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Christmas Eve and Other Stories

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It all started one December night. The snow gently fell from the sky as the angels looked down from the heavens. It seemed everything was perfect with this night.

Except for one thing.

An angel zoomed through the skies whirring past stars and diving in and out of clouds on his way to see his Lord. The frigid winter air blasted his face, but after so many winters of soaring through the skies, he had grown used to it. Almost to his destination, the angel slowed his flight, coming to a soft landing upon a doorstep of sky before entering the large cathedral.

"I was told you wanted to see me." He spoke, stepping cautiously, but with authority, through the entrance.

"Please, come closer." A warm voice answered, the door closing behind the angel, who approached the figure standing at the very end of the pews. "Do you know why I called you here?"

"I'm afraid not." The angel responded, hands hanging limply at his sides.

"The human race." The being responded, looking down upon the angel with a sad gleam in his eye. "I believe they have lost faith."

This caused the angel to raise an eyebrow. Surely no one could've lost that much faith could they? Why, so many people seemed pleased with Christmas. "What causes you to believe this, my lord?"

"They believe that the 25th is a day to recieve. A day to get things from others." The Lord answered sternly as he looked over at the glass orb that enabled him to gaze upon Earth. "They've lost their belief in giving."

Now this confused the angel. Why, if people were recieving so much, that must surely mean people were giving, right? Though it was clear to see what his lord meant. "And what do you wish for me to do about this?"

It took the being a bit to think upon what could be done. After a long break of silence, he finally answered. "I want you to descend into their world and find me something that proves me wrong." He seemed rather proud of his idea. "Something no human can touch, but angels such as yourself can hold tenderly in their arms."

The angel didn't quite understand his lord's words, but nodded in agreement. Surely he would know when he found it. "I understand. When do you want me to descend."

"Tonight." Was the only answer he recieved before his lord had vanished, leaving only an empty cathedral and an orb looking over what humans called New York City.

--

He soared and soared and flew until it felt like his wings would fall off his back and his feathers would become snow before he reached his point of descension. A church. Why, it was only the most fitting of places to descend.

And it was then that he heard something. A sound like no other. And he was drawn toward this sound. But as he looked towards the Earth for the source, he could feel himself descending. And he was! Rapidly at first, but then his pace slowed as he neared the doorstep before he landed gently.

Not only were his surroundings different, but his appearance as well. For now, the angel, who once would tower over humans with a wingspan as large as a house, was a human child.

And so he began his search.

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Now, from inside this church, the angel, now child, heard a voice telling a story. One that wasn't all that strange to him. In fact, as he leaned into the open door to open, he recognized it as the story of the birth of Christ. And, consumed by curiosity, he stepped in.

Now he wasn't expecting really anything from this church, but as soon as he stepped in, he could tell that, despite what the exterior might lead someone to believe, the dusty smell gave away the temple's age. However, that didn't stop him, but rather drew him in more. The city lights filtered in through the stained glass windows, illuminating a dark skinned man with gray hair and a face that showed the wisdom of the years he had lived.

"It was then that the three wise men grabbed their gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense and headed off to pay their dues to the newborn king." The narrator spoke, his voice echoing throughout the pews and falling upon the ears of listening children of various ages, including the angel himself. Not only was he interested, no, that term was too light, rather, the child was enraptured by the way this man spoke. And it was clear that the other children felt the same, as they all were leaning slightly forward with a sparkle of interest in their eyes as though they wished the tale would never end.

Before he knew it, the child had found himself sitting among the front row of the others, eyes just as wide. The narrator soon noticed the child, and gave him a warm grin before returning to his story.

It was only when the tale was done, did the child bid farewell to the others and return to his quest. True, he would've liked if the sound that he had heard was the narrator, but that wasn't it. Though the tale was conveyed with such power, such emotion, that it would seem to capture all who heard, that wasn't a profound enough example for the angel. And so he continued on, in search of his own Star to Follow.

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As he wandered closer to the city, the child came across a toy store. This toy store didn't appear to be anything extraordinary, if anything, it looked rather run down, and it blend in with the rest of the stores. However, what stood out to the child, was a rather large nutcracker standing in the window of the shop. And well, he couldn't help but look in!

When he peered into the shop, cupping his hands around his eyes in an attempt to see through the frost, he saw the shop owner just closing things up.

And after a few moments of spying, the shopkeeper saw him too. However, instead of turning and finishing closing the shop for the night, he smiled and leaned back behind the counter to flip a switch.

Before the child knew it, the entire shop had come to life! And the nutcracker that had initially drawn him to the shop, was now opening and closing his mouth. Though, there was no sound. However, that didn't stop him from watching in awe as remote control airplanes seemed to fly of their own accord, dolls danced, and music boxes sang their muffled tunes through the glass.

However long it seemed to the child, eventually the fun had to come to an end as all the commotion died down with a wave of the shopkeepers hand. And, before the child pulled away from the glass, the man spoke a silent "Merry Christmas." To which, the child replied the same.

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The snow continued to fall on this cold December night as the now-human angel continued his search for what his lord had asked him at the beginning of the night. As he journeyed through the large city, he had already found a few things that showed that humankind still believed, but they weren't what he was asked for.

No, he knew that he had to keep searching, that he would know what he was looking for when he found it.

And it was when he thought this, that he saw a young mother with her child in a large park. So, like any curious child would do, he of course approached them. The mother, upon seeing this strange child approached her, rather than turning her head, offered her hand.

"Are you cold?" She had asked him in a gentle, caring voice. True, the child had grown cold in the winter's night, so he nodded.

"Yes ma'am. It's a rather chilly night." He answered, taking her hand and looking up at her with wide eyes. It was then that the woman withdrew her hand back to the child in her arms before extending the child to him.

"Please hold onto him for just a moment." And the child obliged, taking the baby into his arms. The infant was fast asleep in the cold weather, as if, because of the blanket wrapped around him, the winter night didn't exist.

When he looked up, the woman had taken off her jacket, offering it to the child. "I'm just about to head home, and you look like you need this more than I do." She explained, wrapping it around him before taking the child back into her own arms. "Please, do stay safe." The mother told the boy, giving him a warm hug before hurrying off into the night.

In his immediate thoughts, the child didn't know what to do. Some strange woman that had never seen him before in either of their lives had just helped him, giving the child her winter coat purely for the fact that he looked cold. It was becoming increasingly clear that people had more faith than he had first anticipated when he first descended.

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His mind immediately tore from the woman he had just met when he heard a musician pick up his bow and begin playing a song. It sounded like he wasn't too far away either. So he ran to the source, a smile on his face forming when he felt the familiar rush of cold air on his face. Though, his destination wasn't somewhere he quite expected

This time he was on a street corner in the big city, and a man was playing a cello on the street. What he was playing sounded familiar, as he had heard it numerous times in different places through his journey in the city. The sight was most certainly welcome to the child, as he approached the instrument playing man to get a closer listen.

When he was able to hear the music more clearly, he was amazed by how well this man knew the song without anything but his own memory to tell him what to play. It was magical watching someone play such a song on an instrument. Truly, he had never heard anything like it before.

And as the cellist played, more people gathered round, tossing change into his instrument case. Eventually, coins turned into bills, bills turned into people begging to hear another song. And before the child knew it, people were paying for him to play various Christmas carols!

Though the child would have loved to stay, the night was growing late, and he had to finish his mission before the night was through. And so he wandered back into the crowds of New York City.

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While he wandered through the big city, the child stumbled upon a man on an empty street corner who looked, rather misshapen. His coat was pulled tight around his body as he held a single wrapped box in his hand that he held as though, if he were to let go, whatever was inside would be irrepairably damaged.

As the snow fell around him, the man continued his walk to his destination, as though he had a quest of his own to attend to. And it would be right to say so, as the present in the box was none other than an ornament for his only daughter back home. He truged through the snow with such determination, that it appeared to the child that nothing would be able to stop him.

And as he got closer to his destination, a sad face grew on the man's features. For just that night, his daughter, the one he had bought the ornament for, had ran away. This was also his reason for being out, for he wanted to find his child and bring her back home. What he did to cause such a thing was unknown to him. Sure, he didn't have much, but what they did have seemed to be fine.

The single father let out a sigh that fogged in the chilly winter air as he turned the doorknob to enter his home, immediately removing his coat and putting it on the hanger at the door next to the empty one that would usually hold his daughter's favorite fur coat.

What concerned him the most wasn't just the fact that his child had gone missing, it was a combination of things that came with. The night was cold, and in the big city, almost anything could happen.

And then, the man began to pray.

He fell to his knees on the carpet of his home, hands clasped together and his eyes closed in thought. "God, if you're listening, please hear my humble request. My daughter has gone missing this Christmas Eve, and I only wish for her to return home safely and unharmed. If she can't return then please. Protect her from harm, shelter her gently until she finds her way back to you. Amen."

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The child continued to wander through the city, eventually leaving the tall skyscrapers that seemed to pierce the sky and the crowds of people before winding up on a quiet side street with very few folk.

One of these people, was a hobo. His clothes were very ragged, and his shirt had multiple holes. It was clear to the child that this man was desperately in need of warmth, even if he couldn't find shelter for the night. So, with his hands in his pockets, the child approached the hobo.

"Excuse me sir," he spoke, lightly tapping the man's shoulder, "are you cold?"

This startled the man, though he looked down at the child nonetheless. "Yes, it's a cold night. Though shouldn't you be back home?" He chuckled, ruffling the child's hair.

"Well, on this night, I think home is wherever you make it." The child responded simply, as though he had thought this all his life.

This caused the man to laugh once more. "You're a very smart kid, you know?" He cracked a smile, though his eyes remained sad. It was then that the child remembered what he originally planned to do, and he took off the jacket that the woman had given him back in the large park.

"Here, take this." The child held out the jacket to the poor man, who hesitantly took it.

"Now now, I don't need this, you'll catch a cold." He tried to answer. But it was too late, the child was nowhere in sight. Puzzled, he put the jacket on, pleased to find that it wasn't too small, and had been kept warm by the previous wearer. After much contemplation, the man decided to go to the one place he knew he could find shelter, an old bar in the outskirts of the city, not too far from where he was now.

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The child soon ran into someone else, a girl who looked to be not a day over 16 who stood in the middle of a sidewalk by a payphone. It was clear by her exasperated face and coins in her hand that she had tried to get it to work, but to no avail. With her fur coat tugged around her body and hood covering her brown hair, she leaned against the payphone, letting out a breath that quickly fogged against the icy air.

When he approached her, she looked down at him without saying a word. "Ma'am, are you lost?" The child asked, his head slightly tilted.

"I guess you could say so." The girl let out another, drawn out breath. "I'm just trying to get home." She looked down at the child. "What about you, are you lost, too?"

He just shook his head in response, eyes looking around at the surroundings. True, he didn't quite know where he was, but that didn't mean that he was lost. Rather, he knew exactly where he was going as well as what he was doing.

"Well then," The girl spoke, snapping the child from his thoughts, "I guess I wouldn't mind some company." She smiled down at him, face reddened from the cold air. The child smiled back, looking around at the surroundings once more for any place he could get help. It was clear that the girl wanted to get to her home, and he was determined to help her.

"Hold on." The child spoke, running across the street to a bar.

"What are you doing?" The girl's eyes widened at the kid's sheer courage. Letting out a sigh, she looked at the neon light hanging in the window of the bar. "It's no shooting star, but it'll have to do." She sighed, closing her eyes and folding her arms across her chest.

"I wish I could find my way home."

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As the child stepped into the old bar, he instantly smelled the cigarette smoke looming in the air with a light tinge of alcohol from where the bartender stood. However, this didn't seem to faze the child, as he wandered over to the counter. "Excuse me, sir?" He spoke, standing on his tiptoes to be able to see over the bar.

The bartender, surprised at first, looked down at the child, his eyes widened. "What is it, kid?" He asked, an eyebrow raised in suspicion.

"Just outside your door, there's a girl who can't get home." The child answered, pointing out the front window at the girl by the phone. The bartender looked up from the child, gazing through the smoke, haze, and ice on the window at that corner streetlight where he too saw the girl by the broken payphone.

He turned back to the child and let out a sigh. "Listen, not that I really care, but how would you know this?" The bartender asked, leaning on the counter.

The child looked around at the bar, a small smile on his face. "I noticed that, if one could be home, they'd be already there." He answered matter-of-factly.

The bartender let out a sigh, shaking his head. "Can't compete with that, kid." He spoke, reaching down into the cash box behind the bar before opening the gate and exiting it. "Lead the way."

And so he did. They both exited the bar, the cold wind blowing on their faces as they left the warm shelter.

Though many stayed back in the bar, the very same hobo that had been given the child's coat stood from his spot, walking over to the large front window to watch the events unfold in front of him.

When the bartender had gotten to the girl, he gave her a warm smile. "So this kid here tells me you're lookin' for a way back home." He spoke, raising an eyebrow. The girl, though surprised, nodded in response. "Well then," the bartender's smile grew as he withdrew the money from his pocket, "there should be a cab coming any time now, where do you ned to get to?"

"J.F.K," she responded, "sir, you don't have to do this."

"It's Christmas Eve." Was his only response. If he wanted to say anything else it was cut short by a yellow taxi approaching and him holding his hand out to hail it. "Get in." He told her, opening the door. She quickly obeyed, sitting in the back seat of the yellow car.

"Where can I take you tonight?" The driver asked, looking behind at the girl.

Before she could speak, the bartender answered. "J.F.K, please." He said, handing the money to the girl and beginning to close the door. "Oh and, by the way. Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas to you too, sir. And thank you." The girl smiled gratefully, a tear in her eye. The door quickly closed and the taxi sped off into the night.

Now the hobo was surprised at this sight, as he had never known this bartender to be kind to kids, but it was a pleasant surprise. However, what he had noticed other than the money being gone, was that the child had, once again, mysteriously vanished.

And the bartender was just noticing this too. No matter how hard he looked for the child, the only thing he saw was just the wind and the snow that seemed to waltz through the air. So, deciding that searching for the child wouldn't be worth his time, he walked back inside the bar, a different air about him.

"Tonight, the drinks are on the house!" He shouted as soon as the door closed behind him. The entire bar erupted in cheers, including the hobo with the coat.

Now, the cynics might say that this was just some neighborhood kid who wandered in on some homeless bums in the world where they hid. But they weren't there, so they couldn't have seen how the girl wished upon a neon star that Christmas Eve.

That night, no one went home. Because on that one night of all nights, they were already there.

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It was then that the child knew. He had already traveled halfway across the big city again on his way back to the church. For now, he had figured out what his lord asked for. With a grin on his face as he reached the old temple, he could hear the choir singing. Their song echoing through the night made his feet feel light as he grew nearer.

When that girl had wished upon that neon light, when the woman gave him her coat that he, in turn, gave to the hobo. It was very clear to see what the child had to take back to his lord. As the clock drew closer to midnight, he crept into the building, sitting in the pews with an older man.

"Cold night, isn't it?" The stranger spoke, just barely loud enough for the child to hear.

"Yes sir, but maybe not as cold as some might think." The child smiled, watching the choir sing and closing his eyes. He could feel himself becoming an angel again, if not very slowly. "Merry Christmas." He spoke when he felt close to returning to his normal self.

The man was taken slightly aback, if not in a good way. "Merry Christmas to you!" He grinned in response, waving as the angel stood from his place in the pews and ascended.

For now, he had only one thing to do. After all, he had a promise to keep.

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The angel began his ascent, flying back over New York before taking the gift that he knew would please his lord. In his arms was something that could only be described as the glow of a light with the heart of a song. Though it was so much more than that. It was the tear of a child where they had never belonged. No. It was the wish that the girl had made on the old neon light.

With a smile on his face, he rocketed back up through the clouds, spinning and diving in pure glee as he neared the heavens. Truly nothing could be better to show his Lord than this.

When he had returned to the heavens, he broke out into a sprint towards the cathedral where his Lord was waiting, clutching the sacred gift in his arms tightly as though dropping it would send it back to Earth. His sprint didn't stop when he got to the cathedral either, as he ran up the steps before slowing when he got to the doors.

Once again, he stepped inside to see his Lord waiting for him. "You've returned," the lord smiled down at the angel, "and I see you've brought something?"

The angel nodded, uncovering what was in his arms. "My lord, if there was anything I found in my time amongst the humans, it's that they most certainly still have faith." He spoke, holding out the wish.

Smiling, the lord took the wish in his hands. "You did very well. Each person you met on your quest showed true belief in this day. Their hearts were truly pure and good, even if they didn't appear it. Not only did they do well, but your helping others has shown to me your own belief."

The being gave another smile as he stepped out of the cathedral, holding his arms above his head. "Merry Christmas to all!" His voice boomed throughout the land, echoing in every alleyway, across every street, past neighborhoods, and even in that old city bar.

And it was in that night, that everything was truly at peace.

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The girl stared out the window at the passing city, a smile growing on her face the more she traveled. Even when they got stopped by traffic, the expression stayed. She was finally on her way back home.

The cab driver decided to break the silence. "So, you got any family you're visiting for the holiday?" He asked, looking in his rearview mirror.

Her gaze was drawn away from the outside scenery when he asked that question. "Yeah, that's where I'm headed now." She answered.

"I'm glad, y'see, not everyone is lucky enough to have family such as yourself." The driver let out a sigh, pulling into their destination. "Here you are."

"How much for the ride?" The girl asked, remembering the money that the bartender had given her back on the one street.

"You know, because it's Christmas," the driver reached to the box that had the numbers for the drive on it, hitting the clear button, "it's free." The girl's eyes immediately widened, and a large smile spread on her face as she exited the car.

"Merry Christmas and happy holidays! Thank you for the ride!" She waved as the taxi drove off.

However, before she could turn and walk up to the porch, she saw that her dad had already come out, tears in his eyes and a smile on his face as he ran to embrace his daughter. "I'm so glad you're back." He whispered, hugging his daughter. It felt to him as though, if he ever let go, she'd be gone again in the blink of an eye.

"Dad, let's get inside." She rolled her eyes. The night was cold and she wanted nothing more than to go back inside her house and warm up. Her father nodded and, together, they walked back inside.

When she stepped in, the girl could immediately smell that her dad had been cooking Christmas dinner. The tree had been set up, and a fire was crackling in the background. To her, the scene was nothing short of perfect.

--

The angel stepped up to the orb in the cathedral, watching the entire scene unfold from the heavens. When he was satisfied that the girl was safe, he stepped out of the cathedral and descended once more.

This time, he took the form of a man in his late 20s, though he landed in front of the same church. Stepping inside, he sat in the pews, listening to the choir sing until he had fallen asleep on the pews.

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Though this story has ended, the night has just begun. And what's a good Christmas, with out a little fun? So tonight as you lay comfortable in your beds, dreaming of tomorrows events, remember the spirit of the seasons, as well as your family and friends.

So, as one final line to send you all on your ways.

Merry Christmas!