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SHRILLOCK HOMES & THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
.               (longer version) - written by Tanis Harms
TOPIC:       finding the true meaning of Christmas
SCRIPTURE:   Matthew 1:18-23
Style:       comedy/spoof of Sherlock Holmes where
.            a man hires a detective to find the
.            stolen meaning of Christmas
Cast:        SHRILLOCK HOMES, MUMSON (assistant)
.            CHAUFFEUR, COOK, BUTLER (male)
.            Mr. Myspace (male), Mrs. Myspace (female)
.            Nana (or Pops), Child (1 – 4)
NOTE:        (you can determine how many children and
.             adapt the lines accordingly; and unless
.             specified roles-may either male or female)
Set & Props: magnifying glass, notebook, pen, toys,
.            Bible, bookshelf,
.            3 chairs (or rocking chair & sofa),
.            (Christmas tree is optional, make the set
.             as simple or as elaborate as desired)
NOTE:        SHRILLOCK has the most lines,
.             and can keep the script in his notes,
.             which he can refer to as often as needed,
.             and pretend to write notes, etc.

SCRIPT:

(There is a knock at the door.  BUTLER goes to answer.  
SHRILLOCK and MUMSON enter.)

SHRILL    Good evening, Shrillock Homes here,
.         at your service.  
.         And this is my trusty assistant, Mumson.

BUTLER    (quizzical)  Mumson?

SHRILL    Yes, as in – “mums” the word.  Mumson.
.         And you are Mr. Myspace, I presume?

BUTLER    I’m sorry, I am JUST the butler.

SHRILL    JUSTON Butler!

BUTLER    No-no.  I am ONLY but the butler.

SHRILL    (to Mumson)  BUD – the butler?

(MUMSON sighs and shrugs to BUTLER.)  
.                                                       2
SHRILL    (to Butler)  You are a person
.         of many names, Bud.

BUTLER    (getting frustrated)
.         I am MERELY - the butler.

SHRILL    Make up your mind, Merely.

(MUMSON rolls his eyes at the ridiculous conversation.)

BUTLER    (giving up)  I shall announce you
.         to Mr. Myspace.

(NANA and Mr. MYSPACE enter just as BUTLER turns.)

BUTLER    Ah, Mr. Myspace, there you are.
.         Shrillock Homes has arrived, sir.

NANA      Eh?  Did you say something?  Speak up, sonny.

SHRILL    (to Mumson)  Now his name is Sonny.

BUTLER    (slowly, clearly)  Shrillock Homes, ma’am.

NANA      What’s that?

SHRILL    (yelling)  SHRILL-LOCK HOMES.

NANA      Ah, I see.  A name that speaks for itself.

(NANA sits down and begins to knit, ignoring everything
around her.  If it is POPS, he can read a newspaper.
BUTLER stands to the side at attention.)

MR. M     Indeed.  Ah, come in Mr. Homes.

SHRILL    Shrillock, please.  Now, what seems to be
.         this matter of urgency that you had
.         to call me out right during the holidays?

MR. M     That’s just it.  The MATTER IS about –
.         the holidays.

(SHRILLOCK and MUMSON look at each other
with squinty eyes.  SHRILLOCK turns back to MR. M.)

SHRILL    I don’t understand, sir.

MR. M     It is gone.  MISSING!  It has been STOLEN.
.                                                       3
SHRILL    Well, MY holiday certainly has been stolen now
.         since you had us rush way over here,
.         just because YOU do not get any days off?

MR. M     No-no-no – someone has stolen –
.         (build up suspense)  the MEANING –
.         of the holidays.  Someone has stolen
.         the meaning of CHRISTMAS.

SHRILL    I see!  Yes-yes, I quite understand.
.         This IS a serious crime.
.         A very serious crime, indeed.

MR. M     So you can help?

SHRILL    Of course.  My name is DETECTIVE
.         Shrillock Homes.  It is my business
.         to know what other people don’t know.
.         We shall investigate at once.
.         (to MUMSON)  Come, Mumson, the game is afoot.

MR. M     Just let me know if there’s anything you need.
.         If there’s anything I can do to help –

SHRILL    Yeeessss, let me see...  very strange,
.         very strange.

(SHRILL looks around “room” with the magnifying glass.)

MUMSON    For a Christmas celebration, it certainly
.         is quiet.  WHY is it so quiet?
.         What do you make of it, Homes?

SHRILL    Ah!  Elementary, my dear Mumson.
.         The FAMILY has been stolen.
.         Not only is that a clue, but THAT,
.         (to MR. M)  my good kind sir,
.         solves the mystery behind the stolen meaning
.         of Christmas.  Isn’t the meaning of Christmas –
.         family?

MR. M     Ah, well, except that I DO have a family.
.         And they are all here, in fact.

SHRILL    You do?  All here?  In this house?
.         You are a very fortunate man.
.         This certainly does change things.
.         Please, summon everyone to this room.

MR. M     Of course.  (to BUTLER)  Butler,              3
.         find the wife and children and
.         bring them all here at once please.

SHRILL    I need EVERYONE in this house –
.         to be in this room.

MR. M     In that case, also call in the cook
.         and chauffeur.

BUTLER    Right away, sir.

(BUTLER exits. As they wait, NANA looks up at SHRILLOCK.)

NANA      Who are these people?

MR. M     Shrillock Homes and Mumson, Nana.

NANA      Who?

SHRILL    SHRILL-LOCK, ma’am.

NANA      Sounds familiar.  Who are they and
.         why are they here?

(MR. M puts a hand up to stop SHRILLOCK from
yelling again.)

MR. M     They are detectives, Nana.  They are here
.         to help us find the meaning of Christmas.

NANA      It’s Christmas?

MR. M     Yes, Nana.  (to SHRILL)  See what I mean?
.         It’s completely gone.

SHRILL    Do not fear, Mr. Myspace.  You have hired
.         the very best detectives – in the world.
.         We shall find it.  Not to worry.

(BUTLER leads MRS. MYSPACE, the KIDS, COOK and CHAUFFEUR
into the room.  MRS. MYSPACE goes to stand beside MR. M.  
The KIDS immediately sit down on the floor and play
with a few toys.  BUTLER, COOK and CHAUFFEUR stand
at attention off to the side.  SHRILLOCK walks up
and down, looking at each person with skepticism.)

SHRILL    A crime has been committed in this very house.
.         Someone has stolen the meaning of Christmas,
.         and it will be my job to FIND it.
.                                                       5
MRS.      Who is this STRANGE person, dear?

(SHRILLOCK winds up to yell out the name,
but MR. M puts up his hand to stop SHRILL.)

MR. M     This is Shrillock Homes.

(MUMSON gives SHRILL a stern look.)

SHRILL    And my very trusty assistant Mumson.  Now!
.         We shall begin the investigation at once, and
.         I shall ask that all of you remain in this room
.         until the mystery is solved.  The meaning of
.         Christmas has been stolen, and the answer lies
.         somewhere in this very room.  Someone HERE
.         is responsible.

MRS.      You suspect one of US?

SHRILL    Should I suspect – YOU?  (stares right at MRS.)

MRS.      (coolly)  Not at all.  

SHRILL    Do you HAVE the meaning of Christmas in your
.         possession - right now?

MRS.      Not right at this very moment.

SHRILL    So you admit that you took it,
.         and then - hid it?

MRS.      I have hidden nothing!  In fact,
.         I’ve been spending a good deal of time
.         and effort to plan -

SHRILL    So you admit that you have the
.         meaning of Christmas.

MRS.      Of course.  

SHRILL    And you say - you have been planning this crime
.         for quite some time?

MR. M     Why?!  Why?!  Why would you take the meaning
.         of Christmas from us?

MRS.      No – yes – no -

SHRILL    Which is it, Mrs. Myspace?
.                                                       6
MRS.      Well, what do you mean?  I have been planning
.         a party, not a crime.  And I was planning on –
.         giving it BACK.  I’m throwing the party
.         tonight, in fact.  So if you could please
.         speed up this process -

SHRILL    And why is that, Mrs. Myspace?  Is that so
.         you can get away with your crime?

MRS.      Not at all.  I just want everything to
.         be perfect, and right on time.

SHRILL    And when does the meaning of Christmas come in?

MRS.      That’s it... it’s the party.

SHRILL    The meaning of Christmas is the party?

MRS.      Yes.

MR. M     Nooooo, that’s not it.  That’s not it at all.

(MRS. looks hurt.  MR. M tries to make her feel better.)

MR. M     Not that you don’t throw great parties, dear.
.         (to SHRILL)  She really does, you know, but –
.         (back to MRS.)  But you throw parties
.         ALL the time.
.         (to SHRILL)  Must you grill my family, so?
.         Will the children be next?

SHRILL    Things must be done decently and in order.
.         I will get to them, eventually.
.         In due time, sir.
.         (back to MRS.)  Now, if you throw parties
.         all year long, how can the meaning of Christmas
.         be “parties”?

MRS.      Well, the Christmas party has
.         a Christmas theme, with – Christmas food.

SHRILL    Food?  What kind of food?

MRS.      It’s the cook!  She’s responsible!

(SHRILL uses the magnifying glass to look more closely
at the BUTLER, COOK and CHAUFFEUR who all stand at
attention, scared to breathe.  SHRILL stops short,
looking at something on the COOK’S shoulder.)

SHRILL    Ah-ha!  A clue!  Some sort of food.

(SHRILL uses a finger, pretending to touch the stain and
taste it.)

SHRILL    Figgy pudding?

COOK      It’s – it’s gravy, sir, turkey gravy.

SHRILL    Then you must be the cook.

MUMSON    Brilliant, my dear Homes.

SHRILL    Thank you.  So, let us piece this all together,
.         shall we.  You are indeed the cook,
.         are you not?

COOK      Yes, sir.

SHRILL    Did you steal the meaning of Christmas?

COOK      Not at all, sir.  I just follow directions
.         and mix the stuff to make the food.

SHRILL    And where do you find this - STUFF?

COOK      At the grocery store.

SHRILL    But you have in your possession the recipes
.         for the meaning of Christmas?

COOK      I keep them SAFE...  None of them have
.         been stolen, to my knowledge.
.         I also have recipes for other occasions.

SHRILL    Hmmmm, but we are particularly interested
.         in what you possess for Christmas.
.         So, for these Christmas parties,
.         what sort of food items do you make?

COOK      Turkey, and gravy – from the turkey, and ah,
.         potatoes, yams, lots of baked goods...

(SHRILL refers to notebook.)

SHRILL    If you don’t mind me saying so, this
.         ALSO sounds a lot like – Thanksgiving.

COOK      I-it would be pretty much the same things.
.                                                       8
SHRILL    Hm!  I see.  So it would be safe to say –
.         that you do NOT have the meaning of Christmas
.         in your possession.

COOK      Not at all, sir.  I don’t know if there is even
.         a recipe for that.  It’s just food, sir.

SHRILL    (to CHAUFFEUR)  And YOU.  What is it
.         that you do?

CHAUFF.   I am a chauffeur.  I drive.  I drive cars.
.         And I drive people around – in those cars.

SHRILL    What does Christmas mean to YOU?

CHAUFF.   I would say – going places.

SHRILL    What kind of places?

CHAUFF.   Interesting places... parks, concerts,
.         churches...

SHRILL    Churches?  Is that only for Christmas?

CHAUFF.   Ahhh, no.  I take people to church for lots
.         of other things...  all year round.  The park,
.         though, the park only has lights on the trees
.         during the Christmas season.

SHRILL    Perhaps you took the meaning of Christmas for
.         a drive – to the park – and just –
.         left it there.

CHAUFF.   No, I don’t think I have ever had the meaning
.         of Christmas in one of my cars.

(SHRILL moves on to the BUTLER.)

SHRILL    And YOU – Juston, Merely, Sonny, Bud –
.         whatever your name is NOW...
.         besides answering the door, what do you do?
.         Do you have anything to do with Christmas?

BUTLER    I keep everything clean, as I do all
.         year round.  I do help decorate though.
.         This is unique to Christmas.

SHRILL    Or SO you SAY?  You SEE, but you do
.         not observe.  The distinction is clear.
.                                                       9
BUTLER    Huh?

MUMSON    (muttering) It’s one of his favorite sayings.

SHRILL    (to BUTLER)  Would you then say, that YOU have
.         the meaning of Christmas in your possession?

BUTLER    I guess.

SHRILL    You guess?  I never guess. It is a shocking
.         habit – destructive to the logical faculty.

MUMSON    (muttering) Another favorite saying.

BUTLER    Well, ah, the Christmas decorations are unique
.         from all the other decorations we put up during
.         the OTHER times of year.  So they have
.         a special meaning to Christmas.

SHRILL    Ah ha!

BUTLER    (defensively)  Mrs. Myspace loves the house
.         to be all decked out.  It always has
.         to sparkle, glitter and look festive.

(SHRILL uses the magnifying glass to look at
the Christmas tree / or some little decorations,
then turns to BUTLER.)

SHRILL    And it does, very nice job.  (serious again)
.         But is it all here?  Is anything missing
.         that is usually here for other Christmases?

(EVERYONE shakes their heads.)

BUTLER    I make very certain that nothing gets lost
.         or broken.  Otherwise Mrs. Myspace would cry.

(SHRILL looks over at MRS.)

MRS.      (nodding)  I would.

SHRILL    (sighs, moves on to KIDS)  Now, children –

MRS.      Oh, must you bother the children with this?

SHRILL    Most certainly.  I never make exceptions.
.         An exception disproves the rule.

MRS.      I’ll assume that’s another –                 10
.         favorite saying.

(MUMSON nods.  SHRILL address the KIDS again.)

SHRILL    Now, what does Christmas mean to all of you?

KID 1     Toys.

KID 2     Candy.

KID 3     Singing songs.

KID 4     No school.

SHRILL    Do you enjoy these things other times
.         of the year?

KID 1     We get toys on our birthdays.

KID 2     We get candy at Easter.

KID 3     We sing songs at school.

KID 4     We don’t have school at Easter,
.         OR in the summer.

SHRILL    So!  Nothing unusual there, then.

(SHRILL stands up straight.  MR. M looks nervous.
As MR. M to frets and paces, MUMSOR turns to SHRILL.)

MUMSON    When we first got here, why didn’t we first ask
.         Mr. Myspace what HE thought the meaning
.         of Christmas was so we could recognize it?

SHRILL    My dear, Mumson, brilliant, brilliant I say.
.         EXCEPT - it is a capital mistake to theorize
.         before one has data.  Insensibly one begins
.         to twist facts to suit theories, instead
.         of theories to suit facts.

MUMSON    (to EVERYONE)  This is a new one.

SHRILL    (to MUMSON)  My dear, Mumson, how often have
.         I said to you that when you have eliminated
.         the impossible, whatever remains,
.         however improbable, must be the truth?

MUMSON    I believe, this would be the first time, sir.
.                                                      11
SHRILL    None the less, we shall NOW query
.         Mr. Myspace...  (to MR. M)  Well, Mr. Myspace,
.         since you noticed that the meaning of Christmas
.         was missing, then you must have known
.         what it was in the first place.

MR. M     Ah, well, um, kind of, but not really?
.         I mean, over the past few years,
.         I was beginning to believe that the meaning
.         of Christmas was just all about –
.         spending lots of money.  But, I don’t know,
.         it was just – different when I was growing up.
.         (thinking, he goes over to NANA.)
.         Nana, when I was little, what was different
.         about our Christmases?

SHRILL    Yes, what does Christmas mean to you?

NANA      Traditions.

SHRILL    Traditions?  What KIND of traditions.

NANA      (thinking)  Well, we’d read from the Bible.

MR. M     Bible?  Do we have a Bible?

(MR. M looks around at everyone.  EVERYONE shrugs.  
SHRILL begins to look around with his magnifying glass
and searches the room.  MUMSON goes to the bookshelf and
finds the Bible.  He holds it up for everyone to see.)

SHRILL    Thank you, Mumson, brilliant again.

MUMSON    Elementary, dear Shrillock.

(MUMSON pretends to blow dust off it and coughs.)

BUTLER    I MAY have forgotten to clean that,
.         but I was NOT the one who put it there.

(MUMSON holds the Bible out for SHRILL to take.)

SHRILL    Now, what?  Did you read the entire book?

NANA      We would read...  I don’t quite remember now.
.         It was at the beginning of that NEW part.

(MUMSON decides to flip through the Bible and stops.)

MUMSON    Do you mean the New TESTAMENT?               12

NANA      Yes, that sounds about right.  I had forgotten.
.         It’s been so long.

MUMSON    (mumbling through Matthew 1:1-17)  “The...
.         generations of Jesus Christ, the son of David –

NANA      Oh, I remember, David was the king of Israel.

SHRILL    So this Jesus Christ was in line to be king?
.         Go on, Mumson, this is very intriguing.

MR. M     Yes, please go on Mumson.

MUMSON    Ahhh, “David, the son of Abraham”...
.         and it goes on to list all the fathers
.         and sons... lah, lah, lah, ahhh,
.         (it’s okay if he can’t pronounce the names)
.         Achim had Eliud, who had Eleazar,
.         who had Matthan, who had Jacob,
.         (louder at verse 16) “And the SON of Jacob
.         was JOSEPH the husband of Mary, who gave
.         birth to Jesus, whose name is Christ.”
.         Ah, now here in the book of Matthew, chapter 1,
.         verses 18 to 23, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ
.         was in this way:  when his mother Mary
.         was going to be married to Joseph,
.         before they came together, the discovery
.         was made that she was with child by
.         the Holy Spirit.  And Joseph, her husband,
.         being an upright man, and not desiring to make
.         her a public example, had a mind to put
.         her away privately.  But when he was giving
.         thought to these things, an angel of the Lord
.         came to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph,
.         son of David, have no fear of taking Mary as
.         your wife; because that which is in her body
.         is of the Holy Spirit.  And she will give birth
.         to a Son;  and you will give Him the name
.         Jesus; for He will give His people salvation
.         from their sins.’  Now all this took place
.         so that the word of the Lord by the prophet
.         might come true, ‘See, the virgin will be
.         with child, and will give birth to a Son,
.         and they will give Him the name Immanuel,
.         that is, God with us.’”

SHRILL    As I suspected all along, the meaning
.         of Christmas was NOT stolen - it was misplaced.
.                                                      13
MR. M     Amazing!  THERE is the meaning of Christmas!
.         A long, long time ago, just as God foretold
.         to mankind in the OLD Testament, He came
.         to SAVE us.  God came as a baby for a reason.
.         His birth has a GREAT meaning.  And Christmas
.         is meant to celebrate this...
.         It’s not just about a baby being born,
.         it’s the whole meaning BEHIND this birth.

MRS.      What a great theme for a party!

MR. M     A GREAT party, in honor of Jesus.

KID 1     Do we still get gifts?

MR. M     Giving gifts to each other is only
.         a tiny symbol.  By coming to earth to save us,
.         God gave us the greatest gift ever.
.         Nobody could ever STEAL that away from us.
.         And we certainly won’t misplace
.         the meaning of Christmas ever again!

SHRILL    Then our job here is done.

MR. M     Thank you, Shrillock Homes... and Mumson.

SHRILL    Thank YOU, Mr. Myspace.  By asking me here,
.         I was able to make this discovery – for myself.

COOK      Excuse me, I must get the turkey out
.         of the oven before it burns.

(MRS. M waves the COOK to go, then turns to SHRILL
and MUMSON, clapping her hands with a great idea.)

MRS.      Oh!  Why don’t you two join us
.         for Christmas supper?
.         We have more than enough to share.

SHRILL    That is most gracious of you, thank you.

MUMSON    Thank you, indeed.

MRS.      (to BUTLER and CHAUFFEUR)  All of you.
.         Come!  Everyone to the dining room.

(As all of them leave, the KIDS cheer, and MR. M
and SHRILL helps NANA up from the chair.)

NANA      When you just go through the motions,        14
.         traditions can lose all meaning.
.         But when there is TRUE MEANING behind them,
.         traditions are SO wonderful and moving.

MR. M     I quite agree, Nana, I quite agree.

SHRILL    Indeed, TRUTH is far, far better –
.         than indefinite doubt.  But I rather liked
.         Nana’s saying.  Very catchy!