‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL — THE REST OF THE STORY??? — PART 5

A few years ago, with my sincere apologies to Mr. Charles Dickens, I created a series of futuristic vignettes that take a look at a few of the characters of his heart-warming novel and what their lives may have been like decades beyond the words “The End” at the close of his masterpiece. Recently, I decided it would be fun to dig those stories out of my archives and dust them off. Maybe they will make this Christmas a little more fun. These tales are simply the result of my imagination being given free rein, but I offer them in the spirit of the season, hoping you’ll enjoy them. You can also find them in my Christmas anthology Stocking Full of Stories, available from Amazon.

Today is our final story, which focuses on The Spirit of Christmas Future

THE REST OF THE STORY PART 5 — THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE: CHRISTMAS PLANET

“Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. KTZY-TV is here at the 2025 Christmas Market Preview to interview The Spirit of Christmas Future and learn what’s in store this coming holiday season. Future is currently sitting atop one of the newest creations this year – the Infused Light Christmas Tree.  Christmas Future, can you hear me all right?”

“I can hear you fine, Tom. And as you explained, I am atop one of the smartest Christmas decorating ideas to come out in centuries. These gold, silver, and multi-colored trees come in several sizes. As you can see I’m sitting in the top branches of the largest size. Their primary feature is their self-infused lighting that glows gently from within and lights the entire tree evenly.”

“I see. So that cuts down the need to buy all those hard-to-handle strings of lights, then doesn’t it?”

“Exactly right, Tom. No more twisted cords to untangle; no more burned out bulbs that have to be hunted down and replaced; less time spent shopping for decorations – all those positive features will add to the ease of preparing for Christmas this year.”

“I see someone else important to Christmas has joined you down below the tree.”

“Oh, yes indeed. There’s St. Nicholas himself. We wanted him on hand to help introduce the video feed of Christmas Planet. I’ll go down and join him on the ground.”

Christmas Future sweeps from the tree branch and glides to a stop beside St. Nicholas. Before he has time to welcome the big guy, Future immediately presses his right hand to his ear to better hear the message coming into the headset he’s wearing. “Wonderful!” he says into the mouthpiece and then speaks directly to the newscaster again. “Tom, the video is ready to role. Focus your cameras on that screen behind me, and your audience will get the thrill of their lives.”

“Yes, we’re focused on the screen now.”

“All right, here it is right before the world’s eyes for the first time ever: Christmas Planet – the long-awaited masterpiece of inter-planetary travel. And the newest word in family holiday entertainment.

“As you can see, the planet itself is green, and even in the video that’s coming from a couple miles above the ground, you can see the red glow from the spectacular light show that is taking place at the main park.”

“That’s amazing!”

“Yes. As you know, Tom, NASA discovered this planet two years ago and began developing it specifically for the celebration of Christmas. Those amazing red light displays are part of the planet’s atmosphere, but it took the scientists all this time to harness those light waves and control them in order to use them in the Christmas productions planned for the visitors to the planet this year.”

“And any family from earth can travel by spaceship to Christmas Planet to celebrate the holidays, is that correct, Future?”

“Yes, Tom. NASA tells us the round trip – with tickets to all the events for two days and one night – is just about twice the cost of two full days at Disney World. And, of course, as we all know, Disney World has now been demoted to Christmas Past.”

“And when is the departure date for the first group of visitors?”

“December 10th will see the first group of families setting off in Noel I – the spacecraft specifically designed to shuttle visitors back and forth to Christmas Planet. And reservations have been coming in non-stop since last year, so anyone who wants to get in on the first year’s visits needs to be sure to go online and make the request today. According to NASA, the scheduled trips are nearly booked to capacity.”

“Well, unfortunately, we’re out of time now, but thank you, Christmas Future, for this thrilling report.”

“Thank you, Tom. And have a Merry Christmas.”

“Thank you, Future. The same to you.”

Turning his eyes back to the main camera in front of him, the announcer wraps up his newscast. “Well, folks, there you have it. Looks like Christmas has a great future ahead of it. I’m sure many of you out there want to make your own reservations, and you can contact NASA at the website showing now at the bottom of your screen. Until tomorrow evening, this is Tom Hilton wishing you good night, good news, and Merry Christmas!”    ♦

*****

Note To My Readers:  Thank you for imagining with me. I feel confident that Mr. Dickens would not begrudge me my little vignettes. In fact, I think he would probably encourage me to write even more. Charles Dickens was one of the world’s great storytellers, but he was even more. He was a man who saw far beyond the surface things of life, and he wrote most of his stories with an eye toward helping his readers to see beyond that surface as well. Exposing through his stories so many of the serious, even life-threatening social evils of his day, he literally changed a whole generation in many ways.

The one thing that stands out to me concerning A CHRISTMAS CAROL is that the story has had a powerful impact on every single generation since it was written. I don’t know of any piece of fiction that can equal it in having been told and retold and retold and retold for centuries. Even in our most modern digital society, we find at least a dozen different productions of the story — generally around Christmas time — spiffed up with currently fashionable clothing for costumes and high-tech corporate executives playing the main characters. But the truths of the story remain the same. And whether it’s a TV production, a local theatre group musical, a Hollywood spectacular, or an animated cartoon, every year brings the story around again, and it draws amazingly large audiences every time.  It’s so encouraging and exhilarating for a writer like me to know that an excellently crafted story with a strong moral theme can have such a powerful impact on our world year after year after year. It makes me want to write all the stories I can. What about you???


‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ — THE REST OF THE STORY??? — # 4

A few years ago, with my sincere apologies to Mr. Charles Dickens, I created a series of futuristic vignettes that take a look at a few of the characters of his heart-warming novel and what their lives may have been like decades beyond the words “The End” at the close of his masterpiece. Recently, I decided it would be fun to dig those stories out of my archives and dust them off. Maybe they will make this Christmas a little more fun. These tales are simply the result of my imagination being given free rein, but I offer them in the spirit of the season, hoping you’ll enjoy them. You can also find them in my Christmas anthology Stocking Full of Stories, available from Amazon.

Today’s story focuses on the Spirit of Christmas Present

THE REST OF THE STORY # 4 — THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT: LIVING IN THE HERE AND NOW

Reggie sat slumped in his chair, his right leg carelessly propped over the chair arm, gloom written all over him. He’d been this way for weeks, and hitting the bottle wasn’t helping him any. It just gave him a horrible headache the next morning. So tonight, he’d left off the booze, but he sat in a stupor anyway.

“Well, what a pretty picture you make tonight, Reginald, old boy!” The voice jolted him upright; he looked around.

“Who’s there?”

The voice took shape: on the sofa to his right, a well-tailored man gradually came into focus, lounging with his feet propped on the coffee table. “I’m generally called Spirit of Christmas Present. That’s what your Uncle Ebeneezer called me.”

“Oh, so you’re the one who supposedly helped him straighten out his life, huh?”

The figure shrugged. “Among others.”

“Well, you can go back where you came from,” Reggie said, at the same time making a shooing motion with his hand. “I don’t need anything you have to say!”

“You need a hammer to your head!” his visitor replied. “It’s just a shame I’m not allowed to give it to you.”

“Hey, where do you get off talking like that to me? Threatening to hit me in the head with a hammer! For what?”

“For constantly trying to live in a time dimension that it’s impossible for you to inhabit. You’re always trying to live either in the past – sucking on your memories the way a baby does his thumb – or in the future – always focusing on next week or next year. It’s stupid. Your memories make you miserable, and your future makes you anxious and edgy because it holds problems you don’t have answers for yet.”

“Oh, I get it. You’re here because you think you’re going to fix me?”

“No … I’m going to tell you how you can fix yourself.”

“Well, just maybe I don’t want to be fixed. What do you think about that?”

“Your uncle didn’t think he wanted to be fixed either – until he saw where his life was leading him. Do we have to give you the same kind of detailed, guided tour of your life that we gave him?”

“Who’s we?”

“You know – the Spirits of Christmas Past and Future, and yours truly.”

Reggie shivered in his chair. He would never consider admitting to this strange visitor that he believed what had happened to his old uncle, but he did have to admit to himself that he’d seen the changes in Ebeneezer first hand. And when his uncle had described his experience, it had sent cold chills down Reggie’s spine. He certainly didn’t want any more of that.

“Okay, okay. Just give me your spiel and let me get back to my contemplation.”

“What you were … contemplating … as you call it … was how sorry you are for yourself. And what I’m going to tell you will set you free from all your self-pity and wasted life if you’ll take heed to it.”

“Okay, okay, get on with it.”

“Well, it’s actually very simple, Reggie. You simply have to make yourself be where you are.”

“Huh?” Reggie shook his head briskly and sat forward in his chair, looking more intently at his visitor. “What the heck does that mean?”

His visitor sighed. “It means, Reg, that you need to live in the present hour — every hour of your life. Live now. You can’t re-do yesterdays, Reggie, and the future is nothing but a long series of ‘now’s’ that you’ll eventually experience one at a time. But when you get to them, you’ll have what it takes to deal with each of them. Trying to worry ahead of time about what might or might not be in those ‘now’s’ is ridiculous because you can’t even begin to know what they’ll be like. So why exhaust yourself worrying about them? And why drive yourself to drink by sitting around pitying yourself for the things that have already happened and can’t be changed?”

Reggie hung his head. “Yeah, I guess I have to admit my life’s a bummer coming and going.”

His visitor jumped up from the sofa, and Reggie looked up at him, a little fearful.

“Then for heaven’s sake, man, quit coming and going – hopping from your sad past to your unreadable future! Start living where you are and when you are. Take one day at a time, and one hour at a time. Look at it, feel it, taste it; let it soak into you; enjoy everything you can about it, and if you can’t enjoy it, then learn something from it. But live it. Start really living each one of those moments in your life, Reggie, and you’ll be surprised at the outcome.”

“But I don’t think I know how.”

“It isn’t rocket science, Reggie. As I said at the beginning of our conversation: it’s simple. You just have to decide to do it. And I’m not telling you everything will be the way you want it. Your life – like anyone else’s – will have its ups and downs. It may not always be great – but at least it will be real.”

Reggie hung his head again, trying to get a better handle on the fact that he was listening to some vision that had just suddenly appeared in his living room. He had to admit that what his visitor said gave him the first inkling of hope that he could actually have a better life. He looked back up to the visitor to say so — then blinked. The room was empty.    ♦

 


Tomorrow, our final story featuring The Spirit of Christmas Future

‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL — THE REST OF THE STORY??? – # 2

A few years ago, with my sincere apologies to Mr. Charles Dickens, I created a series of futuristic vignettes that take a look at a few of the characters of his heart-warming novel and what their lives may have been like decades beyond the words “The End” at the close of his masterpiece. Recently, I decided it would be fun to dig those stories out of my archives and dust them off. Maybe they will make this Christmas a little more fun. These tales are simply the result of my imagination being given free rein, but I offer them in the spirit of the season, hoping you’ll enjoy them. You can also find them in my Christmas anthology Stocking Full of Stories, available from Amazon.

Today’s story focuses on Tiny Tim.

THE REST OF THE STORY # 2: GETTING A SECOND CHANCE

“Excuse me, Mr. Alexander. You wanted to see me?”

“Oh, yes, Christmas Past. I’ve called for Present and Future as well. Oh … here they are now. Come in, gentlemen.”

“Is there a problem, sir?” Present asked.

Mr. Alexander sighed deeply. “Indeed there is! Come over to the Earthglass, gentlemen, and take a look. We’re going to listen in on a businessman’s dealings, with a poor couple.”

****The Earthglass brings a large, modern office into view.****

“Don’t blabber to me about Christmas! I told you months ago that if you didn’t have all the money by today, I would foreclose on this date.” His eyes gleamed and he rubbed his hands together in delight, envisioning the two-story mall he planned to build next year. Then he looked at them again. “And by tomorrow morning, I’ll have the three houses south of you as well.

“Please, Mr. Cratchit —”

“Silence! Enough begging. Go home and pack!”

“ But it’s Christmas Eve!”

“Christmas! Bah! Humbug!”

Christmas Past looked at Mr. Alexander. “Sir … is that ….?”

“Recognize him, Past?”

“Not … surely not Tim Cratchit!?”

“Yes.” Mr. Alexander let out another lengthy sigh. I’m afraid so, gentlemen. Tiny Tim. Although he’s about 300 pounds past tiny now. He eats only fats and sugars. Too stingy to buy decent food.”

“Is he why you’ve called us, sir?” Future asked.

“Yes,” Mr. Alexander answered, turning from the Earthglass and sitting back down at his desk. The other spirits sat in chairs across from him. “After Ebeneezer Scrooge changed his ways so dramatically, he grew very close to the Cratchit family and eventually left the business to Cratchit – who left it to Tim. But human nature being what it is, greed always manages to seep back in, and now Tim’s become another Scrooge.”

“You want us to visit him, Sir?” Present asked.

“Yes. That’s why I’ve called you.  It will take all three of you again.  But greed has become so much worse in the world this century that I have serious doubts about the success of your venture this time.”

Present leaned forward, looking his superior in the eye. “Sir, surely you don’t think Tiny Tim is beyond hope.”

With another sigh, Mr. Alexander leaned back in his chair before answering. “I honestly don’t know, Present. But we’re going to pull out all the stops to try and turn him around. I’m sending Ebeneezer ahead of you three. He’ll prepare the way just as Marley did for Scrooge himself. Tiny Tim grew to really love that old man before Ebeneezer left the earth, so if anyone can get through Tim’s hardened heart, it would be Ebeneezer.

“Beyond that, it’s all in your hands, gentlemen,” Mr. Alexander said, rising to see them out of the office. They rose as well, shook his hand in turn, and promised to give the project their highest effort.

“I have no doubt that you will,” he said, “and I certainly wish you God speed. It’s Christmas after all – the season of hope. I’ll hold onto that hope as tightly as possible while you do your work.”  ♦


Check back the next 3 days to read ‘the rest of the story’ for the spirits of past, present, and future.

‘THE PASSING’ — NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH

As we near the close of Native American Heritage Month, I decided to share a poem I wrote last year that focuses on the heartache and loss that came to so many of the American Indian tribes at the hands of greedy people and government agencies. This particular poem emphasizes the history of the Cherokee people because they are part of my personal heritage. But we want to remember that every tribe was affected negatively — even in heart-breaking ways — and unfortunately, all the prejudice and ill-treatment has not completely disappeared yet.

Original watercolor by Sandra Pavloff Conner


THE PASSING

Today the old chief passed,
Enwreathed by potent memories
Of battles fierce, of freedoms lost,
Of smoking pipe with enemies
Who swore to keep the peace treaties
But quickly spurned such promises
When greed for lands gained upper hand.
Today the old chief passed
And hastened to his ancestors,
To mountains, valleys, fertile plains,
Sparkling rivers, fields of grain,
Miles and miles of vast domain
Where Cherokee live free again,
Never again to be betrayed.
The old chief passed today.


THANKSGIVING POEMS

I sometimes like to go back and browse through my holiday writings from past years. The poems and stories I wrote 2 or 3 — or  8 oar 10 — years ago meant a lot to me and still do. So I often recycle them when those holidays roll around again. I hope you enjoy these recycled Thanksgiving poems.

`

AH, THANKSGIVING, HOW I LOVE YOU!

Ah, Thanksgiving, how I love you!
Golden crowning jewel of Fall,
Beacon of warmth and cam’raderie,
Sending glad invitation to all:

“Gather to worship; gather to visit;
Gather to focus on all that’s worthwhile;
Feast from tables resplendent with harvest;
Feast on the love in a touch and a smile.”

All the year’s labors weigh heavy upon us.
All the world’s problems seem bigger by far.
But out from that wearisome struggle you call us,
And laying it down, we run to where you are.

And whether in cottages, mansions, or churches,
Community buildings, or tables in parks,
We gather with gratitude full – overflowing;
To the Giver of blessings lift voices and hearts.

Then we return to life’s pattern awaiting.
Filled up with joy, we set off on our way,
Warmer and richer and kinder in spirit
For pausing to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

*** 


THANKSGIVING ACROSTIC

Thursdays come and go; in every month there’s four or five.
Hardly anyone’s attention they demand.
Ahh, but there’s one month when Thursday is a special day.
November’s got the situation well in hand.
Kinsmen young & old along with neighbors, best of friends,
Stop their normal labor briefly and, instead,
Gather close, declare a feast, and celebrate all day
In churches, homes, and civic halls – wherever led.
Voices glad and warm with love fill up the heart and soul,
Inviting those attending to lay burdens down.
Neath autumn’s healthy harvest, tables beckon us: so come;
Giving thanks to God, now let us gather ’round.

***


WHAT’S FOR DINNER?

I spot him there, behind the barn,
A full-plumed, regal bird.
He looks up, straight into my eyes.
I speak no single word.

It’s happened thus, in passing years —
At least for two or three:
Each mid-November I’ve set my mind;
He’s been there to greet me.

Now, lifting his head in challenge strong,
He gobbles loud and long.
I lower my gun and heave a sigh:
To kill him would be wrong!

So, wrestling with my double mind,
I trek home to my wife
To explain why, once again this year,
Ham will greet the carving knife.

***


HAVING A HAIKU DAY

I just felt like having a haiku day today. No particular subject matter. I’ve been all over the place subject-wise. So sit back and enjoy these 5 little capsules of my thoughts over the past 24 hours.

KEYS

photo courtesy of MSA-90 @ pixabay.com

Where there is a key
There is a door to open:
Adventure awaits.


SMOKY MOUNTAINS

`

The mountains call me:
“Come nestle in our bosom.
Your dreams are safe here.”


CHRISTMAS TREES

photo courtesy of Gerd Altmann @ pixabay.com

Stately sentinels:
Evergreens with glitter dressed,
Guarding Christmas joy.


FEATHERS

`

Feathers fascinate.
Fluffy soft, yet not fragile.
Plumage fit for flight.


AUTUMN

photo courtesy of Visions Seen Photography

Favorite season.
The year preparing for sleep
‘Neath blanket of leaves.





WEDNESDAY THOUGHTS CHALLENGE – ‘Better Left unsaid’

I came across a new challenge today — well, new to me. It’s hosted by Jim Adams on his WordPress site at this link.   The challenge is to write a story or poem based on the theme “Better Left Unsaid.”  So I’ve let my poet muse have sway and posted my response below.

 

BETTER LEFT UNSAID

I could have told him how I felt
About the lies he’d told behind my back.
I could have spoken out and said
That he a basic moral code did lack.
I could have talked to mutual friends,
And told them scores of ugly things of him.
And when I’d finished, they’d have said
They were inclined to believe all of them.
But once I’d had revenge on him,
What would the outcome be inside of me?
My sinking to his level so
Would mean I was as vile of heart as he.
But if I leave those thoughts unsaid,
I’ll rise above them, so I’ll remain free.


ESPRESSO CHALLENGE

Selma Martin has been giving us a weekly challenge called “Espresso,” in which she calls on us to share a “morsel of wisdom” to encourage the hearts of our readers. This week the theme on her site seemed to be about “doing the right thing,” so I decided to share a maxim born out of my own heart — and one that I try to live by in all the aspects of my life:

perfection is not a requirement in my life, but excellence is mandatory.


FREE TO ANY U. S. PASTOR — ‘THE TRUTH ABOUT ST. PAUL’S THORN’

FREE TO ANY PASTOR IN THE U. S. WHO WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A COPY.
 
My booklet that casts down and clears way all the lies concerning St. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” is now available in digital as well as paperback. And I’m offering a free copy (digital or paperback) to any pastor in the U. S. who would like to have one.
 
If you’re a pastor who wants a copy, please e-mail me at the following address and give me your mailing address or the e-mail address if you want a link for a digital copy. If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon provides a free app that works on any device you have.

 

Contact me here: radicalaboutjesus@gmail.com

 

Anyone else can purchase them from Amazon. The paperback is still at the introductory price of $4.00.
The E-Book is $1.99.

 

I’m including the description from the back cover here:
“A straightforward, easy to understand message that cuts through all the lies of traditional and denominational doctrines to reveal the truth about St. Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh.’ Shining a bright light on the scripture passages involved, Bible teacher Sandra Pavloff Conner exposes the lies that have been misrepresenting this experience in Paul’s life for centuries as she lets the Word of God interpret and explain itself.”
 

MY CADILAC FOR YOUR CAMEL – RERUN

It’s been a long time since I first shared this video, so I thought I’d give it a fresh airing, along with an invitation to visit my ministry YouTube channel if you haven’t yet done so. If you’d like to be notified each time we post a new video, just click the “Subscribe” button, and click on the little bell symbol to control the setting for your notifications. 

Now enjoy this encouraging message.

Copyright 2019 Radical About Jesus Ministries

WHAT DO YOU SEE # 121 – ‘THE CHOICE’

image courtesy of Olga Solodilova @ unsplash.com

The question for this week is “What do I see in this picture?”  Well, I have to say that I see a rejected lover here, and my response is to try to put his feelings into words in a short free verse poem. If you’d like to participate in the WDYS challenge, visit Sadje’s blog here.

*******

THE CHOICE

I dreamed
that you would love me
as I love you.

But now,
even as my flowers
caress you face,

You dream
of someone else;
you are with him.

How then
can I find healing
for my heart?

Sometimes
love causes pain
that can’t be cured.

The choice:
to love and lose
or never love

Remains
for each of us.
I choose to love.

 



ABOUT SNOW

Well, it’s snowing here in Southern Illinois, USA. We got a thorough cover of ice last night, and now the snowflakes are coming down fast and furious — sort of hurling themselves at the ground, almost as if they are trying to beat each other to the goal. I don’t like snow on the roads and walkways, but I enjoy watching it come down — and I enjoy the fresh, pristine look of everything that is covered in brand new snow. I just wish it could land on only specific areas and leave the others untouched. I’ve written a poem or two about my ambivalent feelings, and I felt like writing another one today. So I decided I’d do a post that is a combination of a few snow poems and snow pictures. The poems are mine, but I’m featuring photos from my good friend Terry Valley, who is a professional photographer in Wisconsin. I hope you enjoy them.

SNOWY CINQUAIN

Snowflakes
On a mission,
Hurling steadfastly down.
Racing each other to their goal:
Whiteout.

*******

THIS IS DREAMING WEATHER

This is dreaming weather.
Nothing much to do
Except to watch the blizzard blow
And have a snack or two.

Yes, this is dreaming weather:
A time to contemplate
And set imagination free
To wander and create.

Ah, this is dreaming weather:
While by the storm confined,
Let my heart and soul take wings
And leave this world behind.

*******

SNOWCHILD

When I was a child, I thought as a child,
And snow was a thing so delightful.
From school we were free; we got wet to the knees,
And our mom’s day was thrown all off schedule.

But now that I’m grown, I must do on my own
All the chores Mom and Dad used to dread:
Stock up food by the loads, drive on slippery roads,
Shovel snow, and repair that old sled.

Now I look with dismay at the skies leaden gray
As I trudge to the store for supplies.
De-icer and salt sell out fast with no halt.
I need new boots to tread on the ice.

The wind from the north is bitter and harsh,
But my temperature, still it is rising;
I am in a foul mood, for I see nothing good
That can come from a snowstorm arriving.

But then the flakes start, and I feel in my heart –
Watching white, fluffy, wonderful, wild
Filling all of my world with such beauty unfurled –
That in truth I am still just a child!

*******