Author's notes: This takes place right after the previous chapter.

Hellboy's First Christmas

Chapter Two: The Birthday of Jesus

The next day was Christmas Eve. Trevor Broom, whose Catholic faith was very important to him, had been working on instructing Hellboy about Jesus and the meaning of Christmas. The fact that Christmas was only two days later than Hellboy's birthday gave a significance, in Broom's eyes, to the birth of Hellboy. He was determined to raise this infant demon to be a force for good in the world.

Broom, just as he had promised, had spent the whole of Hellboy's birthday on the 23rd just watching movies with Hellboy and playing with him. Hellboy assumed that Broom, who was a very busy man, would go back to his work the next day. He was surprised when he did not. About an hour after they had eaten breakfast, Hellboy found him in his office unpacking a lot of small figurines from a box and placing them on his desk.

"Father, who are all these little people?" he asked; also noting that there were statues of sheep, cows, and camels as well.

Broom looked up from his very careful unwrapping of these figurines. "Do you recall what I have been telling you about Baby Jesus? This is a traditional Neapolitan crèche. It is meant to show a representation of what people think the birth of Jesus was like. It is often a tradition to set it up on Christmas Eve. That is what I'm doing now. Later I will set up and decorate a Christmas tree."

Hellboy reached for one of these figurines with his right hand. "Can I look at one?"

Broom gently touched that enormous hand. "I would prefer, Son, that you didn't touch these statues, especially not with your right hand. They are extremely fragile and would break easily. I obtained this crèche on my only trip to Rome and these statues would be hard to replace."

He then unpacked something that looked like a miniature barn made out of wood that had straw glued to the roof. He picked this up and walked out to the room that he used as their private sitting room.

There was a small table there with a covering on it that was some sort of fuzzy white material filled with colored glitter; he placed this barn on the table and went to fetch the figurines. He brought them in two at a time and arranged them along with the barn on the table.

The barn, toward the top of the back wall, had a hole drilled through it and a small light bulb, with a cord and on/off switch, passed through that hole. Broom also arranged some electric candles at the back corners of this table; he plugged all these lights in and switched them on.

Hellboy, who had been watching this whole process in rapt fascination, admired the way the lights on the table made the whole collection of statues glow and made the glitter in the table covering shine. He especially admired the statue of a woman in blue and white robes.

Broom, who had noted his adopted son's interest in all of this, thought that now might be a good time to reinforce the significance of Christmas. Fetching his favorite Bible, he drew the large chair in the sitting room closer to the table with the crèche. Seating Hellboy in his lap, he read him the two different versions of the Christmas story from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.

He then led him to the table, pointing out various statues that represented characters in these stories: Mary, Joseph, shepherds, Wise Men; and most of all Baby Jesus.

"You, see, Son," Broom said in conclusion, "Tomorrow we celebrate Christmas, which is really the birthday of the Baby Jesus: the baby who grew up to be one of the world's great teachers. Baby Jesus ended up being so much more than just another baby; that is why in the Bible stories I just read to you he is referred to as Emmanuel, or 'God with us'. Jesus is truly God come down from heaven to show us the ways of peace and love."

Hellboy smiled, "You mean Baby Jesus has a birthday just like me? Is that why those Wise Men brought him presents?"

Broom knelt down and looked at the crèche from Hellboy's level. "Yes, that is why the Wise Men brought Baby Jesus gifts and why it is traditional to give gifts to others on Christmas; the Baby Jesus resides in all of our hearts and we can give gifts to him by giving them to others. We can also give him the gift of the love that is in our hearts."

After this little conversation, Broom took Hellboy out to a storage room on the base. From there, Broom and some other men fetched a pine tree about six feet tall. They brought this into the sitting room and arranged it in a special holder that allowed it to set on the floor.

Broom then went out and returned with a few boxes of lights and decorations for the tree. The sets of lights were brand-new, so Broom did not have the trouble of untangling these lights. He proceeded to entwine these strings of large colored bulbs around the tree and use clips at the base of each bulb to attach them to the branches.

Broom then gave Hellboy a little job to do; he held a container of ornament hooks in the palm of his huge right hand and handed these hooks to Broom one at a time with his left hand as Broom was hanging glass ornaments on the tree.

When it was all complete Broom plugged in the lights on the tree and Hellboy really felt like he was looking at something magical. It was especially beautiful when Broom switched off all the other lights and the only light was from the tree and the crèche.

Broom had turned one of his smaller rooms into a private chapel. A local priest, who knew of the BPRD and often was a consultant for it, came and conducted a traditional Christmas Midnight Mass.

Some of the other base personnel who were Catholic also attended this service and Broom allowed Hellboy to stay up for it. He was fascinated for a while, but soon fell asleep. When the Mass was ended, Broom picked up Hellboy, who was still sleeping, and went to carry him out.

It was then that he overheard one who had attended the Mass speak to another. "I can't quite figure Broom out; it's one thing for him to be taking care of this creature, but why does he have to drag it here to Mass with the rest of us? It's just so weird."

Broom turned back into the chapel and addressed this man. He spoke very quietly, not only because he did not want to wake Hellboy, but also because the more furious he was the quieter he became.

"If I choose to raise my adopted son in my own faith, that is my business and no one else's. I expect all who work with me to respect that."

Without waiting for a reply, Broom took Hellboy to his own bedroom and put him to bed. He then retrieved the few gifts that he had managed to purchase and placed them under the tree for Hellboy to find the next morning.

In December of 2004, Hellboy attended Christmas Midnight Mass in the chapel in the underground facilities in Newark, New Jersey where Trevor Broom's Bureau had been located since the early 1960s. This was the first time Elizabeth Sherman had attended Mass with him. Liz, as he called her, was the woman who Hellboy loved more than anything else in the world. They were soon to marry because she returned this love.

This was also Hellboy's first Christmas since Trevor Broom had been murdered in the previous month. He could not help thinking of him and that Christmas in 1945 when Trevor Broom had set up his beautiful Neapolitan crèche in New Mexico.

After the Mass was over, Hellboy put on one of his warmer shirts and his large tan coat. He climbed up to the roof of the building and sat looking at the stars and beautiful full moon in the sky.

He pulled out a little statue from one of his pockets; it was the Virgin Mary in her blue and white robes, the only statue left from Broom's original crèche. He had, despite his care, lost all of the other statues to the ravages of time and moves of location.

"Blessed Virgin Mary, please tell him I miss him; I miss him so much," He sat for a long time holding the little statue; wondering if Trevor Broom ever realized how much his adopted son had really loved him, even though Hellboy couldn't recall that he had ever told Broom this.

Hellboy eventually stood up. After taking one last look at the moon and the bright stars, he carefully placed the cherished statue back in the pocket he had earlier removed it from.

"Merry Christmas, Father," he whispered. With that, he turned and walked back into the building.