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[whitespace] A Snowball in Hell

Snowball in Hell: A Christmas Story


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At 11:15 on the West Coast of Heaven, just before midnight on a clear Christmas Eve, one tiny angel--with her halo in her pocket and her wings folded down--was silently sneaking from Angel Town.

Snowball (her name) was the semi-youngest but rather the sweetest of all the young angels in Angel School. She was talented too, for an angel so young. Snowball, who with only a flick of her wings, could turn rocks to rhinos, and clouds into string, was really a kind- of-a sort-of-a whiz at miracles and wonders and all that other angel biz.

But, as she'd tell you, with knowledge empirical, in Heaven, you know, everything is a miracle. Wonders are given out free twice a day, as they say. So in spite of her spit-and-polish miracle skill, Snowball's wonders and marvels were . . . well . . . run-of-the-mill.

"Oh my" and "Oh dear," the angel thought. "I've simply got to get out of here."

With a smile, she added, "Even just for a little while," and she sneakily snuck from her five-rung bungalow, choosing late Christmas Eve, a time of sweet celebration, for the date of her little angelic vacation.

The copper-pennied streets were empty. The old Pearly Gates stood optimistically ajar, as most of Heaven's older host were off on holiday, visiting dusty old Earth in their annual way, with harps and hymns played in the air, and occasional miracles, here and there. For Earth was quite dingy, as everyone knows, and often needs the touch of angel toes.

So nobody noticed as Snowball fluttered right to the buttery edge of Heaven, and, with a clear swan dive that shredded the sky, she leaped, crying, "Heaven, for now, goodbye!"

Setting her course, unsteadily so, toward Earth, where she'd long longed to go, she laughed, 100 percent elated, as down through eternity Snowball skated. "I'll be back in half a flash," the little tumbling angel mumbled, earnestly adding, "Though Heaven's highly rated, I really just want to be appreciated."

Spinning and spiraling, cartwheeling and careening, through countless uncounted universes, Snowball plummeted. Rocketing past sun after sun, the little angel closed her eyes and--surprise! surprise! Tingling with mirth, Snowball--not noticing--fell right past Earth. Then, slowing, slowing, her eyes finally wide, Snowball saw--as she slowed to a glide, shaking her head--a glimmering world rising up, up ahead.

Not long after, with the grace of a gazelle, she made a perfect three-point landing in the middle of Hell.

"Ha!" Snowball shouted, skipping about. "Wow!" she sang out with an additional shout, as geysers of steam and alkali erupted dramatically, blasting the sky. She heard brass bells clanging from somewhere beneath, and the clear sound of wailing and gnashing of teeth. Frogs, in the thousands, were singing in Greek. Big gray buses zoomed by with a shriek. Overhead, flying horses--looking terribly thin--were ridden by men chasing cows out and in, as nearby a gentleman, looking quite ill, was pushing a boulder, with effort, uphill. Another fellow, not too far away--looking hungry and thirsty, in no mood to play--was perched in warm water, right up to his knees, surrounded by menacing apple trees.

Everywhere someone was sad or dejected, but Snowball stood happily, quite unaffected, sighing, "Earth needs me more than I ever expected."

Sliding the halo from her pocket, she placed it onto her angel brow. Then, leaping up lightly from her nice landing spot, she thought, "I only wish that it weren't so hot!"

She eyed the rock-pushing man on the hill. He shoved his stony burden almost to the top, she observed, and made a little "Yip!" as he lost his grip, and wearing a frown, watched the rock slipping back all the way down.

"Oh!" the man muttered, and "Drat!" and "Hey!" and "That must be the 50th time today." And suddenly, there in front of his nose, an amazing miraculous vision arose. Snowball, all wrapped in a ribbon of light, smiling with a certain non-hellish delight, crying, "Ho! Happy Christmas. Good tidings I bring," and then, and then, with a flap of her feathers, she pointed out, "Look!" for on top of the rock there had sprouted . . . one wing.

And then another.

Amazed, the man watched, thrilled and empty-handed, as the rock flew up to the top of the hill, where it landed.

"Take a break," she suggested, quite wisely. "It's Christmas Day, for goodness sake," and next, the angel turned her attention to the subject of her next little intervention.

"Happy Christmas," she sang to the man in the pool. "Is there anything I can do for you?" Baffled and blinking, the poor fellow stammered, "Well, let me think. I wouldn't mind something to eat and drink. But every time I reach for a snack, the water dries up and the trees all jump back."

"What a shame!" and "Oh, golly," did Snowball remark, "that just isn't right."

And then, with a spark of remarkable light, Snowball snapped her little fingers. From out of thin air, shimmering with a glimmer of heavenly glint, there appeared in the angel's hand . . . a mint.

"Open up wide," cried the angel so young, and placed the sweet upon his tongue.

"Oh my," the man suggested, and then, and then--as Snowball counted up to 10--as he mouthed the candy, so tiny and small, and felt it melt into nothing at all, he gave a small, "Hmmmmmm," and then he said, "Hey!," as all of his hunger and thirst went away. It was gone in a flash, it went out like a light; the sweet had deleted his appetite.

"Merry Christmas," said Snowball with obvious delight.

The little angel was just warming up. Literally so. "This terrible heat has got to go," she said. And, blinking two times, crying, "Tallyho!" she caused a heavenly breeze to blow. Then, up from the steaming soil she flew, looking for other good deeds to do, as all across the sulfurous, odoriferous landscape of Hell, the magic breeze touched the brows of all the angel's clientele.

Now racing as fast as she could fly, she rained down miracles from the sky. A Christmas tree there, and a string of lights here. "Hey, hey!" and 'Good cheer," were her welcome refrains, as she flew melting every last one of Hell's chains.

"Happy Christmas!" she hollered, then, "Yippee ki yi!" as she noticed those ghost riders up in the sky. Like a flash she flew up, and I can't tell you how, but she helped each cowboy catch his cow.

At last, after all the deeds she could do were done, Snowball smiled. "Gee, that was fun. It's getting late. It's time to fly." Then, up she sailed toward the early dawn sky, as the people of Hell blew her kisses, goodbye.

"Oh!" Snowball shouted, "Before I go, there's one last thing."

And it started to snow.

So she blasted to Heaven, where it was still early, and crept past the gates, still open, still pearly. Back at her five-rung bungalow, Snowball took the halo from her head, and crawled into her angel bed.

Then she smiled and sighed, and whispered, "Oh dear. I'll just have to do that every year."

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From the December 23-29, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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