Christmas Town: Chapter Fifteen

Happy Wintermas, all!

Well, this is it: the big finale of Christmas Town!

WILL the Uncle Billys be brought to justice?

WILL Nathan get the smack upside the head that he so richly deserves?

And, most importantly, WILL Jordan tell the entire town to kiss his ass, as he rides off into the sunset with his NFL deal, never to have to see the town of Bethlehem again?

I am doubtful about all three, but let’s find out!

Christmas Eve morning dawns, and Joella is all pissy because this will be her last Christmas in Bethlehem (*sob*) and because she turned down Jordan’s proposal (OH AND ALSO STOMPED ON HIS HEART LIKE IT WAS A COCKROACH), but she still hears…

…the still quiet voice that warned her that Jordan had some changing to do before he could do anything but bring her misery.

Boy, thought Joella, good thing that I don’t need to change at all.  Life sure is easier when I’m already perfect just the way I am! 

What is it with Christmas romance novels where the men have to change and the women just…don’t?  I’ll have to find another one for next Wintermas—this is becoming quite the tradition.

Nathan busts out of the house at the earliest moment possible for “work,” and Joella heads to work, too, but it’s only for a half-day.  This gives her the afternoon to wander around town and take in the local color…such as it is.  Everyone is just as pissy as she is.

“That’s auditors, they say, from the government,” said the clerk at the supermarket, nodding in the direction of two men in inexpensive suits and slightly shabby overcoats who were walking out of the diner.

Hey, clerk at the supermarket, maybe those dudes don’t own nice suits from John Phillips – London (I have two myself).  But maybe they don’t need them.  Maybe they don’t want them.  Maybe those auditors want more important things than that.

Did you ever think of that, clerk at the supermarket?  Yeah, just see if those auditors want to marry you now.

Ahem.  Anyway…

“They say they’re here to take the rest of the Scovilles’ money for back taxes.”

WAIT, WUT?????

image

The Uncle Billys have not paid their taxes THE HELL?

Is this to be believed?  Is this clerk right even for a second?

If so, then FRAK the Uncle Billys.

But if not, then why does this clerk believe the Uncle Billys would be capable of that, but not of losing the retirement money?

I DO NOT GET THIS TOWN AT ALL.

“My husband says they’re going to get the truth out of the Scovilles before the day is up, or know the reason why,” said the clerk in the next line.

Oh, so now people are starting to get suspicious.  Bit little, too late, I’d say.

Also, is it just me, or are they starting to hint that they’re going to visit violence upon the Scovilles?

“Oh, dear,” said a little old lady whose son worked at the mill.  “My Jerry is so angry.  You know, he’s as likely to start swinging his fist as listen to what people have to say when he gets like that.  I told him he ought to just stay home today.  But he’s that much like his father was.  A hothead.”

HOLY CRAP, THEY ARE GOING TO GET VIOLENT.

Well, that’s sure in the Christmas spirit.  You horrible, horrible people.

And also, I feel really bad for this lady.  Her husband and her son were violent, eh?  I dunno, something about her phrasing makes me suspect that she might have been on the receiving end of those fists once in awhile.

It’s the water, man.  There’s something in it.

Joella heads to Jordan’s office, primarily to get Nathan but also to warn Jordan that things might go south.  But Nathan runs out of the office and away, still on his mysterious “work” mission.

Eh, I guess it’s okay for him to run willy-nilly around the town (I’m a grown-up; I say willy-nilly!).  He is, after all, SEVEN WHOLE YEARS OLD.

Joella, to her credit, actually does warn Jordan:

“Some of the men might come by today.  They want some answers.  They’re angry.”

He nodded.  Understanding seemed to sink in.  “Don’t worry, Joella.  Nothing’s going to happen to Nathan.  I promise.”

It made her sad to realize that his promise meant nothing to her at the moment.

THERE ARE ONLY NINE PAGES LEFT IN THIS BOOK, AND SHE STILL DOESN’T TRUST HIM.

(Also, seriously, she thinks that the raging mob of townsfolk might actually visit violence upon her seven-year-old son in some sort of strange guilt by association???)

THIS TOWN: SO WEIRD

Jordan is pretty nonplussed by the situation, and continues with his mission, making a quick trip to a bank in Greenville, then heading back to town to talk to the reverend.

Because it’s Christmas Eve, so what better things would the good reverend have to do than talk to the town’s most despised resident?

Basically, Jordan wants to double-check that his plan is God’s will.  It’s actually kinda sweet, not that we get to read any of the actual conversation.

After dusk falls upon this strange, cursed town, the angry mob indeed gathers torches and pitchforks, and descends upon Jordan’s office.

BECAUSE IT’S ALL HIS FAULT

/seven-year-old logic

“They’ve locked us out,” someone said angrily.

They?  Who’s “they”?  Also, yeah, on Christmas Eve…evening, the doors of an office building are locked.  Go figure.

“They’ll have to come out sometime,” came the reply.

“A lock can’t keep us out!”

“We’ve got a right to answers!”

Then hotheaded Jerry leapt onto the front steps.  “Those windows are no match for a tire iron.  I can tell you that right now.”

Oh, so not torches and pitchforks.  Just tire irons.

Same difference.

Joella cried out, “No!”  But no one seemed to hear her.

Good things never happen to those who mess with a mob, Joella.  Be warned.

But Jordan and Nathan appear just in time to diffuse the evil mob of Good Christians on Christmas Eve (I AM NEVER GETTING OVER THIS).

Jordan has Nathan pass out gift bags to every family.

“A bankbook!” someone cried.

“And look at all those zeroes.”

If only Frankenstein’s monster had thought to give the angry mob cash prizes, maybe tragedy could have been averted!

Jordan explains it all!

“What you have is the retirement account for Scoville Mill.  Four-point-six million, I think, is what it holds.  So the future of everyone here is secure, even after we close the doors.  I believe that was your concern today, gentlemen.”

The two men in cheap suits looked at one another, frowned into the bankbook.  “Well, yes, but—”

“Then I wish you a Merry Christmas.  I think you still have time to get home for the holiday, gentlemen.”

Well, probably not, but hey, it’s nice that state auditors can be dispensed with so easily!!

Then Nathan explains it all!!  To Joella!!

Jordan sold all the land for the stadium, and used it to fund the retirement account.

And he negotiated a contract for the mill to make licensed apparel for the new NFL team.

And Jordan proposes to Joella again:

“Before you answer, you have to know, I don’t have a penny to my name.”

Well, that’s great, Jordan!  Because as we’ve learned, the amount of money a person has is inversely proportionate to his ability to be a good parent.  That’s how it works.

“I’ll be starting over.  But I have…faith…that I’ll be led to the right work.”

That work turns out to be being CEO of the mill.

Because Jordan has drunk the water, and now dreams of spending the rest of his life in the town where NOT FIVE MINUTES AGO, an angry mob was preparing to DESTROY HIS OFFICE.

Man, Jordan’s going to be sleeping with one eye open…forever.  And surely his poor, sensitive tummy will never be right.

But I guess being poor and in danger is a real turn-on for Joella, because she says yes.

His silence had been necessary to protect two old men who were dear to him.

ARE YOU SERIOUSLY FIGURING THIS OUT JUST NOW, LADY???

And I see that the Uncle Billys won’t be brought to justice.

I am disappoint.

As he swept her into his arms, another cry went up from the crowd.

“Hey!  When I said ‘look at all these zeroes,’ I meant the bankbook literally had no money in it!  The evil Scovilles are trying to cheat us again!  BURN THE WITCHES!!!”

Joella looked up in time to see a million lights go on all over town, more magical and spectacular than the lights had ever been in Christmas Town, U.S.A.

I just…how…when…who…HOWWWWWWWWW

image

I got nothing left.  I just…the world makes no sense to me right now.

Okay, okay…  *deep breath*

It looks like the squatters bought the lights.

But even if that is so…

HOW DID THEY MANAGE TO PUT UP ALL THE LIGHTS WITHOUT ANYBODY NOTICING???

I can just imagine the squatters’ Christmas glee: “Ha-HA!!  Now we can come and squat here again every year!  And from now on we’ll even bring our own canned chili so we never need to spend even seventy cents in this crummy town again!”

This book…

These Wintermas books were the first on this blog that I’ve done blind, and I did wonder if I was shooting myself in the foot.  After all, what if I liked this book?  Hell, I like Christmas.  I like romance.  I even like sappy Christmas romance.

But this really took me by surprise.  I mean, I could see where things were going with the oh-so-“cute” kid, and the “cold-hearted” businessman who needs to learn The True Meaning of Christmas from the faithful woman with a heart of gold, so all the elements were there…

But the cute kid was an obnoxious, self-centered little snot.  The cold-hearted businessman was the most kind and generous character in the whole book, by far.  And the woman of faith was manipulative, condescending, and convinced that everybody needed to grow and change…except herself.

Noella Wright, meet your soulmate, Joella Ratchford.

And my poor Jordan.  I thought we had a cool, likeable hero last year with Tom Douten, but dear, decent Jordan, a man willing to give everything to save both his clueless, brainless family and the town that was ready to destroy him…

You are a character who deserves better, Jordan Scoville.  If only you could escape this story and find a cool, non-manipulative woman who would introduce you to the joys of fresh, healthy cuisine and not care how much money your family has.

So, here’s to you, Jordan Scoville.

And to you, my loyal, lovely readers.  Thanks for a great year, and please enjoy this Christmas vid from the fine folks at Gamervision:

Happy Wintermas!

See you all next year, as we continue our journey with Michael Murphy to find Noah’s ark.

Ark

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Posted on December 25, 2012, in Books, Christmas, Christmas Town. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I’m speechless.

    None of that made any sense. He sold the land the stadium was going to be built on – which is presumably different from the original deal – but the stadium is still going up and the mill… it’s a clothing mill? … is going to make team jerseys, and he put the money from the sale into the retirement account, and is now broke… so he’s going to be managing the suddenly!clothing mill for free? What? And that’s before the magically appearing Christmas lights.

    What happened to the back taxes thing? Was that just confusion? Why was there an angry mob? What did they think they’d get out of attacking the mill or office or whatever?

    This town. This town, man. O_o

  2. Happy Wintermas.

    Sorry that you had to deal with such horrible book. I hoped it’ll turn out to be *entertainingly* bad, not *enragingly*… Maybe you’ll be luckier next time.

  3. Thanks, Ruby. I spent Christmas reading the last five chapters and your posts are awesome. I am saddened that there are people reading these books and thinking they are good. On the other hand, I used to read bodice ripper romances and they were pretty bad,too. Happy holidays, all, and thanks for the laughs.

  4. This is why we’re all better off outsourcing to slave laborers in the Philippines.

  5. If the conversation between the reverend and Jordan hasn’t been printed, that leaves me free to do it.
    “Mr. Scoville, let me get this straight. You are planning to sell your personal property for millions, and you are considering giving all of it to the pension funds of half the people in my flock and then brokering a deal that will save their employment and with it the employment of the other half of my flock that sells bread and milk to the former half. In effect, you are planning to spend all the money you legally own to help the people I know and who pay for my salary.”
    “Yes father, but I wanted to ask you if you thought it was God’s will that I do this.”
    “Well, the ways of God can often be mysterious and YES! Yes, a thousand times yes. God just wrote and eleventh commandment telling you it is his will. Sign the deal! Sign it now or I will get my hardcover King James Bible and break your fucking fingers!

    And dear me, this financial situation is clear as mud. It’s just as frustrating as the murky legality of christianity in Soon. There, atheists hated christians so they outlawed them, but they aren’t allowed to kill them, but they do it anyway, but they have to cover it up, but they do it so clumsily that it wouldn’t work if anyone seriously checked, but they keep up the charade even amongst themselves, but…. And here the situation is grim because the mill is going bankrupt, but the retirment fund is also gone, but they can sell land to the NFL, but that is somehow incompatible with running the mill, but it isn’t now, but there are also backtaxes, but there aren’t any, but… Is it too much to ask that the central conflict the protagonists needs to overcome is ever explained, rather than declaring at the end that now everything is solved?

    And the tourists somehow brought even bigger and better Christmass decorations with them? How can these tourists be so cheap and yet so generous. Any real tourists would have bitched a bit that they came all this way for nothing and left. These tourists stay for weeks, manage to learn only that the decorations are gone, don’t give a crap about any other problems, and then buy and install lights of their own. Would that even be legal?

    Have fun running the mill Jordan, just keep a getaway vehicle ready, cause this town will lynch you the next time buisness is bad and you don’t have millions worth of possesions to sell of anymore.

  6. Gaaaaaaaah.

    [sends a virtual bottle of champagne to Ruby]

  7. Alas, poor Jordan. Rest in peace, because this town is going to kill you as soon as they need a scapegoat again and you’re still conveniently outsider-y enough. If these people are supposed to be a model of Christian love and charity, then dear God, protect me from Your followers.

    Seriously, how ass-backwards is this story and writer that they managed to make

    and not care how much money your family has

    be a sympathetic statement offered to the rich guy, when narratively it’s supposed to be the poor person screwed over and abandoned for how much (or little) money they have. Jordan is a “poor little rich boy” without any sarcasm appended to the phrase thanks to the author’s horrible characterization of everyone else!

  8. I was about to snark about how hypocritical it is for multi-millionaire Tim LaHaye to write a book where the rich guy gives away all his money, but then I did some fact-checking and was reminded that LaHaye had nothing to do with this one! Christmas Town is the product of one Peggy Gilchrist.

    I guess I’d gone through the whole book believing this was another Tim LaHaye crapfest. It’s merely a Tim LaHaye-esque crapfest.

  9. Let me take a stab at the ‘why does only the man have to change in Christian romance’.

    We saw in that guidelines for Christian romances post that one party should be led to Christ by the other party. This implies that one party should already be a Christian. And as much as it goes against what RTCs supposedly believe, RTC characters are supposed to be flawless, only ever saying a bad word off-screen so they can chastise themselves for it.

    So one party doesn’t have to change. Why would that party be the woman? Well, perhaps it is because while men can suffer from a great range of sins (too proud to admit they need Jesus, greedy, violent), RTC writers can’t think of many sins for women except being too uninhibited with their naughty bits (okay, Bia Balaam is working of the entire Antichrist checklist by herself, but she’s pretty much meant to be irredeemable. And Jenkins/Paul repeatedly assures us that no man in his right mind would ever desire the ugly hag). And no RTC man is allowed to desire slutty women, slutty being defined as ‘would do more than hold hands before her father-approved marriage’. So the attraction wouldn’t be allowed to start unless the woman is perfect.

    Just my theory, but there you go.

    • It’s also possible to skate over a man’s sexual history by simply not mentioning it – as we’ve seen in this book – whereas a woman’s must be laid out (sorry) in some detail; that’s much more likely to be acceptable if she’s been explicitly following RTC rules all her life.

      Also, my guess is that the primary market for these books is RTC women – who (I suspect, in the general case) would rather picture themselves as bringing someone else to the light than being brought. The equivalent story for RTC men would involve something like the hero turning his workplace Christian.

      • While I haven’t read them, I do know that there are Christian fiction books involving both parties struggling with religion and involving women coming to (or back to) the faith. They may well be equally terrible books, I don’t know, but they are out there. Dee Henderson is the only author I can think of off the top of my head but I know there are others.

        /library clerk

        • Dee Henderson has certainly written books classified as romances, but she’s written other things too. I’m getting rather interested now…

          It seems to me that this book starts with a generic romance pattern (she falls for him, she doesn’t trust him, he saves the town, they get together) and pastes Christian elements over it; without all that stuff about learning to trust God, the plot would still work about as well as it does, which admittedly isn’t very. The other sort of book you describe seems to me as though it might be a genuinely distinct Christian fictional form, one that wouldn’t make sense if you stripped the God out, and I’m curious as to how closely it follows other (perhaps non-Christian) fictional styles.

  10. The Uncle Billys (where DID that term come from?) not getting their comeuppance probably has a lot to do with a corollary of the Faith-not-Works view that Clark noted with the last lancing of Nicolae–overarching mentality is what’s important. Jordan’s elders were genuinely trying to make the town’s funds better, so they do not deserve to be “disgraced” (as Venita put it) for their recklessness. Never mind their learning the hard way that intent does NOT guarantee success. To ones like Gilchrist, only witting, scornful villainy deserves imprisonment (or perdition).

    As to how Jordan ever classified…I think the idea is that as a businessman, he was always looking to profits foremost, when instead he should have been aiming at improving the lot of his fellows from the onset. That’s basically what he did at the close. Unlike the rich young man from the rope-through-a-needle commentary, he DID give everything he had to the poor, and followed the ways of the Christ. Perhaps the implication is that if he hadn’t been tunnel-visioned by his upbringing, he’d have been doing that sort of thing from day one, well before his elders lost their gamble?

  11. This town. This book.

    WAT.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 28th, 2012 « The Slacktiverse

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