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The Hendricksons (a Trouble-free Xmas)

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The Troubles end for good about a week before Christmas. It doesn't give the people of Haven much time to get into yjr xmas spirit, but they are adaptable people. Everyone wants to celebrate the curse over their town finally lifting. Of course, the end required many sacrfices, so the celebrations are tinted with grief. But for the end of 2011, the town is taking a few days to celebrate their survival.

Lizzie Hendrickson wakes up her dad excitedly on the morning of xmas eve.

“Dad!” she yells while jumping up and down by her dad's bed. “Wake up, it's Christmas! We're having a party today, right?” Dwight sits up in bed and Lizzie gives him a morning hug. Dwight squeezes her so tightly and closes his eyes. He missed her so much.

“It's more of a get-together, but yeah. McHugh, Vickie and Gloria are coming to help out later. You can help with Aaron. Maybe I'll get Nathan to make pancakes too.”

Lizzie gives her dad a suspicious look. “Pancakes aren't xmas food.”

Dwight shrugs, “It's all he knows how to make-. And they can be our xmas food. OK?”

Lizzie thinks for a moment before nodding, “OK, xmas pancakes it is.”

“Go get the decorations ready. Then I'll make breakfast, we'll get the tree.”

“Yay!” Lizzie runs out of the room, excited.

Dwight smiles. He gets up and dressed and makes some phonecalls to make sure everything is in order. The only one he can't get through to is Nathan, which is expected. He'll have to visit him at some point before the evening.

It has been snowing for the past few days, so Haven is getting a white xmas, at least for the holidays, it seems. They get a beautiful tree from the Teagues' land nearby and Lizzie takes her part in helping Dwight carry it back to his truck by holding the top of the tree off from the ground. When they arrive home with the tree, McHugh is already waiting for them, ready to start cooking.

They are decorating the tree when Vickie, Gloria and Aaron arrive. Lizzie loves Aaron, and helps him put up some decorations on the tree. Aaron is fascinated by all the lights. Vickie keeps the kids company while Gloria goes to the kitchen to keep McHugh company while he cooks. Rebecca and Dylan end up making a quick visit before leaving to visit relatives in Portland.

After the Rafferties leave, Dwight leaves too, to go meet Nathan. There are only a few decorations around town. Nothing like Haven usually is during December. However, the lights and decorations have increased steadily during the week, so Dwight is hopeful that Haven will recover.

Nathan has done nothing on his yard. It's not a surprise, considering everything he lost, but it is out of character. Garland told him Nathan loves xmas. Dwight hopes he can reawaken some xmas spirit in Nathan.

He knocks, and Nathan opens within a minute. Nathan is wearing a t-shirt and flannel pyjama pants and has a look of a man who either hasn't slept in a week or has done nothing but sleep. He hasn't shaved in a while and his eyes are bloodshot. Dwight takes a look behind him and sees fast food boxes, a few empty casserole containers. Nathan is not cleaning, but at least he is eating. Maybe actually feeling hunger helps him to not neglect himself like that during this time.

“It's xmas eve.”

Nathan rubs his eyes before burying his hand in his messy, messy hair.

"Already?" His voice is gruffier, like he really hasn't used it for a while.

"Yes. I'm having a get-together, and I promised Lizzie your pancakes."

Nathan just looks at Dwight for a moment, before nodding while rubbing the back of his neck.

"Yeah, OK. I'm almost done with her present, so... I'll come by in an hour or two."

"Fine. Happy to have you, Nathan." Dwight thinks a moment, and then gives Nathan hug. He's surprised but reciprocates quickly. "See you soon."

Dwight goes back home in time to get into the decorating cookies action. Everyone is making standard and some not so standard gingerbread cookies but all of them get colorful coatings. It is rather oddly freeing to do something as simple as that. Something so normal.

Nathan arrives as promised. He is actually dressed now, but he hasn't shaved yet. Baby steps. Lizzie saved up a person with a dress cookie for Nathan, who ends up giving her yellow hair and a blue dress. He ends up taking it home rather than eating it.

They eat and drink and have a very merry time. They talk about Christmases past and Christmases future. Vickie thinks of maybe leaving Haven, now that she can do art again. Gloria wants to travel again, once Aaron is bigger. Lizzie wants to stay in Haven, she loves it there, it's her home. Dwight feels the same way. McHugh volunteers as a babysitter for Aaron, and Gloria seriously considers it. Nathan is staying (possibly as the Chief, but he is not ready for that conversation yet).

While everyone else ends up leaving the presents under the tree, Nathan pulls Lizzie away during the goodbyes. He bends on one knee on the floor so that they are of equivalent height.

"Hey. I have another present for you under the tree but I wanted to give you something special already today. I'm sure your dad thinks it's OK. I'm a Finn, we celebrate on the 24th."

Lizzie gives him a big smile, "Thank you mister Nathan."

She opens the rectangular red paper. Inside it is a framed picture that resembles her.

"I did it by decoupage. You see, all the parts of this picture were done from different pieces of paper, like a mosaic. It's you."

Lizzie throws herself at Nathan's arms and gives him a tight hug. "Thank you, I really love it, mister Nathan."

Nathan hugs her back. "You're welcome, Lizzie."

***

After all the guests are gone, Dwight and Lizzie start their own xmas eve tradition: watch as many terrible xmas movie as they can find on tv until both of them fall asleep. They only make it to the beginning of a second one before both of them are asleep. It was a long day. Dwight wakes up to the end credits, and carries Lizzie back to her own bed. He kisses her forehead and Lizzie wakes up to that.

"Good night, Lizzie the Lionhearted."

"Good night, Dwight the Dauntless."

Dwight does a few more preparations for the morning before going to bed. Lizzie always wakes up early on xmas morning. They have a long day ahead of them.

The town has a long road ahead of them, but they will manage. They always do.