Jenni's JABB 208 Playlist

"We all, every one of us, deserve a chance to change, a chance to do better...
Remember someone gave you another chance."
~ from Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol by Tom Mula

Hi all,

A very merry Christmas and blessed holiday season to all of you and yours!  What you see below you is probly my most personal JABB Christmas story yet.  Ruined Jello, blaring fire alarms, conflicts and misunderstandings have all ready made their way into my recent holiday celebrations. 
But I'll talk more of that when I get a chance to update the Author's Cut.  When I sat down to write this I hoped only for the usual hallmarks of a JABB Christmas story: movie parodies, a party, and a schmaltzy declaration of love for Andrew from the fictional counterpart of yours truly.  While all those things found their way into this story, I found new elements of a more serious nature working their way in.  I hope this has improved the JABB Christmas story tradition and not damaged it.  In addition, I would like to point out that Yvette wrote a lovely holiday story, The Christmas List, that leads into this one I wrote.  So you may want to check that out before reading this.  You can view it here

I'd like to thank the members of the JABB YahooGroup for allowing me to use their fictional counterparts and for helping to create such interesting stories and verbal exchanges on the email list.  Always fun to blend them in with the existing TBAA angels and Vincent (of Beauty and the Beast) who was my favorite TV character before Andrew.  I'd also like to thank the YG people for helping me through a very change-filled and somewhat difficult year.  Like our Dyeland counterparts, we made our way through and I'm grateful for that.

Again, heartfelt holiday wishes to each of you!

Until 2007...

God bless,

A Second Chance Christmas
December 22, 2006-- Dyeland City

To the strains of an instrumental rendition of "O Holy Night," Andrew pulled bowls, spoons, spatulas, cookie trays, and assorted baking goods from his cupboards and refrigerator.  He set them out on the kitchen table and eyed them warily, trying to remember all the things Lady Beth had taught him about cooking and baking.  He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.  He envisioned himself serenely and merrily greeting his guests as they entered Serendipity.  His first attempt at hosting the Dyeland Christmas party *had* to be a success.  By all accounts, it had been a rough year for the group.  That hadn't been any clearer to Andrew than when he and Princess Yva had set out to write up a list of all the Dyeland goings on of the year.  There had been some moments of utter joy: playing football, bringing the AOD Band back together, Adam's beach party in August, Andrew's own surprise birthday party the following month, and even Halloween had been special that year.  Then there were the important arrivals.  The angels Nigel and Henry had found their places in Dyeland.  Even Vincent had returned with a very constant presence for the first time in years.  But there had been hard times, too.  There'd been the mess surrounding Nadia's February non-wedding.  And Andrew hadn't relished emotionally reliving the Shiloh witch trials in the presence of his closest human friends and fellow angels of death.  Yet, nothing had compared to the trauma and drama of November.  His own reticence and grief over an assignment had managed to drive Princess Yva and even eventually Lady JenniAnn and Lady Beth away from Dyeland while Nigel, Adam, and Vincent were left to pick up the pieces.  No sooner had the community pulled through that than Princess Yva had taken ill and a whole new set of anxieties and interpersonal issues arose.  It was for all these reasons Andrew was determined to give them a wonderful Christmas.  The Father had given him a second chance with these people, his friends, and that was something worth celebrating.

"Thank you, Father," Andrew whispered, his eyes looking upward.  Then he sighed again, picked up a mixing bowl, and set about to prepare Christmas dinner for his friends.



"O star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect light," Andrew sang along with the CD as he hung ornaments on his tree.  He was somewhere in the second verse when his voice trailed off.  Something didn't smell quite right...  Andrew ran into the kitchen where the smell was stronger.  He pulled open the oven and stared at a dozen charred dinner rolls.  "Great," he mumbled as he scraped the blackened rolls off the tray.  "It's okay, Andrew.  It was your first attempt, the next batch will be perfect," he assured himself aloud.  His dog, Lulu, had been asleep under the table but stared at him, seeming to disbelieve him.  "They will!" he repeated then smiled and patted the dog's head.  Once more Andrew mixed the batter and poured it onto a tray.  Once more he set the oven timer.  For a couple minutes he just sat and stared at the oven.  At last convinced everything was all right, he returned to the tree with Lulu trailing him.  The angel smiled as he hung each ornament.  He'd foregone his usual green, blue, and gold bulbs in favor of a new sort of tree decor.  He hoped all of Dyeland would be touched by his efforts. 

At last the box of ornaments was empty.  Andrew stepped back and admired his efforts.  He turned to ask Lulu for her opinion but the little basset hound was no where to be found.  Scratching sounds alerted Andrew to her presence by the back door.  Andrew went to her and let her outside.  He stepped out himself to make sure all the outdoor lights were still aglow.  They were and he breathed a sigh of relief.  Once Lulu was ready, Andrew re-entered the house.  He had no sooner crossed the threshold when a blaring noise met his ears.  Lulu began barking.  The smoke alarm!  His brow creased and he ran into the kitchen.  The acrid smell of burning food made him turn up his nose.  He looked at the oven.  There was no fire, at least, but it was smoky.  He turned the oven off, grabbed his mitt, and stared at yet another batch of charred dinner rolls.  Annoyed, he set them near the sink and went to the refrigerator.  He pulled out the dish with the Jello salad he had put in there to set three hours ago.  As he did, red liquid sloshed over the edges and onto the vegetable tray below it.  It hadn't set!!  And now Andrew found himself with broccoli and cauliflower and carrots doused in unset cherry Jello!  Andrew shoved the dish back into the refrigerator.  He felt like he could cry.  Jello, a vegetable tray, and two dozen dinner rolls all ruined.  So much for the wonderful party he'd planned for his friends.  So much for breezily welcoming them and proudly telling of how much Lady Beth's lessons had helped him.  May be the Colonel was right.  He was a terrible cook.  Andrew sunk to the floor, ignoring the still blaring alarm, and put his head in his hands.  Lulu curled up beside him and put her head on his knee.  Andrew pulled her to him.  She licked his face, making him feel a bit better.  But then the dog began to bark wildly again, directly into his right ear.  Lulu pulled away from him and tore across the room to where Lady JenniAnn had just entered.

The woman hit the smoke alarm, turning it off, then knelt down to pet the frenzied dog.  "Hello sweetheart, what's happened here?" she cooed.  "Where's your buddy?"  She gasped then when she looked across the room.  "Andrew!  What are you doing on the floor?  And why were you just sitting there as the smoke alarm blared?  Are you hurt?!"

Andrew shook his head.  "No but dinner's a disaster.  I've burnt two dozen dinner rolls, my dessert is still in liquid form, and I have a cherry-flavored vegetable tray," he confessed.  "I just wanted to host this party tonight to show everyone I care and to make everyone forget for just one night all the trouble we've had."

Lady JenniAnn looked sympathetically at him then sat down on his left side.  "Poor love," she murmured and put an arm around him.  "I'm sure we can pull this all together.  If it makes you feel better, I've not written a word of my traditional Christmas story/parody.  Every year I write one, last year I even deliberately recreated scenes from holiday movies and books but this year I have zero inspiration."

"We're both holiday failures," Andrew declared with a wry smile.

Lady JenniAnn laughed.  "I guess so."


"I said I guess so," she repeated. 

"Oh, right.  Okay.  Sorry, my right ear is ringing.  Between the fire alarm and Lulu barking I can't hear a thing out of it.  I need a drink.  Ginger ale?" he offered.

"Sure," Lady JenniAnn agreed. 

They both stood up then and Andrew got two ginger ales out of the refrigerator before glaring at the Jello mess.  "I can't believe I burned two batches of rolls after all the time Lady Beth spent helping me," Andrew lamented once he sat across from Lady JenniAnn at the table.

"It's easy to get distracted around Christmas.  I think I saw that your tree was decorated so you must have been doing that.  I wasn't sure because I ran in so fast when I heard the alarm.  I was so worried that..."

"And Jello!  How does a person ruin Jello?!  And then the vegetables ruined because of that.  Now I don't even want to attempt to cook the turkey-like substance Adam sent over yesterday," Andrew continued to rattle on.

Lady JenniAnn realized then he'd not heard a word she said because of his bad ear.  Something clicked in her mind.  A certain holiday movie scene...

"We might just end up having flat soda and popcorn like you kept joking.  I've been a medical researcher.  I can speak dozens of languages.   I helped Galileo.  How can I not bake rolls?!?"

Lady JenniAnn sighed.  "Is this your bad ear?" she asked.

Oblivious, Andrew hung his head.  "I should never have volunteered to host this.  I should have let you like you have every year and at least then we'd have food and the ballroom doesn't stink with smoke and..."

"Andrew, I'll love you til the day I die," the woman whispered.

"At least the Christmas tree looks nice," Andrew finished.

Lady JenniAnn twisted her ring around her finger, lost in thought for a moment.  Then she smiled and answered the angel.  "Yes.  Say, how about I help you.  Surely in the next 5 hours we can whip a nice dinner up.  We can even call Lady Beth to come help us," Lady JenniAnn suggested loudly.

Andrew smiled gratefully at her but then his face fell.  "That'd be great but didn't you still want to try to write your Christmas parody story?"

Lady JenniAnn shrugged.  "I'll manage later.  Right now I want to help you.  How's your ear?"

"A little better.  I'm sure it'll stop ringing very soon.  I would be grateful if you would help but I know how important that story is to you.  It's tradition."

The woman winked.  "Oh don't worry, I've all ready managed one parody of sorts."

Andrew looked at her, confused.  "But when you came in here you said you had nothing and I haven't seen you do anything remotely like a Christmas movie."

"Hmm...  I guess it's a mystery," she grinned.  "I'll be back.  Gonna go get the Pillsbury rolls outta my freezer."

Andrew did a double take.  "Out of your freezer??  They aren't from scratch?"

Lady JenniAnn hugged him then.  "Aww!  You tried to make us dinner rolls from scratch.  That's adorable.  But no, mine never are.  Now, I'll go get them and we'll just keep this a secret between us."

Then she dashed off, leaving Andrew to call Lady Beth and try to think of what Christmas movie she could have parodied right in his presence with out his even noticing.



By six o'clock, the guests were streaming into Andrew's hallway and dining room.  Duchess Bunny and Baroness Karen arrived together, both healthful and glad to be back in Dyeland.  Princess Yva and Nigel also arrived together, the former patiently explaining some the more modern elements of Andrew's decor to her Victorian guardian angel.  Countess Jennifer came after them, also explaining much of the holiday elements to her guest.  The elf Legolas had decided to attend the party to learn about this beloved holiday.  Jess O'Neill came, too, bringing with her some of her latest catch from Lazy Lake in thanks to her host.  Henry arrived, looking overwhelmed but pleased to attend his first whole party in Dyeland.  They all mingled and sampled the appetizers which Lady Beth and Lady JenniAnn were quick to refresh when the selection ran low, leaving Andrew  free to welcome his guests.  Each person was joyful and relaxed.  As Lady JenniAnn had guessed, once Andrew calmed down and was encouraged by she and Lady Beth, the cooking had went splendidly.  By 6:30, Monica, Tess, and Gloria had arrived, fresh from their latest assignments.  Andrew noticed the two rooms were brimming and all his guests had arrived.  It was time now to unveil the tree that he had worked so long on.

In hushed, anticipatory silence, the group followed the angel as he opened the French doors that led into the living room.  He led them further into the room until everyone was gathered around the tree.  Andrew stooped down to plug in the lights, illuminating the dim room.  When he had done so, a chorus of "oohs" and "aahs" and "awws" filled the room.  Andrew's Christmas tree had become a visual display of the events of 2006 that he and Princess Yva had painstakingly recorded in the previous days.  The ornaments that hung from its branches also testified to Andrew's own, separate life from them.  Yet it became obvious the them that even when on assignment on Earth, Dyeland was never entirely out of the angel's mind nor his heart...

A photo of Princess Yva and Nigel had been pasted onto the top of a spaghetti jar that had broken during Andrew's stint in a grocery store.  It was a masterful shot that perfectly captured the bond between the two and, because of this, both its subjects were moved.  A fallen rose that Andrew had rescued from the floor of that same grocery's floral department had been dried and now its stem bent around a photo of Vincent and Catherine taken at Halloween.  A shot of Monica, proudly clanging cymbals that previous Easter, was taped into a coffee filter Andrew had got at the hotel he'd stayed at during his last assignment.  Drawing in multi-colored pens finished the ornament off.  An image of Jess O., in a candid shot against the backdrop of the sun setting over Lazy Lake, was suspended from fishing hooks Andrew's most recent assignment, Milton, had been pleased to give his industrious, angelic helper.  Another of Duchess Bunny and Baroness Karen had been glued to the center of a small plate with carrots around its circumference that Milton had also given the angel of death who had befriended him in his last days.  A photo of Countess Jennifer on horseback was nestled in the center of a horseshoe also obtained from the man's farm.  Adam's photo, a silly grin captured during one of Tess' rants, was surrounded by some of Alexander's fallen feathers that Andrew had gathered from his fellow angel of death's yard on Tourkia.  This caused Adam to stroke the feathers affectionately, hoping his feathered friend had not found his way into his stash of sweets while his keeper was away for the night.  There was another shot of the two angels of death, joined by Henry, taken by Monica during their impromptu band performance after Nadia's canceled wedding.  This was glued onto a scratched CD-R Andrew had made use of during his stint as a cyber-cop.  Lady JenniAnn giggled to find a cameo-shot of herself nestled in the hands of a small plush frog the angel had procured during an assignment as a toymaker.  A shot of Gloria, book in hand and reading intently, had been pasted collage-style onto a piece of wood (a scrap left over from work Andrew had done while an apartment maintenance man) with printed quotes from books surrounding it.  Legolas was surprised to find his own image attached to an imprint of a leaf in plaster that Andrew had made the previous summer when Dyeland had hosted a summer camp for the children from Vincent's community in the Tunnels.  Monica and Tess hugged each other again as they viewed an image of themselves hugging during one of their many reunions in Dyeland.  This photo Andrew had clipped onto some ill-formed and unusable car keys he had collected at a car dealership during an assignment the previous June.  These and other photographs/ornaments adorned the entire 8 foot tree.  Each person was lovingly represented several times on ornaments carefully created by their angelic friend.

"Andrew..." Princess Yva murmured, "when did you ever find the time to do all of this?"

Andrew looked away from his tree and blushed slightly upon seeing all the adoring, admiring eyes upon him.  "I, uhh, worked on them whenever I had free time during assignments.  I guess when I made them I didn't feel so far away from all of you."

Greatly moved, and many of them speechless, everyone took turns hugging Andrew.  When everyone had had time to reflect upon and admire the tree, they exchanged gifts and then the group moved into the dining room to all sit together and share Christmas dinner.



After dinner everyone returned to the living room where they again admired the tree and mingled amongst each other.  Andrew stood in the doorway, smiling and watching his guests enjoy themselves.  Monica and Tess sat on the couch, catching up on the assignments they had had apart from each other.  Countess Jennifer and Legolas also caught up with each other, having been apart for some time.  Adam animatedly told Henry, so new to Dyeland, about all the adventures and wonderful sights they had seen there.  Vincent laughingly told Duchess Bunny and Baroness Karen of some incident from Lady JenniAnn's childhood that the latter pretended annoyed her but no one bought the act.  Jess O'Neill tried to explain the ins and outs of football to Nigel while Princess Yva piped in, laughing good-naturedly at her guardian's confusion.  Gloria still stood by the tree, contemplating how Andrew had created each ornament. 

Andrew felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to find Lady Beth.

"So what do you think about your first Christmas party hosting effort?" she asked.  "I think you did a great job, Andrew."

Andrew smiled proudly.  "Thanks.  But I couldn't have done it with out a lot of help.  And I mean *a lot* of help.  Encouragement, too."

Lady JenniAnn noticed the two talking and got up to join them once Vincent and Karen had got into a discussion of various types of roses.

"And how are you, JenniAnn?" Andrew asked once she approached.

"Wonderful.  This is all wonderful, Andrew.  You did a great job," she beamed at him.

"I was just telling Lady Beth that I couldn't have done it with out help and encouragement from everyone, especially you both.  I don't know what we would have had for dinner otherwise!"

Lady JenniAnn shrugged.  "Dinner was delicious but, ya know, I think it's the company that matters most.  I'm just so glad we could all be together to celebrate."

"Me too," Lady Beth agreed.

Andrew sighed.  "I'm more glad of that than anything.  There were a few times this year I worried if we ever would all be together again."

Hearing that, Princess Yva came and joined the conversation.  "Even if we're not always here in Dyeland together, I think in some ways we always will be together.  And we'll always have the memories of the times we spent here.  Memories you captured so perfectly on your tree.  It's perfect Andrew.  It's like seeing our list of this past year's events come alive."

"I'm just touched you thought of us all even when you were away on assignments," Lady Beth mused.

"Of course we think of you when we're away!  Don't you ever think of us when you're away from Dyeland?" Adam, overhearing them, piped up.  He made an exaggerated puppy dog face.

Lady Beth shook her head.  "No, never."  Then she laughed.  "Of course, I do.  I'm sure we all do."

The entire party of guests had gathered around then and nodded solemnly. 

After a while Andrew sighed happily then looked concernedly at Lady JenniAnn.  "I am sorry you never got to finish your Christmas story since you were here with Lady Beth and me all day."

The woman shrugged, unconcerned. 

"Andrew and I can do a little performance as the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser if you want," Adam offered.  "Or we could just saw right down the middle of Andrew's living room, pour some water below it, and do that Charleston scene from 'It's a Wonderful Life.'"

Lady JenniAnn giggled and shook her head.  "For the sake of this gorgeous hardwood floor let's not.  Although... I wouldn't be entirely adverse to a little musical performance."

the other Dyelanders clapped, cheered and laughed as "Mr. White Christmas" and "Mr. Green Christmas" bickered and one-upped each other in song as Henry pretended to be a disgruntled Santa Claus. 

When the performance was over, they all sat down in the living room with mugs of cider, coffee, and hot chocolate.  For a moment, they were all quiet and simply enjoying each other's company and the festive atmosphere and the peace that had engulfed all of them after a difficult year.

At last, Lady JenniAnn spoke up.  "I am very grateful for that little performance our beloved AODs treated us to.  I suppose I am rather attached to tradition even if it is just festive parodies.  But I think this year, more than others, is our chance for a new beginning.  So I'd like to start a new tradition."

"And what might that be, JenniAnn?" Vincent asked.

"A toast.  In the name of all my friends," she answered.

"That sounds like a plan to me.  Go on, JenniAnn," Andrew encouraged.

"Okay...  May we make others smile and laugh even in the face of trouble as Adam does.  May our voices raise in joyful song as Tess' does.  May we speak the truth and may others be enlivened by our truth as they are by the truth Monica brings.  May we always be there to listen and offer comfort as Lady Beth is.  May we always delight in play as Duchess Bunny and Baroness Karen do.  May we always see the beauty and wonder in our Father's creation as Legolas does.  May we strive to help better and make secure the lives of others as Countess Jennifer does.  May we strive to always do and say the right thing as Nigel does.  May we always know when it's time to sit back, relax and enjoy the setting of the sun over a beautiful lake as Jess O. does.  May our words inspire and bring hope as Princess Yva's do.  May we, as Vincent is, always be brothers and sisters to those who feel lost and alone.  May we always feel joy at learning something new as Gloria does.  May we always be as ready to welcome new friends and new places as Henry is.  May we walk the path God has put us on, though sometimes difficult and sad, with hope and love in our hearts as Andrew does until the day we, at last, come Home.  And may we never, never think it's too late to right a wrong or rebuild a friendship.  This is the season of second chances.  May we welcome those second chances when they come to us and offer them freely to those who love us.  In these ways, may God bless us, every one."  Then, wiping at a tear, she finished and sat down.

Andrew let his tears fall freely.  For no reason we could tell, almost 7 years after he had come to Dyeland, nearly 11 years since these people had first welcomed the idea of a compassion, loving angel of death... they were still with him.  They were in his heart and he in theirs and all of them would forever be nestled safely in the Heart of God.



(Story Credits: Beyond the obvious influences [TBAA, Beauty and the Beast, and my friends on the JABB YG] credit must also go to the people behind "A Year With Out Santa Claus" who brought us the Heat Miser and Snow Miser.  And if you didn't catch it, LJA's "Andrew, I'll love you til the day I die" was a reference to the scene between young Mary and George Bailey in the soda shoppe in "It's a Wonderful Life" wherein the former tells the partially deaf latter "George Bailey, I'll love you 'til the day I die."  Finally, I couldn't resist a Dickensian Tiny Tim moment with LJA's final line.  Also, the entire idea for the theme of second chances came while I was reading "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol" quoted above.  I had the privilege of seeing Tom Mula perform it last night and it strengthened my resolve to go with that theme for this story. ~Jenni 12-24-06)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

JABB 209

(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page, with the exception of the background border, are from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions.  They are not being used to seek profit.  The background image is a photo from Jenni's Dyeland Christmas tree.)