As the author of the Jigsaw Jones series, I’ve been told by more than one editor that I am “so Jigsaw.” And I suppose that’s reasonably true. But I also identify with Jigsaw’s father. He is, like me, a list-maker. (By the way, Nick Hornby nailed that particular aspect of maleness in his book, High Fidelity — that atavistic urge to build fires, hunt, and make lists.) The scene below was inspired by interactions with my own children. At this time of year, we seem to always make a list to plan “The Christmas Movies We’ve Got to See.”
The scene below, which contains said list, comes early in Jigsaw Jones Super Special #4: The Case of the Santa Claus Mystery, soon after Jigsaw’s father has despaired over the empty materialism of the holidays. He has just insisted, over protests, that the family remain together to decorate the tree. This book is, by the way, one of my favorites in the series. Jigsaw tackles the ultimate mystery, the big man in the red suit, in a way that I hope is satisfying (and not disillusioning) for readers of all persuasions.
“But I have plans . . .” Hillary protested.
“You heard your father, Hill,” my mother said. “We’re going to do something nice together — or else.”
For a while there, I worried that “or else” was going to win. But once we got started, we had fun. Even Hillary. Grams baked sugar cookies. Billy brought down his guitar and played rockin’ versions of Christmas tunes. Then my mom pulled out the DVD of A Charlies Brown Christmas.
“Ah, a classic,” my father beamed. “My favorite Christmas show ever.”
After we watched it, we started talking about all of our favorite Christmas shows.
“Let’s make a list,” my father suggested.
“Oh, your father and his lists,” my mother groaned, laughing.
“Hey,” he protested. “I love lists!”
“So let’s do it,” I said.
We got to work on a list of the Ten Best Christmas Shows in the History of the World. Then we promised to watch every single one this year. Here’s our list:
A Charlie Brown Christmas
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original version, duh)
A Christmas Story
The Polar Express
The Santa Clause
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Miracle on 34th Street
A Christmas Carol
“Pretty good,” Grams said, looking over the list when we finished. “But you have to add It’s a Wonderful Life.”
That’s when I got a phone call from Sally Ann Simms. It sounded important. “I have a case for you,” she said. “Are you still doing detective work over Christmas?”
“You bet,” I replied. “A good detective is always on the job. For a dollar a day, I make problems go away.”
We arranged to meet the next day. I hung up the phone and rushed back to the discussion. “You can’t scratch Elf off the list,” I exclaimed. “He pours maple syrup on his spaghetti!”
NOTE: Okay, what do you make of that list? Did I miss any? Do you hate any that were included? My hands-down favorite is A Christmas Story, though there are definitely language issues that need to be addressed before viewing, and may not be suitable for every family. And for what it’s worth, I really, really detest Frosty the Snowman. I just want that guy to melt. Lastly: It just occurred to me that Santa himself is the ultimate list-maker! (Though, if the articles I’ve read are true, The Lord Almighty may lay claim to that crown on Judgment Day.)
So, Santa, I don’t know if you keep up with the children’s literature blogs or not, but if you do, please know, I’ve been awfully nice! But don’t worry about gifts just yet. I’ll send a list.
In the heat of battle my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.