Andrew sat on a couch near the fireplace,
camera, and smiled at the scene before him. It was chaos.
But beautiful chaos.
Laughing, Yva plopped down beside him. "Hard to believe these
Christmases have gotten even crazier! But I love them even
better. They make planning Christmas services seem downright
relaxing," she joked.
Andrew hugged her. "And they're beautiful services. You've
done a great job as a minister, Yva. But then I always knew you
The woman hugged him back. "You helped me find the courage to
that dream, Andrew. Thank you. I hope your own dreams come
The angel smiled as he took in the scene before him. "Every day,
Yva. Every day," he responded softly. But then he burst
into laughter as a little boy streaked across the room with half of a
Beth dashed after him. "Michael Turner St. John! Come back
to mommy. We just want one picture of you and your brother with
the other kids and Santa."
Mick grabbed his son just as he was about to careen into the Christmas
tree. "Whoa there, buddy." He deftly fixed the little boy's
outfit. "Don't you want to see Santa?"
Yva leaned nearer to Andrew. "I'm so glad Adam's been able to
keep that Santa gig. You know he loves it."
Andrew nodded. "And the kids do, too. Just maybe not so
much velvet suits and ties."
The two laughed as a stubborn Michael finally relented and took a seat
beside his brother, Joe.
"I think maybe I'll go entertain the kids with some carols while we
wait," Yva excused herself. "Poor Monica's been reading stories
for a while and probably needs to rest her voice."
Andrew watched as Rose settled her two children into the group while
JenniAnn did the same with her own and some young students. The
former approached him after her
children were situated.
Rose greeted the angel of death with a laugh. "Who would have
thought, so many
years after some of us first saw him playing Santa at that party supply
store, that Adam would still be at it?" she whispered.
Andrew smiled. "Oh, I think the Father knew after that first time
that Adam had fallen in love with the gig. I doubt He'll ever
take it away from him now. He'll still be wearing that red suit
when Landon's and Amelia's kids are ready for a visit to Santa."
"You think?" Rose asked, looking over at the children hopefully.
The angel of death nodded. "Yeah." His smile grew as Yva
led the children in "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" while Tess played along on
the piano. "I'm glad we still have this time together," he
commented, putting an arm around Rose's shoulders.
"Me too. I'm glad my family has a place in Dyeland. I
couldn't imagine raising the kids without this place being a part of
their childhood. After all, you all kind of helped raise
me. At least during the last couple years of my adolescence."
Andrew looked proudly at the young woman. "I think we did a
really great job," he complimented.
Rose smiled and hugged him.
"You better get over there. I think I hear sleigh bells," he
Rose grinned like a child herself then dashed back over to her husband
near their kids when they had their time with Santa.
A few moments later, amid the sound of
sleigh bells and accompanied by his loyal elves, Sparkles and Sprinkles
aka Shelby and Jacob, Santa entered the room. He was immediately
mobbed by excited children.
Andrew leapt up from the couch and began filming. He smiled as
each child met with Santa whose silver-blue eyes sparkled
with each 'I love you, too, Santa' that was bestowed on him. He
touched also by the looks of pride on his friends' faces as their
children and nieces and nephews settled onto Adam's lap for a
Once Santa had returned to the North Pole and Adam reappeared, feigning
disappointment for once again missing the toymaker as he did every
year, the decorating
party began. With his camera tucked away, Andrew gave himself a
few moments to stand back, study his friends, and thank God for the
great things He had done in their lives.
Adam, as was obvious, had maintained his seasonal stint as Santa Claus
as well as becoming a supervisor to other angels. His ready wit
mixed with his warm heart had guided several new angels of death
through the sometimes difficult early days of that gig.
Eli, too, had been entrusted with supervising duties in recent
years. But Andrew chuckled as he thought of how the angel of
death still managed to find time to comb Ronald's archives and find the
most embarrassing moments of his angelic career so he could leak them
Tess continued to work cases on her own and with an assortment of other
angels, sometimes stepping in as a supervisor when needed. The
number of her "angel babies" had grown. And yet there remained a
special spot in her heart for Andrew. When the effects of his
decision to age alongside his human friends had first become apparent,
Andrew had joked to her that one day it would seem silly for her to
call him, as his boyish looks faded, "Angel Boy." Tess had
adamantly shook her head, pulled him into one of those immense hugs he
so loved, and assured him "You'll always be my Angel Boy,
Andrew." And he knew it was true.
There was Monica, several years into her solo stint as a
supervising caseworker. By all accounts she was doing amazing
yet she had never again drifted away from him but had instead regularly
checked in with both him and Tess, making sure they knew that she
carried the lessons she'd learned from them with her on every
Yva, too, was delivering the message of God's love to others. And
very happily if her earlier conversation with Andrew was any
hint. She and Sir Sven had successfully bridged their Dyeland and
earthly lives. The angel of death knew it meant so much to
everyone, Nigel and Willy included, that they made a point to check in
no matter how busy.
As for Nigel, he was happily continuing his work as one of God's
messengers in Victorian England. However, the guardian angel had
become increasingly comfortable in the ever-changing modern world which
never ceased to amaze him.
Willy, too, had experienced some changes. He remained every bit
the hard-working, creative, contemplative man he'd always been.
But it seemed to Andrew that he had found peace with at least some of
the questions that had tendency to trouble him.
And then there was the St. John family... Andrew sighed as he
thought back on how tumultuous Mick's and Beth's path had been.
But in recent years their dreams had come true and they had two
sons to show for it.
Thinking of the St. John boys, Andrew's thoughts turned to the absentee
Josef who was the eldest' s namesake. His happily-ever-after
come. But the vampire was making the most of his long life.
It had become a testament to the love he still bore for his
Sarah. Josef's charity would soon be a decade old and its founder
had spent countless hours doing what he was doing at that moment,
freeing people from bondage and helping them to build new lives of
freedom and dignity.
Andrew chuckled as his thoughts drifted to the last of the Los Angeles
clan: Logan. His story had taken an interesting turn only the
week before when a worried Mick had burst into his basement and found a
note which simply read: "Proposed to Zelda. She said YES!!!
Took the cure. We're going to Las Vegas to get married by Obi
Wan!!!!! Be back after the new year. Live long (but
freakishly long) and prosper. -L."
And that had only be the most recent in a succession of romances.
Andrew beamed as Rose and her husband each lifted one of their children
so they could place their ornaments on higher branches. Then the
couple stepped back, embraced each other, and watched as the little
ones stood in awe of the tree. Andrew thought back on the
teenager he'd first met, the girl who had blushed as she'd once told
that if she ever had kids she's already chosen their names: Landon and
Amelia. Now her dreams were reality and their Uncle Andrew was
very glad for it.
There were the couples who had stood the test of time, too. Among
them were Sir Sven and Yva and Catherine and Vincent. Together
for nearly forty years, the Wellses' love for each other was evident to
lucky few who were able to glimpse them. It was a love that
Andrew knew strengthened and inspired their son and helped Vincent as
he led the Tunnel Council, promoting the values and utopic way of life
that his father had instilled in him.
The Council itself was now populated by some of the grown children and
young people who Andrew had first met. Owen, Amy, Hareton, Gary,
and Jessie now worked alongside Vincent and the older members but their
youth made their opinions no less valued. It was a happy,
peaceful time for everyone Below.
Andrew's attention turned to Vincent's godchild. Over the years
he had come to recognize that Catherine's and Vincent's great love had
struck JenniAnn to the core and helped her to, in time, fully embrace a
and a love that was far from standard. And so, several years
after their fateful meeting in the Fields of Gold, JenniAnn remained
devoted to him. And, in spite of that, she had twice become a
mother; giving Andrew his beloved niece and nephew: Annabel and Avi.
Andrew heard C.J. laugh, a most welcome noise. After years of
having to rush around, she had finally come to a peaceful, relaxing
place and was enjoying more time on Harmonic Hollow and
Vermillion. The angel knew they both relished their now more
frequent rides together and looked
forward to many more.
The clinking of dishes drew Andrew's gaze to Lady Beth. Years
after she first arrived in Dyeland, her delight in helping others and
sharing her talents with them continued to be evident. At that
very moment she was dishing up a plate for Henry who was leaving early
on an assignment, doing so with greater joy now that he knew he always
had friends to come back to.
And, as always, the entire community was enlivened and unconditionally
loved by an odd assortment of pet turkeys, cats, dogs, horses, rabbits,
This was the family that God had brought together and Andrew thanked
Him daily for it. Struck anew by the immense blessings
surrounding him, the angel lifted his eyes to the
rafters and uttered a simple but heartfelt "Thank You, Father."
Following his prayer, Andrew was joined by JenniAnn. He sighed
contentedly as she embraced
him. "It's been a wonderful party, Laja."
JenniAnn beamed up at him then noticed a few stray hairs and brushed
them into place behind his ear.
Andrew smiled sheepishly. "It's really graying, isn't it? I
mean I knew it was going to happen but... not this quickly. What
would that girl in
the Fields think of me now?" he teased.
She peered up at him, all seriousness. "'The soul of all that was
most dear to me is here-- here, with the worn face, and the grey
head,'" she murmured.
Andrew stared at her, recognizing the quotation and unable to place it
but intensely moved by its utterance. "Laja..."
"It doesn't seem like so long ago that it was another Christmas... that
year you first went all out with the lights..." She
laughed. "That year you hid in that box, too, come to think of
Adam was teasing you about your Dickensian view of the holiday.
I decided to insert a lil Dickens of my own this year. And it's
meant," JenniAnn vowed.
Andrew knew in the depths of his heart that it was. Whatever type
of love his friends had ever borne for him, it had continued over the
course of many years. Their love and the Father's was constantly
with him as he took on his assignments, continuing to bring people the
gift of eternity the Father had entrusted him with. The angel
the woman at his side then looked out at all the joyful faces that
surrounded him. Every inch of his being felt content.
A moment later, C.J. approached. "Uncle Andrew, I come as an
emissary from the toddler set. You're being ordered to read a
Andrew grinned as JenniAnn laughed and released him.
"What am I reading?" he asked as he settled down on the floor among the
children with the adults forming an outer circle.
"This," Avi responded, holding a familiar book out to him.
Andrew looked tenderly at his namesake as he accepted the familiar book
and began to read. "'There was once a velveteen rabbit..."
Outside, a delicate snow fell and blanketed the ground. It
collected around the lights covering Willowveil castle. The
effect was beautiful as the snow itself took on the color of the lights
beneath it. A dove settled on the windowsill and peered in at the
crowd gathered around the storyteller, cooing a benediction upon them
was smiling giddily as he
emerged from behind the bushes.
JenniAnn had her arm raised, ready to
pelt him but let the snowball
drop and ran to him. "Andrew, what's going on? You look...
Seeing JenniAnn abandon the fight and
dash to the angel of death; Yva,
Rose, Lady Beth, and C.J. also approached.
"What's the matter?" Rose asked with
Andrew shrugged, unable to wipe the
smile off his face. "I was
"What exactly do angels daydream
about?" Yva asked, amused by the idea.
"Love," Andrew answered simply,
pulling them into a group hug.
"Aww, come on now. Can't we have
something a little more specific
than that?" Lady Beth pressed with a grin.
Andrew considered. His vision
had been comprised of all the
dreams his friends had shared with him over the years and all the ones
he knew they treasured in their hearts even if they didn't say them out
loud. It was their happiness that had made his own future self so
happy. Still, he didn't want to reveal it all to them and have
them thinking he was pulling for them to make particular life choices
should their dreams change. Finally, he settled upon his
answer. "I daydreamed about another Christmas, several years from
now. And the most important thing about it... the thing that made
me happiest... was that we were all still celebrating together."
"Aww!" a chorus of female voices
Thus assured their friend was well and
knowing themselves to be easy targets if they remained still, the
five women parted from the angel of death and
rejoined the snowball fight. When they were ready to return
indoors, everyone joined together for caroling. After singing
several songs, the children were tucked into
their beds back in the Tunnels with visions of their visit with Santa
fresh in their
minds. Around 10:00, the adults gathered again in the
they moved chairs and tables to make room for dancing, JenniAnn put a
Andrew was struck by how perfectly the
lyrics matched his vision.
gather by the fire,
reminiscing by its light.
The kids will be up early
but it's hard to say goodnight.
To be with you.
To be with you.
I love this time of year.
It always brings me here,
to be with you."
The angel of death was not the only
one struck by the words. As
Christmas Eve wore on and the dancing began, each person thought of
their own ideal future. Ensconced in the cozy ballroom with so
many of those who were dear to them and had figured into their dreams,
they silently prayed to God that the futures they so desired would come
to pass and that they would never truly be parted nor face a Christmas
future without the love and friendship of the others.
Unseen by all, a dove appeared amid
the highest branches of their
Christmas tree, the tree that Andrew had come to see as a symbol of the
Father's love. The dove's presence was proof that, though the
Dyelanders' futures might not unfold exactly as they planned, they
would unfold as God planned. And it was His plan that the ragtag
family He had joined together would always remain exactly that for
every Christmas and every day to come no matter where the journey of
life took them.
references (holiday and otherwise... hopefully I didn't miss any):
"To Be With You" by Sara Groves, both the title and the closing lyrics
come from her beautiful song.
"Once Upon a Dream" from Disney's Sleeping Beauty
"All I Want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Carey
National Lampoon's Christmas
"Christmas Crackers" by Juliana Horatia Ewing
The Christmas Carol by
The Sound of Music
The Twilight Zone
"Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" by Virginia O'Hanlon and
Francis P. Church
The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams
It's a Wonderful Life
"Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clark Moore
"Jolly Old St. Nicholas"
Cricket on the Hearth
by Charles Dickens
Finally, another JABB Christmas tradition is that I make a donation in
the group's honor. Typically, I choose a charity that somehow
relates to the Christmas story. However, this year there were no
easy associations. (Alas, a time-traveling charity does not seem
to exist nor does a "Keep an AOD Happy, Buy Him Some Christmas Lights"
one.) So, since I used them as a source for "Safe" which was the
previous story and because this did contain a couple brief references
to those characters, I've made a donation to RAINN because they do
Merry Christmas and happy New Year!
(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page 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.)