Our women’s ministry requested, that is, insisted, that I write a short story for their recent Ladies Tea/Breakfast/ that was “sci-fi, fantasy, and about Christmas.”  What you read below is what I produced, on demand, without a contract at thatTomorrow look for a new post with my Advent 1 translation from Matthew and then probably another new post on Wednesday about working the Jingle Bell Run.

I’ve never told anyone the true story of how I came to live such a wonderful life of joy and adventure.  It is a secret that I swore I would take to my grave, because no one would ever believe it.  However, since the women’s ministry have assigned me work to do I suppose now is the time to tell it.  My story begins long ago when I was a teenager.  George H. W. Bush was President, the Berlin Wall had recently fallen, the kid who invented Facebook was in kindergarten, and my hair was still thick and lush.  The time was winter, December 24 to be exact.  That magical day was one shy of Christmas and five short days until my birthday; my 18th birthday.

I had stepped outside for some fresh air, when I spotted in the horizon a glowing orb the color of ember.  It was not flying as much as it was hovering, just a few feet off the ground out in the watermelon patch.  Intrigued, I slipped on my boots and a light coat, grabbed the 12 gauge shotgun off the back porch and went to investigate.  As I neared the UFO, its color continued to change.  It turned from ember to dark green and then an electric blue.  With each color change it appeared to get larger until, as I approached it, it had gone from a small speck about the size of a basketball to a large oval about my own height.

“Jamie Greening,” the orb called my name.

“Yes—it is I,” I stammered a response.

“Tonight is your night of extreme fortune.  We have traveled across the known galaxy in search of a recipient for a most special gift.  You, among all the sniveling bi-pedal creatures upon this planet, have been selected to receive the gift.  Do you wish to receive it?”

Amazed, but not completely out of my wits, I responded cautiously.  “What is the gift?”

“Ah, your wisdom demonstrates why you are the recipient!  The gift is nothing less than a genie in a bottle.  This genie will give you any three wishes—except you cannot wish for more wishes.”

At this point I knew it was my lucky day.  All my life I’d wanted a genie in a bottle and had been working on my wish list since 7th grade.  When other boys were practicing jump shots and chasing girls, I was whittling down my list from 10 to 3.  So, it was with joy that I replied to the generous orb, “I accept your gracious gift.”

Instantly the orb disappeared and in its place was the ugliest genie you could imagine.  It was female, maybe, but not cute like Barbara Eden.  Instead, the genie looked like Ernest Borgnine.  The genie slobbered as she, or maybe it was a he, asked “What is your first wish?”

Well, that was easy, since I’d been working on my list for so long.  “I wish to have the greatest, most beautiful, and spectacular wife ever.”

“Your wish has been granted,” said the oafish genie as he, or maybe it was a she, belched.  “Your wish will be fulfilled in the future, and will come true on August 7, 1993.  Just make sure you go to church the first Sunday in September in 1992.  What is your second wish?”

I was a little upset that the wish did not come instantly; but I was okay with the future promise.  So I concentrated and got back to work with what I knew my next wish would be.  “I wish to have two great children who will be smart, have outstanding personalities, and who will always be loyal and faithful to family and friends.”

“Your wish is granted.  You shall have two daughters.  They will be all that you ask, but be careful, the oldest shall be clever, and the youngest shall be crafty.”

Hum, sounds a lot like me, I thought to myself.

“What is your final wish—but make this quick, I’ve got to be on Pluto for a Christmas party ya know.  They really know how to celebrate Jesus’ birthday on Pluto.”

“Okay genie.  I wish to have the best job in the history of the world.

The hideous genie smiled and said, “Your wish is granted, enjoy the blue roof and the slanted, crooked floors.”


Mrs. Greenbean has told me that I can’t receive the mail or be near any parcels which arrive for the next several days.  The reason for this, she says, is my Christmas present is on the way and I would know what it was just by looking at the box.  I’m not much of a snooper on things like this, but my curiosity is definitely piqued.  The only clue I have to work with is my wife said (or was it my oldest daughter who said it?) it was, “Something you’ve always wanted.”

Well, that narrows it down.  My first guess, then, was that it was a cheese wheel.  I have always wanted one of those.  She said that wasn’t what it was.  This means that my Christmas present is a genie in a bottle.  That is the only other thing I’ve always wanted.  I have been thinking about my three wishes ever since I was a little boy and saw Barbara Eden on television.

  1. Wish Number One:  Every time I reach into my pocket, may there be a new $100 bill.  Admittedly, when I was boy, it was a $5 bill but, times have changed and so have my needs.  I devised this plan based upon two problems.  If I asked for a set amount of money, it might not be enough to do things.  With this plan, I can always get more.  It also solves the problem of storage.  A set amount of money could be stolen or lost on devastating investments—like retirement funds.  But this way, I just pull it out when I need it.
  2. Wish Number Two:  I wish for the ability to travel through time without having to worry about any annoying causality problems.  As a historian it would be fascinating to me to see key moments in history as well as everyday life in the past.  Imagine having a cup of coffee with Abraham Lincoln before he was anyone important or chatting with Hemingway about bullfighting?  That’s the kind of stuff I would enjoy.  The only problem is language.  To visit the past, say, Rome—one really would need to master classical Latin or learn Chinese to see t he emergence of the Han Dynasty.  I wonder if this second wish could have an addendum about languages
  3. Wish Number Three:  It is tempting to be swayed by silly Disney films and make my third wish to free the genie.  My old friend Chuck always reminds me, though, the ancient literature says repeatedly “Fear one thing—the Djinn” so I will refrain from unleashing that type of devastation upon the planet.  So, my third wish is I that I have top-secret security clearance as an agent of the FBI.  I’ve waffled in the past on this—sometimes the CIA or The Texas Rangers (not the baseball team, but the totally awesome law enforcement agency) or even Interpol.  But I’ve decided in my fantasy it would be easier to live the life of a top-secret agent and keep my calling as a pastor if I stay domestic with the FBI.


In the unlikely event that my Christmas present is not a genie in a bottle; then I will let you know what kind of cheese it was.  Until then, all of us should be working on our three wishes, just in case our special someone gives us what we’ve always wanted.