The Ink Well Prompt #45: Jean-Luc Dubois Saves Christmas (in September)

Fractal Autumn Christmas Tree by the author, Deeann D. Mathews
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Monsieur Jean-Luc Dubois had his whole afternoon planned out, but finding Louisa Dubois Chennault his nine-year-old granddaughter just blubbering in tears threw all that out, even before Louisa dragged him all the way into the child-prodigy version of the Twilight Zone she lived in with her equally precocious friends.

“So,” she said between sobs, “we just found out we've been doing this Christmas thing all wrong – Eleanor Ludlow [11 years old] and her brother Andrew [10] found a footnote in their grandfather's study Bible that said that the Lord was likely born in mid-September – meaning there's only a week until Christmas and nobody is ready and we've been messing this up for centuries!

“Eleanor and Andrew did some work and then called Vertran's cousins Velma [11], Milton [9], and Gracie [8], and they said we should call Capt. Hamilton's sons Orton and Edward [twins, each 11] because their dad is a police captain and so they would be able to help us investigate who is responsible for putting the Lord Jesus' birthday on the wrong day and the wrong month. It's gotta be some kind of terrible crime and cover-up – after all the Lord Jesus did on the cross, He doesn't deserve to have His birthday all messed up! It's just a sin and a shame!

Louisa's grandfather pulled her into his aged but still strong arms to calm her and give himself time to think. He had heard a lot of strange stories around holidays owing to being from Black French Louisiana and thus in the middle of so many traditions and legends, but this situation was a surprise.

Mon cheri petite fille,” he said to his dear granddaughter, “be calm. We will find a way to get this right.”

“I knew I could count on you, Grand-Père! Vertran [Stepforth, the nine-year-old who had proposed marriage to Louisa some months earlier] is setting up a conference call at 6:30pm and we need the adults to come be on it because we can't solve this situation without adult help, and we need the local business people like us to get it in gear, quick!”

“I'll be there,” he said, and Louisa kissed his cheek and started to calm down.

Monsieur Dubois was amused to see who else was on the emergency Christmas teleconference – Capt. Hamilton had just gotten home and was literally being dragged into frame by his sons Orton and Edward, billionaire and Dubois family friend Thomas Stepforth Sr. was sitting and trying to look serious by his all-too-serious grandson and conference host Vertran, Sgt. and Mrs. Vincent Trent were sitting on the sofa on either side of Velma, Milton, and Gracie Trent, and Capt. and Mrs. R.E. Ludlow were sitting with their grandchildren Eleanor and Andrew, with baby brother Lil' Robert [5] looking all too serious on his grandfather's lap.

“All right, good afternoon and thank you for coming, parents, grandparents, and friends,” Vertran said. “We all know it is dinner time, and we would not have messed with that except that this is an emergency of biblical proportions: somebody has messed up and Christmas is really only a week away.”

“And nobody is ready to buy presents!” Lil' Robert said, and started bawling all over his grandfather.

“While we give Lil' Robert a chance to calm down,” Vertran said, “that just shows the depth of the emergency and the missed opportunity. If retailers had the right information, they could avoid the December rush and the election and get their businesses in better shape now.”

“They don't even have the toys in the store yet!” Lil' Robert wailed. “They don't even have the candy canes either!”

“Lil' Robert has the situation covered from the earthly side,” Vertran said. “On the eternal side, we have been messing over the Lord's birthday for 1,700 years, and Orton and Edward, master investigators like their dad, have got the evidence of who first did the dastardly deed.”

Capt. Hamilton turned bright red, but Orton and Edward came right to the screen.

“So, what happened was that the Bible doesn't actually say what day the Lord was born on, but if you look at the weather in Bethlehem, you just know it wasn't any time between November and February,” Orton said. “It's just too cold – the shepherds, the sheep, and Mary and Joseph would have all frozen to death outdoors.”

“The first Noel surely was NOT was on a cold winter's night that was so deep,” Edward said, “and those merry gentlemen who were told 'Let nothing you dismay' should have dismayed because they were told an outright lie: 'Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day.'”

“We found some on the Negro Spirituals side too, because slave owners passed on the lies,” Velma Trent said. “There was no star in the East on Christmas morn, although maybe 'Rise Up, Shepherd, and Foller' was really a reference to the North Star and it being a good time to rise up and escape!”

“That actually makes more sense,” Edward said, “but that doesn't help us Anglo-Saxon type of folk, or Europeans in general.”

“So, what happened sometime in the third or fourth century A.D. was that the Roman Catholic Church wanted to have a holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ, but they knew nobody was coming in September for that – harvest and such was going on,” Orton said. “But the leaders noticed that to the north of Rome, folks were celebrating stuff around the Winter Solstice around December 25, and to the south in Africa, people were celebrating the birth of Horus, so they just decided to have their service for the birth of Christ – Christ's Mass – right there and just throw His day in with all of that so everybody would just be in the mood to celebrate.”

“In other words,” Edward said, “He got served the leftovers instead of having His own birthday party.”

“Wait,” Lil' Robert said. “Jesus doesn't even get His own birthday cake?”

“I'm afraid not,” Andrew his eldest brother said. “Given that the day should be in September, the leftovers are about three months old by December 25.”

Lil' Robert threw his tiny hands up.

“What is wrong with people!” he cried. “Nobody wants that old stuff in the back of the refrigerator!”

“And we've been serving it to the Lord of Glory for 1,700 years,” Edward said. “I just didn't even realize how good and patient God is before today.”

“Wow,” Gracie and Louisa said together. “Just wow.”

“But see, there is your answer, already,” Monsieur Dubois said, asserting his position as the oldest adult in the conference.

Everyone gave the wise Dubois patriarch their attention.

“The Lord already knew everyone would get it wrong in the world, but remember: He came not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. So: the Roman Catholic Church found a time in which everyone in the world as they understood it would be paying attention to a new holiday and celebration. This is not a bad thing: it means that at least once a year, people otherwise too busy will be willing to consider what we have to share about Christ. He knows what He is doing, even if the rest of us, as usual, have messed the whole thing up!

“As for Christmas in September, remember that the Scripture says: always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have in you. If people see our hope and joy now, and if they are interested to know about Christ and how He lived a sinless life, died on the cross for the sins of all in the world and rose again, and that any hearer willing to turn from their sins and trust in Christ can be saved, then those who believe can have September through eternity to know God in Christ and share in our joy of every season!”

Everybody smiled, and then Louisa kissed her grandfather's cheek.

“I knew he had the answer!” she said.

“And now we all have it,” Vertran said with a sigh of relief. “Thank you, grandfather-in-law in my future. For everyone else, Merry Christmas in a week's advance to all, and to all a good night.”

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