETTER.
“Don’t, Joella. I’m…I’m responsible. I know how that makes me look, I know what you must think. But trust me. Just this once.”
Oh, Jordan. You disappoint me just now. Open up to her, if you claim to love her.
“I’ve trusted you all this time.”
Bullshit, Joella. You didn’t trust Jordan for shit when you took him on your little guilt-trip tour through town, conveniently avoiding the many townsfolk who hate him.
She might be dreaming, she knew. Might be setting herself up to be played for a fool. But even Jordan Scoville deserved a chance to redeem himself.
Yeah, I guess even the man you proclaim to love, even the man who’s been so good to your brat son, even the man who dared be born into the wrong family, deserves that chance. You self-righteous snot.
So, she makes a VERY Christian-novel demand:
“I’ll give you more time [before I tell anyone else],” she said. “On one condition.”
“I want you to pray.”
“Joella, I can’t pray. I don’t know how. And no God in His right mind would listen if I did.”
Well, I see Jordan’s dialed it back from “Your God isn’t going to change my mind.”
“Just ask for God’s will to be done. That’s all you have to pray for.”
Yep, because that’s a prayer that “works” whether it works or not.
Hmmm, maybe Joella has as much faith in prayer as I do, after all.
She leaves, and Jordan goes through his Dark Night of the Soul (TM). He ends up praying, though he’s thinking far more of Joella than of God, both before and during the actual prayer:
“Okay, this is for Joella’s God. Work things out, how about it?”
PRAYER AWARD OF EXCELLENCE AND AWESOMENESS FOR YOU, JORDAN SCOVILLE
So, he starts praying every day, because a promise is a promise. And every day, it gets a little bit easier, because that’s how habits work. And he takes Joella and the brat to buy a Christmas tree, and Jordan ends up suggesting that they buy a second, huge tree for the town, since there won’t be any lights this year.
It is super sweet, as are Jordan’s mingled feelings of guilt and pain when the whole town turns out to decorate the tree. They rope him into it, and it turns into a little party, and I guess the Ghost of Christmas Present sprinkled some of his magical whatever around, because the very people who yelled at Jordan and were all but ready to do him violence a week ago, are now holding hands and going all Whoville on him.
I expected the brat to go all Tiny Tim…
…but it’s not quite time for the heartwarming finale yet. When next Jordan gets to his office (OH YEAH, THE MILL’S CLOSING), Venita greets him with the news that the state auditor’s office will file charges unless the retirement money turns up by Christmas Eve.
And call me crazy, but I don’t think a bunch of squatters in a tobacco field, living off canned soup, will be able to help.