Wild Fire's Gift to Dream Valley
written by Salaries

Author's dedication: I dedicate this story to Tabby and Sugarberry for their wonderful Christmas stories that inspired Wild Fire's Gift to Dream Valley, and I hope that the spirit and heart that you two put into your stories that gives them so much life will always be strong and never fade away.

After Thanksgiving, Wild Fire started noticing a change in Dream Valley as she gazed at the colored lights, sphere-shaped objects, and iridescent tinsel that covered the town as she was walking to and from school with her best friend, Baby Daffodil. Eventually Wild Fire questioned her friend, "Why are all the ponies hanging all these things in Dream Valley?"

Baby Daffodil looked at her friend with a puzzle expression. "Don't you know what Christmas decorations are?"

Wild Fire gave her friend a blank look. "What is Christmas?"

Baby Daffodil's eyes widened and her mouth gaped open. "Haven't you celebrated Christmas before?"

Wild Fire looked at her friend's stunned expression and tried to think of an answer that would not get her in trouble with her parents, like when she had lied about having a dead grandfather. "Where we came from, they did not celebrate Christmas," Wild Fire finally said.

Hearing this, Baby Daffodil felt sorry for Wild Fire, who had never had a Christmas while growing up. "I feel so bad that you never had the chance to experience the joy of Christmas!" She laid her right front hoof on Wild Fire's shoulder.

"That's okay, Baby Daffodil; it doesn't bother me that I never had a Christmas, so don't worry about it," Wild Fire said, hoping that Baby Daffodil would just forget about it.

"If that's what you want, Wild Fire," Baby Daffodil said with a sigh, putting her hoof back on the ground.

The two fillies reached their respective houses and said their farewells. When baby Daffodil got inside, she saw her mother tidying up the house. As she set her backpack down, she went towards her mother. Mother Daffodil looked up. "How was your day, sweetheart?"

"It was okay," Baby Daffodil said with a frown on her face.

"By the look of you, I would say that you have a problem." Mother Daffodil held her daughter's head in her hoof and looked into her eyes. "Would you like to talk about it, honey?"

Baby Daffodil was silent for a few minutes, and then started to speak. "Mother, if you knew someone who never experienced the joy of Christmas, what would you do?"

On hearing this question, Mother Daffodil sat on the couch and placed her daughter next to her. "Well, honey, that all depends on that pony's religious beliefs; some ponies have different religious beliefs from ourselves and do not celebrate Christmas like we do."

"Well, how do I find out if this pony's religious beliefs are the same as ours?"

"Just go up to your friend and ask politely what religion their family is the next time you two are together." Mother Daffodil placed her front hoof on Baby Daffodil's leg and gave a gentle pat. "Now, go upstairs and get cleaned up for dinner, sweetheart."

"Yes, ma'am!" Baby Daffodil slid off the couch and went upstairs.

Mother Daffodil watched her and wondered if the pony Baby Daffodil was worried about could be Wild Fire, knowing how close the two fillies were now. Mother Daffodil also got up and went to make dinner.

The next day as Wild Fire and Baby Daffodil were going to school, Baby Daffodil thought to herself of what her mother had told her about different religious beliefs and wondered if her friends had different beliefs than herself.

All during school, Baby Daffodil puzzled over how she would approach Wild Fire on the subject. By the time she felt comfortable bringing it up, they were heading home from school. "Wild Fire, may I ask you a question?"

Wild Fire stopped walking and looked at her friend. "This doesn't have anything to do with Christmas, does it?"

"Not directly," Baby Daffodil said with a pleading look on her face, making Wild Fire roll her eyes toward the sky and think to herself, Why me?

However, she told her friend in a cool but pleasant voice, "What do you want to ask me?"

Baby Daffodil paused to put her thoughts in order so that she would not say anything offensive. "I was wondering what church you go to on Sundays?"

"What is a church?" Wild Fire asked with a look of puzzlement on her face.

Baby Daffodil looked at her friend with a surprised expression on her face, which made Wild Fire wish that she had never opened her mouth. "You have never been to a church?" Baby Daffodil asked in disbelief.

Wild Fire, wanting to get off the subject, told her friend, "I may have gone to a church when I was very little and just don't remember."

"Then do you think I could ask your parents what church you have gone to?" Baby Daffodil asked.

Seeing that Baby Daffodil would not stop bugging her about the topic, Wild Fire decided to give in. "Let me talk to my parents and I will tell you what they say tomorrow. Okay?"

Baby Daffodil thought it over and replied, "Okay." Then they resumed their walk.

"How am I going to explain this church thing to Mom and Dad and not sound like I got myself in a mess again?" Wild Fire berated herself when she got home and had separated from Baby Daffodil. She chided herself for being too inquisitive and ever asking about Christmas; she should learn to keep her mouth shut around mortals, even if the mortal was her best friend.

When Wild Fire was finally ready to face her parents, she went to the living room where her father was reading the paper and her mother was just coming in from the kitchen. Wild Fire sat down on the couch, and Salaries looked up at her. "Aren't you supposed to be grounded in your room for two weeks, young lady?"

"Yes, sir, but I have a little problem I need your help on."

As Devilin heard this, she walked up to the couch and sat next to her daughter. "And what type of trouble is it that you're in?"

Wild Fire saw her parents staring at her and started fidgeting to find the right words to say. "Well, I got into a little discussion with Baby Daffodil about all those decorations covering the city, and she wants to know what kind of church we go to." Devilin herself looked a little puzzled at this as well as Wild Fire, but Salaries smiled at the two females.

"A church is a place that the ponies go to praise the Great Creator," Salaries explained.

Wild Fire was still a little puzzled. "Who is this Great Creator?"

Salaries and Devilin looked at their daughter with a loving smile, and Salaries decided to tell his daughter about their life before they lived with the mortals. "You see, Wild Fire, before you were born and we came to live with these ponies, your mother and I lived with the Great Creator, me on the side of good and your mother on the side of evil. We were always in battle, keeping each other from being the dominant force. Your mother and I met in one of these battles; we were both ready to destroy each other, but as we stood and stared at each other something within us- be it love, the Great Creator, or just being unsure- kept us from wanting to hurt each other. Other battles kept us busy, but the thoughts and feelings we had for each other grew, until we could no longer ignore them.

"We knew that the consequence would be for one of pure good and one of pure evil to consummate their love for each other. We did not care as long as we were together; and when your mother gave birth to you nothing in the universe could hold back the joy I felt. However, our joy was not to last as the other spirits got suspicious of our actions and found out about your birth. They were prepared to destroy your mother, you, and me. If it wasn't for the intervention of the Great Creator, we would not be here talking right now; instead of having us destroyed, He banished us to the mortal world, where we must live and act like mortals ourselves."

As Salaries finished his story, his daughter looked at him and asked, "You are not going to want me to tell Baby Daffodil that story when she asks me what church I go to, are you?"

"No, of course not; you just tell her that we are Catholic and with our traveling and our settling in Dream Valley, we never had time for a proper Christmas nor going to church on a regular basis." Now that Salaries was finished, Devilin went back to the kitchen to prepare dinner and Wild Fire went upstairs to her room for her two weeks of being grounded.

The next day, the two fillies headed to school and Baby Daffodil asked Wild Fire, "So did your patents tell you what church you go to?"

Wild Fire recalled what her father had told her to tell Baby Daffodil concerning their religion, minus the family story, and gave the information to her friend word-for-word from what Salaries had said.

After hearing her friend and finding out why she had not known her religion or what Christmas was, Baby Daffodil felt sorry for Wild Fire and decided to ask her parents after school what could be done to make this Christmas a special one for Wild Fire, but she wanted any plans kept secret. She simply looked at her friend with a smile and said, "I am glad that you and I go to the same church and that your parents did not completely forsake Christmas."

As Baby Daffodil finished talking, Wild Fire thought that the subject was now behind them and gave her friend a smile of relief.

All during school, Baby Daffodil made sure that she did not do or say anything that would reveal her plans to Wild Fire. After school, the fillies walked to their neighborhood and parted ways after saying goodbye. Baby Daffodil, upon going inside her house, sought out her parents in the kitchen.

Her parents gave her a friendly greeting. "Hi there, sweetheart, how was your day?"

When Baby Daffodil took her seat, she began to tell her mother and father about Wild Fire's religion; Ranger and Daffodil also began to feel sorry for their daughter's friend as they heard the story. As Baby Daffodil finished, she asked them, "Isn't there something we can do to make this Christmas something special for them?" She looked up at them with a pleading look on her face.

Mother Daffodil thought to herself while looking at her daughter and then her husband. "Ranger, do you think that you could get some of your buddies to help you get a Christmas tree from the Dark Forest?"

"After I tell them why we need the tree, they will be more than happy to help," Ranger said with confidence.

"That's good, and I will go and call the mares around town; I know they will donate some Christmas decorations when I tell them what the purpose is," Daffodil continued.

Baby Daffodil, feeling left out, asked, "What about me?"

"Keep your friend and her family busy and make sure they don't find out what we are doing before we are ready with the surprise," Mother Daffodil planned.

The next morning, Ranger, Daffodil, and Baby Daffodil sat down to breakfast together. "Does everyone know what to do?" Daffodil asked.

"I am going to get my friends to help us get a Christmas tree," Ranger replied.

"And I'm going to keep Wild Fire and her family busy so they don't find out what we're up to!" Baby Daffodil added.

"All right now, then let Project Christmas Surprise begin!" As Mother Daffodil finished her speech, all three slapped their front hooves together and went to their separate duties. While Daffodil was calling her friends for help, Ranger was asking his friends at work, and Baby Daffodil kept Wild Fire busy.

When the three ponies gathered back at the house, Mother Daffodil asked, "How did everything go with you two?"

Ranger looked to his wife with a grin. "My friends said that they will be happy to help."

"And some of the ponies gave sympathetic looks to Wild Fire because she doesn't know about Christmas, but I just told her that was part of the Christmas tradition," Baby Daffodil said with excitement.

"And how was your day, my love?" Ranger asked with curiosity.

"My friends said that they would be delighted to donate the decorations, and they are going to see if they can get other ponies to donate as well," Mother Daffodil said with giddiness. "Do you think you and your friends could get the Christmas tree this coming Saturday morning and have it ready to take to Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire's home the same afternoon?

Ranger gave a positive nod to his wife. "I don't see that being a problem."

"Good; and, honey, I want you to be here with me to help with the decorations," Mother Daffodil said, looking at her daughter.

"Yes, ma'am," Baby Daffodil said, barely keeping her excitement contained.

On Friday, Ranger, Mother Daffodil, and Baby Daffodil began getting things ready and called their friends to make sure they were still in on the plan. Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire were kept in the dark about the plans for the big event. Preparations were finished and dinner was eaten; they went to bed for a good night of sleep, but Baby Daffodil was too excited to sleep, thinking of Wild Fire's expression when they surprised her and her family. Finally, she gave in to exhaustion and fell asleep with a joyful smile on her lips.

On Saturday morning, Ranger, Mother Daffodil, and Baby Daffodil went downstairs to eat a quick breakfast. When they finished their meal, Ranger got up. "I better get going if I am going to have that Christmas tree here on time." He kissed his wife and daughter and went out the front door toward the forest with his friends.

When Ranger was gone, Daffodil said, "We better clean up the kitchen and get ready ourselves." Mother and daughter began cleaning up, and when they finished Mother Daffodil went to the living room to call her friends to confirm the time of their arrival. Then she and Baby Daffodil went back to the kitchen to make some snacks for the stallions and mares that would be at their house.

Meanwhile, in the Dark Forest, the stallions were still hunting for a perfect Christmas tree. "What about this one?" a yellow stallion said as he pointed to a tree.

"It's too tall for their house," replied Ranger.

After about a dozen or so trees, they all decided that the next tree that would fit into the house would be the one they took. While they were walking along, a bright light began to shine in the forest, causing the stallions to stop.

"What in Ponyland is making that light?" Ranger said as the other ponies just shrugged their shoulders. They all walked towards the light and suddenly saw the most beautiful Christmas tree any of them had ever seen. With a smile, Ranger announced, "We found our Christmas tree." He started toward it with his axe and began cutting the tree down.

Meanwhile, the mares began arriving at Daffodil's house with decorations; Mother Daffodil, being a gracious hostess, began serving snacks. Close to noon, she heard the back door open and saw her husband come in with the rest of the stallions behind him. "I didn't think you were going to get here on time," Mother Daffodil said with a worried look on her face.

Ranger looked at his wife with a big smile on his face and announced, "When you see the tree we found, you will be glad of the time it took."

By the time the clock had struck noon and the ponies had had their fill of the snacks that were laid out, they began their trek to the neighbors' house. When they arrived, Mother Daffodil told the other ponies to stand back, so as not to freak out her neighbors when their door opened.

Mother Daffodil rang the bell, and then heard hoofsteps. The door opened to show Devilin. Mother Daffodil asked, "Hello, Devilin, could me and a few friends come in? We have a little Christmas gift we would like to give you and your family."

Devilin looked at the mare that she considered to be a good friend of the family and conceded, "I guess that will be all right." She opened the door wider to let the ponies in. Mother Daffodil waved the others to come in, and Devilin saw that there were about twenty-six ponies armed with boxes and a big tree. Before she could do anything they all began to herd into the house. Irritated, Devilin started looking for Daffodil to find out what in Ponyland was going on, and finally found her talking to Salaries. When Salaries saw his wife approaching them with a none-too-happy look on her face, he decided it would be a good idea to get to his wife before his wife got to Daffodil.

"Honey, isn't this wonderful of Daffodil to give us a real Christmas this year?" Salaries said as he walked up to a now-confused Devilin; seeing her expression, he started to explain what was happening.

Upstairs in her room, Wild Fire heard the many hoofsteps downstairs; and being a curious little filly, she opened her door and went downstairs to investigate. With a dumbfounded look on her face, she saw a dozen ponies putting up a tree and hanging Christmas decorations on it and the house.

"I see a certain filly is out of her room." Wild Fire slowly turned around to face her parents, but they both assured her with a nuzzle that they were not angry about her leaving her room. "So what do you think of these decorations?" Salaries asked her.

Wild Fire, looking at her parents and Baby Daffodil, sighed happily, "I think it is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen."

When the decoration was finished, Devilin and Mother Daffodil came out of the kitchen with hot chocolate and sandwiches. After refreshments and chitchatting, the guests all headed on their way home. Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire gave their thanks and appreciation for the work their new friends had done.

Eventually, everyone was gone except for Baby Daffodil and her family. "Ranger, Daffodil, and Baby Daffodil, my family and I have heard that it was you three that organized this whole affair, and we are very grateful to all of you and are honored to call you our friends." As Salaries finished his speech, Mother Daffodil and Baby Daffodil's cheeks flushed.

Ranger smiled as he said, "That is what friends are for, to be there for one another." With that said, the ponies hugged and shook hooves before departing.

Mother Daffodil asked from the front door, "You will be attending the Christmas function at the church the Sunday before Christmas, won't you?"

Salaries turned to his family and then to their friends and said, "Yes, we will be there."

"That's great; let's all meet here at your house and leave together!"

"That sounds perfect," Salaries said warmly.

With light hearts they all said goodnight to each other and headed for home.

The days passed and the day of the Christmas function came closer. Devilin began to notice a worried look on her husband's face. "What is it that worries you so, my dear husband?"

Salaries, hearing his wife's concern, looked to her with a feeling of dread in his heart. "I fear that going to this church may do you harm."

She looked at her husband with a puzzled look on her face. "Why would you think such a thing?"

"I feel that being in a place that worships the Spirit of pure good may be unpleasant for one born of pure evil," Salaries expressed his concern.

Devilin smiled at her husband and said, "I think living all these years with you has given me some immunity, don't you think?"

While holding his wife in a loving embrace and placing his lips next to her ear, Salaries whispered, "But to play it safe, I will learn more about this religion to see what we should do to make sure you will not have any trouble while at church." Then he turned to face his wife and with all his love gave her a passionate kiss.

The day before the Christmas function, Salaries gathered his family in the living room to discuss how they would precede. Salaries looked with conviction towards his family. "I have done a deep study of this religion and think that if I touch anything that the priest has blessed, I will be able to absorb the good energy from it so that Devilin will not have any discomfort during our time at the church."

Devilin looked at her husband with a disconcerting look on her face. "Salaries, I don't think that if I touch a blessed object I will go up in flames."

"You mean everything to me and I will not take any chances with your well-being," Salaries replied as he took his wife's hoof in his.

Wild Fire, thinking about what her father had said, gave him a tap on his leg to get his attention. As Salaries looked at her, she asked, "What about me?"

Seeing the worry in his daughter's eyes, Salaries smiled. "Wild Fire, being born of both pure good and pure evil, you are immune to both sides.

Wild Fire felt relieved at hearing this, but then took pity on her mother's frustration. She walked to her mother and placed her forelegs around Devilin's waist and hugged her. "Don't worry, Mother, I will protect you."

Devilin looked down at her daughter and gently patted her head. Giving a great big sigh, she announced, "With my two protectors with me, what do I have to worry about?" With that settled, they all gave a group hug and went to their daily duties.

The day of the Christmas function came around, and Wild Fire's family prepared themselves for the journey to the church. Baby Daffodil's family came over before it was time to leave, and were let inside. "Is everyone ready to go?" Mother Daffodil asked excitedly.

Salaries looked to his wife and daughter for a sign that they were ready; both females gave him a smile, so he turned to Mother Daffodil and said, "We are ready, willing, and able." With that said, the two families headed to church with the two fillies leading the way.

When they finally got to the church and went inside, Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire observed Baby Daffodil's family placing one of their front hooves into a bowl of water and then touching their foreheads, chests, and shoulders. When it was his family's turn to do the same, Salaries went to the bowl of water first; as his hoof touched the water, any good energy in it was absorbed into his body, making it safe for Devilin and Wild Fire to perform the ritual. Salaries casually touched the bowl again and returned the good energy that was in it.

Salaries did this to every object he felt would harm his wife in any way. As the ponies found a place to sit, Father Isaac came out of the back room and stood behind the altar. "I hear that we have three new ponies in our congregation today, and I would like to have them stand up so we can welcome them," the priest announced. Mother Daffodil motioned Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire to stand; the family did so, looking at the congregation around them with unease. Father Isaac lifted his forelegs like an orchestra leader, and all the ponies in the church welcomed the newcomers. The ponies sat down, and Father Isaac began to say Mass.

When the Mass was over, the ponies went to the church hall for a Christmas lunch. Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire were the recipients of many personal greetings during this time from other ponies in the parish. Wild Fire and her family stood and stared at the large dining hall once they entered the doors. Their good friends took them by the hoof and guided them to a reserved table where Father Isaac was sitting. The six friends sat down and things began to settle down; then Father Isaac got up and tapped on his glass to get the other ponies' attention.

"This Christmas will be a very special one for three ponies who never had the chance to celebrate Christmas until they came to Dream Valley, and these ponies are the same ones that we welcomed at Mass this morning." Father Isaac paused in his speech, and all eyes turned to Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire, making them a little tense. Father Isaac began to speak again. "And I, for one, wish these ponies all the joy and happiness that this holiday brings." With those last words, Father Isaac lifted his glass with an angelic smile and said, "Merry Christmas."

Then all the ponies in the church hall lifted their glasses high and with a great joy that Christmas brings, yelled out in unison, "Merry Christmas!" With that done, Father Isaac gave thanks for the food they were about to partake, and then the ponies started to chow down on the meal in front of them.

After the meal was over, the ponies slowly began to head home; before Wild Fire's family left, Father Isaac stopped them and asked, "You will be here on Christmas Eve to see the Living Nativity, I hope? It will be so festive."

Before they could say anything in reply, Mother Daffodil came up and said, "Oh, of course they will be at the Living Nativity. Isn't that right?" The three ponies stared at the mare with a surprised expression, but could only nod in agreement. Father Isaac said his goodbyes and went on his way.

When the ponies were back at their house, Salaries asked their friends, "Would you all like to have a cup of hot chocolate before going home?"

"That would be nice," Mother Daffodil said warmly.

As Devilin passed her husband, she gave him the look of an evil spirit ready to destroy her adversary, making Salaries get a shiver down his spine and wondering what was bothering his wife.

While the fillies went to Wild Fire's room to play, the adults went to the living room to sit down. Devilin excused herself to the kitchen to make the hot chocolate, and Salaries followed her to find out what was wrong. "Is there something bothering you, my love?"

When Devilin heard her husband's question, she turned to him with flames in her eyes. "Is there something bothering me? Well, let's see. We were put on exhibition by that Father Isaac while we were at church, and I know that Daffodil had something to do with it. And talking about Daffodil, what gave her the right to tell that priest that we were going to that Living Nativity?" she spat.

Salaries looked at his wife and tried to come up with an answer that would please her. "You know Daffodil, she always over does things a bit, but she does it out of love for us."

Devilin just looked at her husband and said, "Sometimes I wish she had a little less love for us than she does."

Salaries came closer to his wife and held her in a loving embrace, placing his lips on hers. Mother Daffodil chose this instant to enter the kitchen, asking, "Do you need any help in here?" However, then she saw them kissing. "Oh, excuse me, I didn't mean to interrupt." With an embarrassed look on her face, Mother Daffodil turned around and trotted right back to the living room.

Salaries and Devilin, after being interrupted, looked at each other and smiled. "I better get the hot chocolate made, even though Daffodil did seem a bit flushed," Devilin announced. Salaries got cups out while Devilin boiled water.

Ranger saw his wife come back into the living room with a reddened face. "What has made your cheeks so flushed, my dear?"

Mother Daffodil sat down next to him on the couch. "Let's just say that I picked an improper time to go into the kitchen."

Ranger, thinking that their friends were doing things other than making hot chocolate, just looked at his wife with a grin.

Awhile later, Salaries and Devilin appeared with cups of cocoa in their hooves. Devilin set the cups down and then went to the stairs to call the fillies down. "Wild Fire!"

Wild Fire heard her mother call and went to the door to answer. "Yes, Mother!"

"You and baby Daffodil come downstairs for some hot chocolate!"

"Yes, ma'am, we'll be right down!"

A short time later, the fillies came down and headed to the living room. They all sat drinking hot chocolate and having casual conversation into the late hours of the night.

Before Mother Daffodil and her family left, she reminded her friend, "We will be over Christmas Eve to take all of you to the Living Nativity."

Devilin looked at her husband and then back at Mother Daffodil and said with a smile, "We can hardly wait to go." Under her breath so that only Salaries could hear, she added, "Yeah, I can hardly wait to be bored out of my skull."

When their friends had disappeared from sight, Salaries smiled indulgently at his wife's remark as he guided her back into the house.

The days flew by before Christmas Eve, and the day was finally upon them. Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire were getting ready for the outing when the doorbell rang. Wild Fire went to answer it and found Baby Daffodil and her family; happily, she let them in.

When Mother Daffodil had the audience of Wild Fire's parents, she announced, "My family and I thought that we all should get a bite to eat at a restaurant before heading to the church, if that is okay with you."

"That sounds fine. What restaurant did you have in mind?" Salaries said with a smile.

Grinning, Mother Daffodil said, "We are going to the Estate Manor." Then they all herded out the door.

Once they were seated at the Estate Manor, Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire just stared at the medieval design of the restaurant. The waiter came to the table and gave out menus to the group; Salaries looked at the prices and his jaw dropped.

Mother Daffodil saw the bewildered look on the stallion's face and announced, "Don't worry about the price; my husband I will be treating."

"But it's so expensive," Salaries declared.

"Just consider this an early Christmas present from us to all of you for being such good friends." Before Salaries could reject the offer, Mother Daffodil put a hoof over his mouth and said, "And I won't hear any 'but's' about it." With that said, the ponies stared at the menus and gave their orders to the waiter. While they were waiting for their food, Mother Daffodil asked her friends, "Will any of your relatives be visiting on Christmas Day?"

"No, we will be spending Christmas alone," Salaries replied.

"Oh, a cozy family Christmas sounds sweet," Mother Daffodil said unconvincingly, making Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire wonder what could be on the mare's mind. Then the talk went to other things that were happening around Dream Valley.

The waiter came with their food, so the ponies stopped talking and began to eat. After they had finished and paid the bill, they went on to the Living Nativity held at the church. A herd of ponies had already gathered when they arrived. When they got closer, they saw that some foals were dressed in biblical costumes. Standing with the adult ponies, Father Isaac noticed their arrival and walked over to the newcomers. "I am so glad that you could all make it here," he said warmly, shaking their hooves. Looking at Wild Fire and Baby Daffodil, he added, "If it is all right with your parents, how would you two like to go to the church hall? We have games and toys you can play with until the activities start." The two fillies looked to their parents for permission, and with a nod of the head and a warning to be back for the activities, the fillies went off to play while the adults mingled with the other adults.

When the sun began to set, Father Isaac gathered the foals that were in the Living Nativity. The colts and fillies in the church hall came outside to be with their parents; when Wild Fire and Baby Daffodil were back with theirs, the lights around the stage for the nativity dimmed. Unfortunately, they then started flickering and then went out completely. The ponies sighed in disappointment.

Wild Fire, seeing all the ponies sad looks, went to her parents and asked, "Isn't there something we can do to help?"

Salaries, hearing his daughter's plea, whispered to Devilin and Wild Fire, "Follow me to the back of the crowd." When they were away from the other ponies, Salaries continued, "Now, let's hold hooves and concentrate together on bringing light to this Nativity." As they were concentrating, a pure white light began to appear way above the ponies, becoming brighter and brighter with each second. One of the mares finally looked up in the sky and exclaimed, "Hey, everybody, look at that!" She pointed up with her hoof, causing all eyes to look up at the spectacle. Suddenly, the light cast its illumination over the entire Nativity, giving it an angelic glow and making all the ponies feel surprisingly warm and joyful, bathed in the light's glow.

When Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire heard the ponies' excitement, they opened their eyes to view the scene in front of them. "What's going on with everyone?" a puzzled Devilin asked Salaries.

Salaries, looking up in the sky, responded, "It seems that when we focused our spirit energy to create light we inadvertently created the Holy Star, which we created many centuries ago to guide the mortals to the Creator's Son this same faithful night. All the ponies are feeling the love that was felt those many years past."

While Salaries was talking, a stallion's voice rang out, "I found them!" It was Ranger with his family.

"We were wondering what happened to all of you when the lights went out," a worried Mother Daffodil said.

"We decided it would be safer against the wall here," Salaries explained.

While the ponies were talking, newsponies from the television and newspaper came to report on the mystifying light in the sky. While the families watched the reporters, Salaries decided that it would be a good idea to head back home since it was getting so hectic in the area. They walked back to their street together.

On Christmas Day itself, Salaries, Devilin, and Wild Fire met each other downstairs and went to the Christmas tree to open the presents they had gotten for each other with the help of their good neighbors and friends. As they were opening gifts, the door bell rang. "I wonder who that could be," Devilin said in a sarcastic tone as she got up to answer it. She opened the door and continued sarcastically, "Oh, look, Daffodil and her family is here. What a surprise." She opened the door wider to let them in, however.

Mother Daffodil saw that the ponies were still opening their gifts, and she looked apologetic. "Oh, I am so sorry; I didn't mean to interrupt your sharing of gifts."

Salaries, giving the mare a reassuring smile, said in reply, "That's quite all right. You and your family are always welcome in our house, anytime, day or night."

Mother Daffodil, now feeling a bit better for intruding, gesturing to her daughter to hoof-out the gifts they had brought. Salaries looked at Baby Daffodil with a smile as she hoofed him his gift. "You all did not have to bring us these presents; you have done so much for us already."

"Nonsense; what are gifts for but to give to those we care about?"

Hearing Mother Daffodil's kind words, Salaries realized he needed a conference with his family. "Would you all excuse us for a minute? I would like to talk to my family." He gestured for Devilin and Wild Fire to follow him to the kitchen. When they were gathered there, Salaries continued, "We must give these kind and loving ponies something special."

"And what do you suggest we give them?" Devilin asked.

Wild Fire spoke-up, "I know what will make a nice gift that they will all enjoy."

"What type of gift do you have in mind, little one?" Salaries asked.

With a big smile, Wild Fire explained, "The Magical Crystal Orb of Creation. With it, they can see Ponyland's past unfold in front of them that before they could only read about in books."

"And how do we explain to them that we have an orb that can see the past?" Salaries queried.

Devilin looked at her husband and placed a hoof gently on his face. "You will think of something to say; you always do." She gave him a loving kiss on the cheek. So, Salaries summoned the crystal orb and they headed back to the living room.

With the orb in one hoof, Salaries stood in front of their friends with Devilin and Wild Fire on either side. He announced, "You three have shown my family friendship, caring, and devotion, and have made us feel like part of your family since we arrived in Dream Valley. And so, we would like to give you all this crystal orb that has been in our family for many generations. With it, you are able to peer into Ponyland's past."

Ranger, Mother Daffodil, and Baby Daffodil stood silent for a few moments, and then Mother Daffodil began to speak. "We couldn't take something that's been in your family for generations!"

Devilin walked up to Mother Daffodil and said, "As far as we are concerned, you and your family are as much a part of ours as if you were blood relatives."

Hearing this warm sentiment, Mother Daffodil burst into tears of happiness and gave Devilin a hug of affection. Devilin returned it the best way she could, being pure evil though she was and not understanding the emotions that Mother Daffodil was showing.

Salaries set the orb on the table so that their friends could look at it more closely. As they stared at it, they noticed four figures that supported the orb; three of them they recognized as the three types of ponies that inhabit Dream Valley, the Earth, Unicorn, and Pegasus ponies. However, the fourth one looked like a combination of the other three.

Ranger asked, "So how does this orb show Ponyland's past?"

"All you have to do is look into it and think of what time and event in the past you wish to see, and it will appear before you," Salaries explained.

"So who's going to look into it first?" Ranger asked, turning to his family.

Devilin added, "The orb can show multiple images to many ponies at the same time; and if you wish to share a vision with another pony, all you need to do is touch that pony."

So Ranger, Mother Daffodil, and Baby Daffodil each looked into the orb and as they did, they began to view many past events. Ranger and Mother Daffodil agreed that the orb was a wonderful gift to receive and thanked their very good friends for it. They invited them to their house for Christmas dinner and if you had happened to see these ponies walking from one house to the other, you would swear that angels from heaven were walking beside them judging from the angelic smiles on their faces.

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