I do not own the 1982 Annie characters, but I grew up with them, they will always be my favorite cast and characters! I wanted to create a fic, that depicted Annie's continued doubts about Santa Claus which she expressed to Molly at the beginning of the movie.

Christmas Morning – 7:30 a.m.

Twas the morning of Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse … Good heavens, I sure hope not! I feel like a little kid again, however, my child is not up bouncing off the walls, I am! Grace and I have had to do a lot of Christmas damage control, this past month, thanks to Miss Hannigan's shenanigans over the years.

I must say this year has been full of blessings! Annie, then Grace accepting my proposal and demanding we get married ASAP, Annie's 11th birthday, and so many other firsts! However, Grace and I were so excited about experiencing Christmas as a family, we didn't notice that Annie wasn't partaking in all the festivities with her gusto!

It wasn't until Grace wanted to take Annie to see the Macy's Santa Claus that we noticed that something was amiss. Annie didn't respond with her enthusiasm, just said sure she would go if that's what Grace wanted her to do. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend, but when they returned from Macy's, Grace was very distraught!

"Oh, Oliver, that woman! You were right she stole not only those little girls' Christmas gifts but their Christmas spirit as well!" wailed Grace as she buried herself into my embrace. "Annie … jussssttt waited patiently in line … Oliver … she wasssssn't even excited tooooooo meet himmmmm like all the other boyssssss and girlssss. She sat on his lap for me ... for ME! Oliver, she didn't asssssk for anything! She proceeded to tell Santa the true meaning of Christmas was Christ, which she wasn't wrong, but it caught NOT only ME off guard BUT Santa too!

Once Santa recovered, a lot faster than me, he tried to pry somethinnggg out of her. You know what she asked for? Nothing for herself but she told Santa that if he was real … he would find a wwwwway to spread his Christmas cheer among all the orphans since she already received the greatest gift an orphan could want ... US. But, she tolllld him spreading Christmas cheer among orphans was impossible! Our daughter is a Scrooge all because of that WOMAN!"

I remember chuckling a bit because of the absurdity. "Annie a Scrooge? Impossible! She's the most pleasant, well meaning, generous, and loving child! You must be mistaken!"

"Oh, Oliver, if that were only true! I don't know how we can reverse the damage without making her hate us later in life. I mean, yes, there is no 'real Santa' but that's not the point. He represents the Christmas spirit of giving, even though Christ is the reason for the season, everyone should believe in St. Nick when they are young! That woman ruined our daughter!"

"Grace, at least Annie believes in Christ and the true meaning of Christmas!"

"Oliver! What are we going to do?! Annie deserves to believe in Santa too!"

So, that was the start of Grace's mission to find a way to get Annie to believe in Santa Claus. She bought book after book about different stories of St. Nicholas, Santa Claus, Christ's birth, different traditions, myths, and we read them all to Annie but her Christmas spirit was still bleak to say the least! Annie, would smile and hug Grace and I after each reading, however, the Christmas spark lacked in her eyes.

The staff even noticed that our blue eyed cherub was more melancholy and going through the Christmas motions. Annie helped Mrs. Pugh bake Christmas cookies but lacked her usual gusto, and Mrs. Pugh reported it to Grace. Then a week before Christmas, we went hunting for our family Christmas tree (it was to be an adventure for all of us) but Annie barely acknowledged the trees; however, Grace being my positive Grace doubled her joyful efforts to get Annie to participate. Annie, I'm pretty sure being the perceptive child that she is, attempted to put forth her gusto the rest of the day. However, even the houseold staff noticed that her disposition and actions were a bit forced while we trimmed the tree together as a family.

Finally, Grace could not stand it any longer, during Annie's night time routine with us reading her a story and tucking her in, Grace asked why Annie was still having trouble believing. Annie replied, "Why should this year be any different and shouldn't we really only celebrate Christ's birth? Plus, I feel guilty that I will get a Christmas but my friends won't. I already got everything I could wish for, you and daddy!" Of course, that comment had Grace's flood gates going and she hauled Annie into her arms.

"Oh Annie! Your father and Santa are making sure that the orphans have a Christmas this year! They're making sure that no one steals their gifts like years past!"

"Well that will be swell, mom and daddy, but I still feel like Santa Claus is over shadowin' Christ!"

"Annie, Christmas is Christ's birthday, but …" I stammered as I tried to assist my wife but I couldn't come up with anything, thank goodness for Grace.

"What your father is trying to say is that Christ is the reason for the season, but Santa Claus embodies the spirit of giving. Santa loves to give to good boys and girls; plus, Christmas is a time for family and friends to enjoy each other and be thankful for everything that has occurred that year for them."

"I thought Thanksgivin' was a time'ta be grateful and thankful for everything you have includin' you friends and family?"

"Yes dear, you are right, but Christmas continues those feelings but they increase with the yuletide spirit of giving and sharing in hopes that St. Nicholas would soon be there."

"Your funny daddy, that last bit is from Twas the Night Before Christmas! Okay, I will try'ta 'embody' the spirit of Christmas but I still have my doubts. I definitely want'ta celebrate Christ's birth, and I have enjoyed His story from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John! I know that it had'ta be real important if it's told in four different books in the bible!"

"Well, that sounds like a start, my dear," I stated but I could still see the defeat in Grace's eyes. We tucked Annie into bed and then left her room when her eyes closed. I should have known the topic was not over but I was still surprised, when Grace and I returned to work she brought it up again.

"Oliver, we need to do something!"

"Grace, you heard her! What do we get a child that received everything that she's ever wanted!? I'm not going to let it consume me!" wrong statement.

"Are you saying I'm letting it consume me?" and with that I experienced my first night in the 'doghouse' as Annie would call it the next morning. Grace actually stormed out of the office and locked me … ME … out of our bedroom. After pounding on the door a few times and getting no response, I left defeated and located another room in order to not arouse Annie from her slumber.

When morning arrived, I was unpleasantly informed at breakfast by Mrs. Pugh that Grace left that morning to shop for Annie's perfect gifts to ensure that the rest of her Christmas spirit was instilled in HER daughter. Needless to say I received the message loud and clear that my wife was not thrilled with my response last night. Now, I had to figure out how to get back into her good graces, pun not intended, but how?

However, later in the afternoon Grace returned from her shopping spree and may I say … her disposition had done a complete 180 because she came into the office and planted a giant kiss on lips taking me completely off guard, as well as, my breath away! Then she sat down in her usual chair, grabbed her pen and paper, and proceeded to look up at me expectantly like she was ready to work. She then started to chuckle because I am quite sure my face had the most puzzled, bewildered, and perplexed expression on my face.

"Oliver, what's the matter, can't a girl kiss her husband?!"

"Grace, not that I am complaining, but last night if I recall, a certain girl banned this certain husband from their room (so as not to get in the 'doghouse' again I added quickly)? And, this certain husband is extremely sorry as well!"

This made Grace giggle more, "Oliver, I'm sorry, I was just so upset that our little girl's innocence was robbed, but (as she looked at me like a kid in a candy shop) I was given the most wonderful gift from Santa when I returned to Macy's! He handcrafted it for Annie, he said he was so touched by her wish and her belief in Christ, but also a bit disappointed that she didn't believe in him that he had to make it right away!

"I asked him what he planned to do if I didn't come back to the store, but he said there is a higher power working with him, that he knew I would return! Then he handed me this beautiful package and asked that Annie open it first thing on Christmas morning! Oliver, it was so magical, he called me by name! How could he have remembered ME from all the other families that have visited him!" If you ask me, my wife's yuletide spirit just tripled and it was contagious! I just hoped Annie caught the bug as well!

So, true to her statement from the night before, Annie was trying to get into the spirit and get excited about Santa's visit. Grace and I knew she wanted a bike and a few other things, so we had that covered, but the question still remained would our redheaded, blue-eyed cherub accept the spirit of Santa Claus on Christmas day?

Slowly, Oliver, scanned the grand family room and admired it's decorations for the first time in years. The room was only lit by the Christmas tree lights, but it was breathtaking! The stocking were hung over the mantle and filled with treasures, presents for the family were under the tree, and as his eyes slowly glanced back in front of him he spied the precious package from St. Nick lying on the coffee table.

Soon a body joined him on the couch as it molded itself into his side. "Annie, still isn't up?" sighed Grace as she rested her head on Oliver's shoulder.

"I guess our hopes were for not?"

"Oh, I don't know Oliver, I'm pretty sure Miss Annie, snuck down here early this morning waiting to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus but was to late," cheekily replied Grace.

"Oh really and do tell how you know this grand information, Mrs. Warbucks," mused Oliver.

"Well, a certain Santa's helper by the name of Mrs. Pugh caught Annie dozing in that chair over there, sleeping with this present in her arms. Mrs. Pugh fetched Drake to take her back upstairs. And before you ask, after you left our bed I got cold so I came down shortly after you, but I took a detour to the kitchen. That's when Santa's helpers told me about their great find."

"Let's hope that Annie finds her way down here soon, because I am quite excited about Christmas myself! I have to say that I haven't felt this way in decades not since Davey died. I am truly blessed to have you and Annie in my life. I can't think of a greater Christmas present than a life of returned happiness."

"Oh Oliver, I am so happy too! Since you've been such a good boy, I'll let you open one of your presents why we wait for Annie."

"Grace, we're downstairs, it would be improper for me to open my present," stated Oliver while waggling his brows. Grace in turn quickly but playfully slapped Oliver in the chest.

"Oliver! Good heavens, you are such a tease, and not that I wouldn't like you to unwrap what you are thinking about, it's very improper indeed! Maybe you are too naughty for your gift after all!" chortled Grace with her own tongue in cheek candor, but she slowly got up from her seat and retrieved a small package from under the tree.

Grace quickly returned to the couch and handed Oliver her present with shaky hands, as self consciousness and fear started to take over her jovial disposition. "Grace, are you okay?"

"Yes, Oliver, I know you have wondered why my emotions have been all over the place, lately. Well, I did too! After locking you out of our bedroom, then feeling like my emotions were everywhere, plus the constant nausea in the mornings for the past few weeks … well Mrs. Pugh suggested the next morning that I visit the doctor to make sure all was well."

"Well are you okay?" asked Oliver as his face blanched with sudden worry.

Still nervous about Oliver's response to her news, Grace begged, "Oliver, just open your present."

"How can I open a present, when the thought of you being sick makes me sick!?"

"Oliver, just open your present," Grace responded with growing impatience. This caused Oliver's fear to morph into frustration at his wife's lack of concern for her own wellbeing.

"Fine, once I open this gift will you please tell me what the doctor said!"

"Yes, now open it!" Grace exclaimed as she rung her hands together, worrying about his response.

While keeping his wife in his peripheral view, Oliver opened the small gift. As he slowly parted the tissue paper away from the contents of the gift, his face morphed into confusion. "Grace, I'm confused, why would you give me booties for Christmas?"

"Well … Oliver, the booties aren't exactly for you, but the baby will need them in about seven months."

"What baby," inquired Oliver as his full attention turned to Grace still perplexed by his gift.

Grace slowly ran her fingers over his frown lines, then proceeded to skim her hand down his head to his right hand, grabbing it and placing it on her belly. Breathlessly with a twist of fear etched in her voice, Grace responded, "our baby."

"Our baby … you mean OUR baby, you and I are having a baby? I'm going to be a daddy again?" asked Oliver as his facial expressions rapidly changed from confusion, to shock, to elation as this new information finally sunk into his brain past his thick skull. He quickly pulled Grace into a tight embrace.

"So, you're not mad?" sighed Grace.

Oliver quickly pulled back from his wife, "Mad, good heavens, why would I be mad?"

"Well, we never talked about having more children. I mean I know you love Annie with all your heart; but, after my elation from the doctor's news started to fade away and after I purchased and wrapped the booties I started to doubt how you would feel."

"It's that statement, I made in the garden about not loving children isn't it. I will never live that down, will I?" Grace's eyes quickly diverted to Oliver's chest when he voiced her own fears. Oliver quickly dissolved them when he cupped her chin in his hands bringing her gaze back to him and stating, "Well, I would hope that my love for Annie, defuses that idiotic statement I made. I know now I was only trying to protect my heart from incredible damage when Annie returned to the orphanage. Thank goodness you fought me on that and that 'the Mudges' didn't harm her more than they did! BUT, I WOULD BE HONORED TO HAVE AS MANY BABIES WITH YOU AS YOUR HEART DESIRES! Even if the thought hadn't crossed my mind before!"

Grace launched herself back into Oliver's embrace, and started to sob with relief, then she started to chuckle at the absurdity of her emotions. Oliver chortled as well as he slowly wiped Grace's tears from her face. "Oh Oliver, that was a wonderful speech! You, Annie, and now this baby are the most wonderful Christmas gifts this year! I've been so wound up with different emotions this past week worrying about your response, Annie's acceptance of the spirit of St. Nick, and the overwhelming joy of having everything I've ever wanted. I was sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop!"

Before Oliver could respond to Grace, they both heard the foot falls of their exuberant 11 year old, who rounded the corner into the family room. "Good morning mom and daddy, Merry Christmas!" exclaimed Annie as she ran around the couch to launch herself at her parents. Oliver becoming instantly protective of Grace and the baby, took the brunt of Annie's leap into their embrace. Grace reassured him quickly over the top of Annie's head that she was fine as she tweaked his nose, already realizing the 'expectant father protective mode' was now activated.

"What's this? You already started without me?" questioned Annie with a slight frown as she spotted the opened present as she slowly slid between her two parents.

"Well Miss Annie, your father was super excited this morning and could hardly contain his Christmas elation so I let him open one of his gifts, as we waited for you," Grace explained as she unsuccessfully removed the gift and its contents from Annie's prying eyes, however, Annie didn't let on too her knowledge of the booties.

Annie glanced up at both her parents with some confusion but it soon changed into a slight grin as the information started to click in her head. "Okay, that's only fair." Not wanting Annie to ask questions about his gift, Oliver quickly handed her the gift the Macy's St. Nick crafted for her.

"Here, Santa Claus, wanted you to have this. He specifically instructed your mother to give this to you first thing this morning before you opened your other gifts." Oliver rushed on, too worried now that the new baby may cause Annie to worry about her place in Grace and his heart.

"Okay," replied Annie as she slowly took the gift from Oliver. She gently shook it not knowing what was in it. Annie then proceeded to painstakingly open the gift increasing her parents' apprehension and worry over her Christmas spirit. She slowly pulled back the tissue and revealed a slip of paper with what appeared to be a poem. Annie picked it up and read it out loud for Grace and Oliver to hear as well.

"The sleigh was all packed, the reindeer were fed,

But Santa still knelt by the side of his bed,

"Dear Father, " he prayed, "Be with me tonight.

There's much work to do and my schedule is tight.

My sack will hold toys to grant all kids' wishes.

The supply will be endless like the loaves and the fishes.

I can do all these things, Lord, only through You.

I just need your blessing, then it's easy to do.

I do this only to honor the birth of the One,

That was sent to redeem us, Your most Holy Son.

So to all of my friends, lest Your glory I rob,

Please, Lord, remind them who gave me this job."

Then after reading the poem she glanced into the box and discovered a well crafted, wooden ornament. She slowly raised it up for her parents to see as well, to say the whole family was speechless at the sight of the ornament was an understatement. The ornament depicted St. Nick kneeling at the manager, where baby Jesus laid.

Before Grace or Oliver could form two words due to their mutual astonishment, Annie breathlessly confirmed, "Well, I guess there really is a Santa Claus, and he's good friends with Jesus too. How else would he know I've been prayin' for a baby brother or sister?"

Both parents were rendered speechless again but it quickly dissolved in delighted chuckles as they quickly embraced their daughter again. Then over her head, they shared a mutual look, of joy, wonder, and Christmas cheer, that only the yuletide brings to families each year.


Author's Note: I could not confirm when the "Kneeling Santa" came about, so I thought that a hand crafted, one of a kind, from the jolly old fella himself would be an interesting twist to my plot. I love that image! The image and the poem are not mine, just used them a bit for my Christmas story. :-)