329: “Fruitcake Chronicles,” a serialized holiday story, Part 3

(and our gift continues …)

WE’RE BACK TODAY with Part 3 of our holiday serial, “Fruitcake Chronicles,” written by Doug Bursch, a pastor and an inspiring
writer from the Pacific Northwest. (To read more about him: Check out his new venture: “The Fairly Spiritual Show.”)
Please, tell us what you think! It won’t spoil this tale to say it’s a
mingling of Frank Capra’s “Wonderful Life,” National Lampoon’s
“Christmas Vacation” with a good dose of classic pulp fiction sprinkled
on top. And, in the end, if you stay with us, I think you’ll enjoy
where we all land, in the end.
    So, without further ado …

The Fruitcake Chronicles:
A Rebellious Trash Can

By Doug Bursch
(Part 3 of 6)

(LINKS TO ALL PARTS: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Parts 5 & 6)

AS STEVE WALKED TOWARDS HIS GARBAGE CAN, the fruitcake weighed heavily in his hand and on his conscience. Unable to resist a gracious gift from a persuasive widow, Steve had been forced to break his first Christmas resolution. Weeks before he had determined not to allow Christmas to intrude upon his November. Sadly, he found himself a week before Thanksgiving about to throw away his first Christmas present: a fruitcake from “Grandma” Lurvy.
    Divine intervention comes in all forms. For Steve Forester it arrived in the form of an uncooperative garbage can. On the salary of a public school teacher, Mr. Forester’s home was less than state of the art. This created some minor hardships for Steve. For instance, Steve was forced to watch his favorite football team in low definition. The burden of this low-tech life was far reaching.
    To compensate for his dearth of expensive gadgetry, Steve would on occasion purchase a low cost, high-tech gizmo. These bottom-drawer purchases included such items as an automatic apple peeling parer, an electric pasta maker, and a fully automated mini-sausage Factory. Most of these items lasted for many years due to their infrequent use and limited usefulness. Even so, Steve was still perpetually attracted to low cost, high-tech solutions. This led to his most recent purchase, a motion-sensor garbage can for the kitchen.

    The idea was simple enough. Instead of manually lifting the garbage lid, one had only to wave a hand in front of the motion sensor and watch the lid magically rise. No more awkward grasping and unnecessary bending. From it’s inaugural use, the gadget appeared to be a great success. Each family member took his or her turn effortlessly disposing garbage in the all-too-eager contraption. Steve’s youngest daughter Cynthia spent the evening feeding the receptacle like a trained seal.
    With her 6-year-old imagination in full flower, Cynthia commanded the can, “Now sit! Good boy. Now catch! Good job.” Then she would lovingly add, “Who’s a good trash can? Who’s a good trash can?” Each time the seal opened it’s mouth, Cynthia’s would reward it with a crumpled up piece of paper. Steve began to question the necessity of ever owning a dog. By week’s end, Steve questioned the wisdom of ever buying the garbage can.
    Unbeknown to Mr. Forester, his contemporary canister had been equipped with NASA strength sensors. As a result, the trash can had a habit of opening its lid whenever anyone walked near the kitchen or even near the house. Even when all seemed still, the lid suddenly would pop up as if haunted by an extremely tidy ghost. Soon the family began to avoid the kitchen for fear of causing the can to unnecessarily flip its top. Consequently, like a neglected pet, the oversensitive waste bucket languished in the corner of the kitchen, continually begging to be fed.
    To this over zealous trash can, Steve Forester brought Mrs. Lurvy’s offering. As Steve reached the garbage can, something rather unexpected happened — or more accurately did not happen. The lid refused to open. Steve waved the fruitcake in front of the sensor as if it were a lure to be swallowed. The trash can would not take the bait. Instead, it sat quietly, defiantly close-lipped.
    “Come on! Open up, you stupid can!” The can would not step down. Steve waved both hands in front of the stubborn can like a frantic mime, hailing a cab. His efforts came to no avail; the lid remained shut. Steve was about to manhandle the hand sensor when suddenly the word “intervention” popped into his head. Like a divine whisper “intervention” interrupted Mr. Forester’s quest to trash this premature first fruit of Christmas.

    Intervention, Steve thought. That’s what this is — an intervention. This garbage can is trying to tell me something. This fruitcake must be — it must be what Christmas is all about! It’s handmade. From the heart. Genuine.
    He declared: “It’s a sign! We don’t need less fruitcake, we need more!” Then a moment later: “Well maybe not fruitcake, but more of this!” Steve paused in his mental soliloquy, stood up straight and raised the fruitcake to eye level. “This is Christmas! This is what we need. More of this!”
    The line between inspiration and madness has much to do with who writes the biography. Steve felt he was stumbling along the best path to redeem Christmas. Those around him were less certain. Regardless, Steve resolved to pursue a dual course of action. First, he would make it his quest to find someone who actually liked fruitcake. Second, he would prevent his family from succumbing to the commercialization of Christmas. This year, instead of buying presents for his family he would make them handcrafted gifts.
    In theory the idea had merit. In reality it verged on disastrous.



    FOR HANUKKAH (AND CHRISTMAS): Meet Rabbi Schulweis in a Conversation about his provocative and hopeful new book on “Conscience.” Or, enjoy the remarkable history of “The Bagel.”
    GIFTS? Check out our list for the “young in heart and spirit.”
    ANOTHER KIND OF CHRISTMAS STORY: The Spiritual Wanderer’s Christmas tale.
    SHARE STORIES OF GENEROSITY: Dr. Wayne Baker invites readers to “pay it forward — and backward” this week by sharing heart-warming stories at www.OurValues.org

PLEASE, Tell Us What You Think.
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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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