|Silas Rockport was the King of Thanksgiving. He began with Happy Thanksgiving
Day cards (Traditional and Spiritual at first, followed by Contemporary
and Humorous). Then, reasoning that atheists had no emotional investment
in Thanksgiving, and vegetarians had no gustatory investment in Turkey
Day, he instigated and funded a grass-roots campaign to conceptualize the
celebration as Togetherness Day. He pushed it all over the world, as an
exotic import from the swinging but oh-so-sentimental USA.
The Togetherness Day cards were a big hit, and so were the matching paper napkin/plate/tablecloth sets, hot-'n'-cold cups sold separately. He did a big business in fragile centerpieces that only lasted a couple of years, but a soul-less rival came up with fragile-looking plastic ones that were indestructible, and Silas lost most of his market share.
That was when he had his first brainstorm: edible centerpieces for Thanksgiving/Turkey/Togetherness Day. The centerpieces--no! the masterpieces!--were spun of irradiated vegetable matter (artificial color and flavoring added) and came in a variety of styles and prices. One of the most popular was Autumn Leaves, made of cranberry sauce (red), buttery mashed potatoes (pale gold), sweet potatoes (deep gold), turkey--marinated tofu for the vegetarians--(brown)and pumpkin pie (orange). The higher-priced model sat on a revolving music box which played "September Song," which wasn't very appropriate, title-wise, but was all about the autumn leaves, and nobody ever remembered the real title, anyway.
His second brainstorm came after he had read, with mounting fury, a series of grateful letters from satisfied customers, telling him that they loved his company's paper and plastic products so much they treated them gently, washed them carefully, and used them year after year with the pride of tradition. He knew that making a shoddier product would only alienate his market base, so they had him by the short hairs, there. Then it hit him--make the intended disposable products edible, too! He'd like to see them re-use something little Johnny had taken a great big slobbery bite out of!
The new items took off like wild turkeys. As the old paper and plastic goods eventually did wear out, the old customers bought into the new paradigm and, each year, the goods that weren't eaten were run through paper shredders and given to the dogs. "Just like at that First Glorious Get-Together!" dewy-eyed people in commercials said, as music swelled and they choked back their humble tears.
Next, he launched a line of Togetherness Day action figures: Pilgrims, Indians, log cabins, scale model of Plymouth Rock, rustic tables, loseable and replaceable plastic foods, deluxe set includes your choice of Pilgrim or Indian costume in S, M, L, or XL, specify boy or girl. A Saturday morning action-hero cartoon show naturally followed, with a muscular John Smith, an equally muscular Powhaton, and warrior-babe Pocahontas uniting to fight the forces of Evil throughout the universe. The movie broke sales records on its opening weekend.
All good things come to an end, even a life of success and riches. The time came when Silas Rockport stood before the judgment throne of God. He was a little nervous, but he subscribed to a faith that believed once saved, always saved, and he had been saved as a boy (he congratulated himself on his forethought) and wasn't really worried.
"I throw myself on Your mercy," he told God, smugly.
"We were afraid you might," said God. "So We've recused Ourself from your case."
"Recused Ourself. Your case will be tried in another court."
God's throne room faded like the metaphor it was, and was replaced by a room built of wood. Most of the room was filled with backless benches, shimmering under a press of barely-visible forms. At the back was a double door, closed and barred. At the front was a dais and a judge's bench big enough to seat seven. Figures glimmered and coalesced behind the bench, and seven men, dressed in somber blacks and browns, took their seats.
"Ladies and gentlemen," said the Voice of God, "from those same wonderful folks who gave you the Salem Witch Trials, We are proud to present--THE PURITANS."
Now, some think the Puritans had no sense of humor, but those people are mistaken. For example, take the judgment against Silas Rockport. His companies had made a packet for him on Wall Street, so they gave him the stocks. His cartoon show and spin-off movies were packed with simplistic violence, so they had him beaten with simple big thick sticks. He had invented, promoted, and commercialized Togetherness Day, so they tied his hands together, likewise his feet. They didn't strip him because, as one said, they always had liked the dressing as well as anything, and they sent him somewhere to roast until tender.
Considering what they had to work with, he would be a very long time
in preparation, but they were Puritans, and they knew how to wait.