"This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone.”
~~ Taylor Caldwell

Hi all,

Well, I'm trying my hardest to get the story done for Christmas so this is a short one!

I hope you're having a fun and not too stressful holiday season!

God bless,

A Christmas Q and A with Andrew

(Because who doesn't want to know Christmas trivia about Andrew?!?)

LJA: Let's start it off with an easy one!  What's your favorite Christmas carol?

Andrew:  Wow...  That's actually a tough one.  There's so many great ones.  "O Holy Night" has been a long time favorite but Belle's been singing her own rendition of "Away in a Manger" lately so that's pretty special to me now.

LJA:  Aww, yeah!  It's so precious.  We need to record that. 

Andrew:  Definitely.

LJA:  And your favorite Christmas tradition?

Andrew:  Hmm...  Again, we have so many great ones!  Wrapping presents for the kids with you and then watching them open them is pretty great.  I'm hoping Joshua visiting is a tradition...  If yes: that one.

LJA:  Same here... and I hope so.  ::dreamy sigh::  So, of the Christmastime assignments we saw on TBAA, which one was your favorite?

Andrew:  Gosh.  That's another tough one!  I think the case that inspired "The Violin Lesson."  It was the first Christmas assignment that I spent working directly with Monica and Tess.  There were definitely bumps... Settle down, Laja.  And a whole lot of tears... but I feel like we really made a difference in that family's life.

LJA:  I'm sure ya did.  And I just still don't understand why Tess...

Andrew:  It's in the past.  Deep breath.

LJA:  ::takes a deep breath::

Andrew:  Better now?

LJA:  Yes...  Okay, a hopefully easier one now.  Favorite Christmas cookie?

Andrew:  Anything with lots and lots of frosting.  Although Belle challenges even my appetite for frosting!  She puts a mountain on them!  So cute.

LJA:  Not sure if we should work with her on that or just let it go...

Andrew:  Let it go.  It's not like she's eating gobs of frosting.  She just likes playing with it.

LJA:  True!  So what's your earliest Christmas memory?

Andrew:  ::chuckles::  Well, Joshua being born.

LJA:  Specifics!

Andrew:  Okay then!  I knew the time was approaching but not the exact moment.  Suddenly, everything was very loud.  Like the pandemonium of a surprise party right before the guest of honor walks through the door.  Chattering and laughing and cheering and running around and dancing... and crying, too.  Then a baby's cry resounded through all of Heaven.  That was the only sound I could hear.  Suddenly, I was crying and just standing there in wonder.  The same voice I'd always heard was now in that cry...

LJA:  Oh...  That's lovely! 

Andrew:  It really, really was.  So what else ya got?

LJA:  Well, this one we definitely need to settle on!  Belle understands so much more now and so we gotta figure out the Santa thing.  How do you feel about that?

Andrew:  You mean whether or not we do the Santa Claus presents and tell her he's real and comes to the castle and everything?

LJA:  Yeah, exactly.

Andrew:  I think we should go with it.  For one, Adam would be pretty crushed if Belle wasn't into his Santa schtick. 

LJA:  Very true.

Andrew:  For another, the Santa Claus traditions are alive and well in the Tunnels.  One thing I will say is I don't think we should ever lie to Belle about Santa.  When she's older and asks if Santa's real, we answer honestly.  I don't think we should be making up stories about why she saw her presents in your closet or stuff like that.

LJA:  I agree.  And then we can tell her about St. Nicholas!

Andrew:  Exactly.  We can tell her about the generosity he inspired and how, through the generations, parents and others have carried that tradition of kindness on and, one day, we hope she can be Santa herself.

LJA:  When we're grandparents!

Andrew:  ::chuckles::  Well, yeah, maybe.  But she might also do it as an aunt or cousin.

LJA:  True.  I don't want to set the child up for angst.

Andrew:  Me neither...  Although I think our little elf would be a great mom someday... if she wants to be.

LJA:  Yep, if she wants to be.  Okay, next question...  What's your favorite Christmas movie that is NOT It's a Wonderful Life?

Andrew:  The Muppet Christmas Carol.  Great story in just about any form but that one's really fun... especially when you watch with kids.  Well, except for the Ghost of Christmas Future part.  That can get scary for them. 

LJA:  True...  Wasn't he Belle's latest excuse for crashing our bed?

Andrew:  Yep!  Although given she asked to watch it again the next day...  I think we were a little bit conned.

LJA:  ::giggling::  You think?  Oh, love, we were definitely conned.  But I don't exactly mind...

Andrew: Me neither.  So any more questions or do you want to go check in and see what stories Appa Vincent's reading to Belle?

LJA:  Let's go with stories, Vincent, and Belle.

Andrew: Sounds good to me!

Fun with Christmas Tropes

So back in JABB 432, I listed off some items from TVtropes.com that have appeared in Dyeland stories.  Same thing here, just with a focus on Christmasy tropes.

It's a Wonderful Plot- It's a Wonderful Life is one of the most oft-cited movies in the Dyeland stories but it actually inspired the plots of JABB It's a Wonderful Life (naturally) and "Love Came Down," briefly. 

Yet Another Christmas Carol
- Guilty of this one, too!  The very first Dyeland story was this.  And then I basically repeated myself.

Under the Mistletoe- Turns out even Maryam and Yosef observe this tradition per a flashback to Christmas 2014 in "Shadowlands."

Christmas Miracle- Big fan of this one!  Whether it's Catherine and Vincent finding Jacob in "Tidings of Comfort and Joy" or the entire Josef and Meri plot in "I'll Be Home for Christmas" or Andrew's healing and Max's delivery from near-death in "Home for Christmas," Dyeland characters tend to have big breakthroughs and life-changing blessings come their way at Christmastime.

Everyone is Christian at Christmas- In my defense, I inherited this from TBAA.  For the majority of the shows, the angels were very much non-denominational and non-religious.  If they knew the Trinity was real, you wouldn't know it.  But then the Christmas episodes would happen and whether it was Tess remembering Jesus' birth in "Fear Not!" (or at least how the wisemen were arranged at the time) or the rather overt Christian theology at the end of "The Christmas Gift," the angels suddenly seemed to be not exactly Christian (religion being a human thing) but definitely people who equated Jesus with God.  So I kept this up with the Dyeland stories with them wholeheartedly participating in Christmas Mass/services, singing religious songs, and, finally, with Joshua's arrival any subtlety went out the window.

Mall Santa- Dyeland has a very nice, innocent version of this.  Adam has an annual gig as a store Santa that he parlays into appearances at the Phoenix Inn and True Light as well as the annual Dyeland Christmas party.  If Adam finds this task annoying at points, he doesn't show it.  For him, it's a thrill. 

Mrs. Claus- And starting last year with "The Family Tree," Adam is joined by his perennial stage-wife, Kylie, as Mrs. Claus when he does appearances.

Over-the-Top Christmas Decorations- Andrew's been known to get really into outdoor lights.  The fact that the Willowveil Christmas tree is huge and used to be in a mall is probably a bit over-the-top.

The Three Wise Men
- This one actually appears in a Valentine's story, not a Christmas one.  Adam, Henry, and Eli come bearing gifts for baby Belle in "Promises of Someday."

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for all the hours of Christmas entertainment he's provided.  From the movies to the TBAA episodes to all of the stories that followed, he's a big part of my Christmas traditions!

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(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.)