New Year’s Eve was the Big Do of the Year for the angels. Late that afternoon, a small angelic being peeped into his boss’ office. “Sir, sir, it’s time.”
Seymour Joyful, Angel in Charge of the Dead Prayer Office, looked up from the memorandum he was writing. “Oh, it’s time.”
A prayer found itself in the Dead Prayer Office if it had not been answered in thirty days. It wasn’t that prayers were ignored. It was simply that the Boss had his hands full most days with keeping the universe in order and dealing with the big stuff. So it might be thirty-one or thirty-two days for the smaller prayers. And since the internet came along, the Prayer Box was packed with spam
It was Seymour’s job to resurrect those prayers that were worthy. He marked them “worthy,” then shot them up to the Boss for immediate attention. Without Seymour, the bankruptcy percentage, along with divorces, wars and accidental deaths, would have gone up 1000%.
“Yes,” his assistant, Angel Second-class Dunbar Cheer, said, “we have to hurry. We don’t want to miss the Parade.”
Seymour scribbled his signature on the memorandum, then slipped it into the flask and released it into the interdepartmental air tube. He stood up and stretched, then slipped on his dark blue wings.
Seymour joined Dunbar in the hall and they hurried to catch the angel-vator.
“I can hardly wait,” Dunbar said, unable to conceal his excitement.
The vator began to move. While it moved, Seymour hummed a chorus or two of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and smiled.
Up up up the vator went, whooshing its way past the six hundred and seventeen floors. The doors slid open. Lights filled Seymour’s eyes with delight. Stars strung like ornaments washed the green grassy floor of the Heavenly Mall, emitting light the colors of a rainbow. Giant evergreens floated above the Mall, each trimmed with thousands of ornaments.
Seymour stepped out of the vator. The coolness of the grass massaged Seymour’s bare feet.
On the dais above the Mall, Gabriel conducted the Blessed Be Orchestra as the Praised Be Choir sang, “On the first day of Christmas, my true Lord gave to me a cup of ambrosia. On the second day of Christmas, my true Lord gave to me….”
The Parade was just kicking off. Archangel Michael rode his black steed, Battle, onto the grassy knoll. Hanging from his belt was the sword, Demon Slayer. Following him was his army dressed in fine angelic armor with their Purple Hearts pinned to their chest. They wore serious looks on their faces, denoting that they meant business.
Next came Archangel Raphael and his family of healers. Then the other archangels followed, marching in step with the music of the Orchestra. Then the members of the League of Guardian Angels. On this one night the LGA came in from the wild frontier of humanity while the Substitutes took their place and kept watch. At the end of the Parade came the Sunnies, the Seraphim and the Cherubim, whose faces were as bright as the sun.
As the Parade ended, angels joined other angels with the same name. Of all the Seymours in the Universe, there was only one Seymour who was an angel. Sure, there were hundreds of Sams and dozens of Steves and quite a few Dorothys. But only one Seymour. And all the Steves were standing around talking to all the other Steves about Steve kind of things. Things like how many angels can you stack on the head of a pin. While the Dorothys were discussing whether Kansas was a place they would like to call home. And who knew what the Sams were discussing. Even the Sams couldn’t keep up.
So Seymour found himself in a group of Joyfuls where Priscilla Joyful was giving out the latest news. “Did you hear?” Now angels do not gossip. Not one bit. But they do angel-issipping and what Seymour overheard was a major case of angel-issipping.
Prunella Joyful said, “I did not.”
“Well, you should have. And I am here to tell you, it’s a darn fool shame what Daphine and Shadrack did. Doing a Romeo and Juliet like they did. We’ve been warned time and time again against fraternization.”
“And here they go fraternizing all over the place. Nothing but trouble. That’s what that was. And the Boss took care of it right quick.” All the Joyfuls knew what that meant. The Romeo and Juliet were demoted and joined the human race.
Edgar Joyful said, “Darn sad. That’s what that is. Both were up for Angel First Class next year. All they had to do was keep their fluffy little wings to themselves and everything would have been a-okay. But no, it was wing-holding galore for those two.”
As this conversation continued, Seymour was admiring Millie Merry over in one of the Merry gatherings. She looked so angelic in her pink dress and rose-colored wings. She turned and smiled that extra-special smile she had given him for the last few End-of-the-Year Parties. The smile made his heart beat faster.
As the night progressed, the more Seymour Joyful and Millie Merry smiled at each other the more they wanted to smile at each other. They smiled at each other through the Harps’ a capella performance. They smiled at each other through the handing out of the bonuses. They smiled at each other through the inductions to the Angelic Hall of Fame.
With each toast of the cups of ambrosia, they smiled some more. And Edgar Joyful started taking notice. Finally he asked, “Are you okay, Seymour?”
Seymour was about to answer with an intoxicated “Yes” when he noticed something peculiar. On the balcony of the Tower overlooking the Mall, Old Hezekiah was leaning forward with his cat Katnip hanging onto his lap for dear life. Old Hezekiah’s eyes searched for something while his beard fell hundreds of feet, almost reaching the Mall floor. And his face was utterly in distress. But none of the others seemed to notice. Only Seymour.
Old Hezekiah was the oldest angel of them all. He had been around since the Big Bang of Creation. He was the last of the first generation of angels. He had guarded the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were booted out. And it was his job to drop the ball at the stroke of midnight.
Seymour wasn’t sure what to do. He knew that if something wasn’t done Old Hezekiah would fall out of the Tower and smash to pieces on the Heavenly Mall.
Then he decided. He raced to a place on the Mall that was empty of angels. He raised his wings. The wings flapped up and down. Seymour felt his feet in the air. He moved fast and arrived at the balcony and touched down.
“Old Hezekiah, what’s wrong?”
“I dropped the ball and I can’t see where it went.” The ball was the end of the year ball. If it wasn’t opened at the last moment of the year, the New Year would not begin. The old year would stay frozen in time until the ball was opened, its stuffing falling onto the Mall.
Seymour checked the floor around Old Hezekiah. Nothing. Then he flew back down to the Mall floor. Joined by other angels, they searched frantically. The clock said they had only ten minutes left and time would die if the ball wasn’t opened at the exact moment. But none found the ball.
Seymour was a Sherlock Holmes fan. Holmes was an obsession with him. He had read all the stories dozens of times. Just as he was about to give up, an invisible Holmes whispered in his ear, “Remember when you lose something, it is right where you put it.”
Seymour lifted his wings and flew up to the balcony. “Old Hezekiah, where did you last put the ball?”
Old Hezekiah thought for several minutes, then said, “I put it on my lap.”
“Then check your lap. Under Katnip.”
The ancient angel slid his hands under the cat. The cat did not move. The angel pulled the ball out. “This must be it.”
“It sure is,” Seymour said, taking a breath of relief.
“Well, what do you know?”
Then Old Hezekiah offered him the ball. The angel host below applauded.
“Tonight you will pull the pin and drop the ball.”
The clock struck the first of its twelve strokes. Seymour leaned over the balcony and pulled the pin that opened the ball. As the ball floated downward, snow fell out of it and onto the Mall below. And the angels danced.
You see, many of the angels seldom saw snow. Heaven was always green and paradisey. But once a year, at the end-of-the-year celebration at the first stroke of midnight, a ball was opened and there would be snow.
Old Hezekiah smiled and said, “Thank you.”
Seymour hurried downward to the Mall. He wanted his bare feet to step into the cold white flakes and feel alive just once the way humans felt alive. As his feet were upping and downing in the snow like a highland fling, he felt lips kiss his cheek. He stopped his dancing and turned. It was Millie Merry.
“You are my hero.” Her face was flushed red.
From the dais, Gabriel called out, “Seymour Joyful, join me up here.”
Seymour left Millie and headed up the stairs and joined Gabriel. “You are hero for all of us. You saved the New Year. The Boss has requested that I ask you what reward would you like.”
Seymour looked down at Mille smiling up at him. He spoke from his heart of hearts, “I would like for Millie Merry and I to become human beings.” Then hesitating, “That is if she will join me.”
Millie’s rose-colored wings flapped their delight and her lips said, “Of course, I will.”