A Bus Full of Dogs — Part Two

Every year I write a Christmas story to share with the family. This year I decided to “go Dickens” and publish it in installments. So here is part two of four parts for the second Sunday of Advent. I hope you enjoy it. 

In  Part One – Joseph wanted to sit in his big new room and toss shoes, but mom and dad were dragging him into Christmas because the grandparents were coming – and expecting a story.

The next morning, Joseph vaguely heard mom screaming. But he managed to block the sound out with his pillow. Dad startled him when he lightly touched his shoulder and whispered, “JoJo, get up.”

He had a love/hate relationship with the nickname JoJo. Dad could not part with it, but he felt obligated to act like he ought to. Besides, his much younger sister was named Johanna and now that little usurper was called JoJo. As with everything, she wore the name proudly.

“OK. I’m coming.” It was still dark. He was still basically asleep. He had stayed up in his new room where someone could stay up until who knows when. And since his alarm clock was still in a box, he did not know when.

The main reason he decided to stay up was to get the story out of the way. He took a while to find the Bible he had been gifted one Christmas, probably by Grandmother. He looked up the story in the index, which was nice to have, since he had no idea where to look. He got to Matthew and there were no angels in the sky as expected. So he Googled Christmas and got to  Wikipedia.

It took a while to get through article, since it had a bunch of blah blah about the solstice and such. A lot of it he had never heard of. But he did see why he needed Luke and not Matthew if he wanted shepherds and angels.

He sort of skimmed most of it. But one section on-down-a-ways (as Dad might say) caught his eye when he saw the word “riots.” He did not quite know who Puritans were — apparently stick-up-the-you-know-where-Christians, who took over England and banned Christmas in 1647.  Their opponents occupied a city called Canterbury and had a big in-your-face party full of banned traditions like roasting apples on a fire (oh yeah, that needed banning), card playing, and some dance with “plowboys” and “maidservants” that sounded kind of pornographic. All sorts of people were singing the old Christmas songs in secret all over the country. This made Christmas carols seem much more attractive.

So he decided to write his story about 1647 in Canterbury. He made a rather elaborate outline, so he would not forget any of his ideas. It was about a Puritan boy who is kidnapped and taken to Canterbury (he did not have a clear motive for this crime in mind, but it still seemed like a good plot point). Once there, he escapes and tries to tell people Christmas has been banned and other kids beat him up. He gets threatened by a sword (since they surely had swords) and eats a roast apple for the first time, too (his tongue might get burned since that often happened to him in similar situations). He had yet to get Jesus in there much, but he had time to think about it. The whole outline was about a page long which made him proud.

The story was, actually, the second reason he was up late. The first reason he was even awake was a text from Gabe at around 11:30. Gabe was his secret friend because there was no way Mom and Dad would ever approve of him after one look. Even Joseph was concerned the first time he sat by him on the bus. He was a bit from the dark side — usually black clothes, out of the norm hair, odd accessories, a piercing. To his surprise, in the dark of night, the unusual Gabe appeared on the rather usual Joseph’s phone to invite him to an after school party. It was not OK to go to such a party, but he said he would go. It was in Gabe’s empty house, which was also very not OK, but he said OK. He thought of Joseph in Matthew having something come upon him in the night and telling him not to be afraid. So he decided to see what it was all about and not be afraid.

Then next morning, when he went down to avoid eating breakfast and get on his way, he told his parents he got called in to work at his random after school job bussing tables. Someone was already out for the holidays. They said, “Fine.” They’d save him a plate.

Just then, one of the dogs came into the kitchen with a quarter of his story outline in her mouth. He ran upstairs but never found the other pieces. Mom screamed. “Joseph, it is time.”

Right when he got back to the kitchen, his sister came in and presented mom with her finished story. “Look, I made some pictures too,” she purred.

“That’s wonderful, JoJo,” Mom said.  JoJo looked at him and smiled.

Continued next Sunday…

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