She stood at the picture window and gazed out over the white blanket of fresh snow. Surprisingly, her mother, her brothers and their families were still upstairs. She had expected her nephews to be up at the crack of dawn and to wake the entire household.

Dana had woken before dawn and felt an urge to get up and go downstairs for a few minutes of quite solitude. She knew the Scully cabin well enough that she didn’t need to turn on any lights. The light of the nearly full moon reflecting off the snow illuminated the room through the picture window anyway. She’d gone into the kitchen and made some hot cider before returning to the livingroom and watching the sunrise.

Dana had been to so many Christmases at the Scully family cabin, but none of them felt like this one. For the first time in her life her heart was truly at peace. It was Christmas and she actually felt the Christmas cheer. She smiled as she recalled the time she spent gift shopping. Something she had never really enjoyed before. It had seemed like a chore before, an obligation. She may not have been the most cheerful of people during past Christmases, especially the last few years. But then, she’d been stuck working most of them.

She took a sip of her cider and smiled.

Suddenly arms slipped around her waist from behind and warmth spread through her as a shapely form pressed against her back. She let out a contented sigh as she lean back into her lover.

“I woke up and you were gone.”

Dana reached up over her shoulder and caressed a cheek. “Don’t worry, I’ll never go far,” she replied.

Jess looked out the window over Dana’s shoulder. “Fresh snow… it makes everything look different and new.”

Dana turned in Jess’s arms and gazed into her sparkling grey eyes. “Everything is different and new… because of you. This is the first Christmas I’ve really felt like celebrating in more years than I care to admit. I’ve wanted so much to be here today – with you.”

As they kissed, they heard footfalls on the steps. When they parted they saw Maggie entering the room and returned her smile.

“And here I thought I’d be the first one up,” Maggie said.

“Oh, I have a feeling the boys won’t be far behind you, Maggie,” said Jess. “I’m going to head back up and change into something other than my pajamas.” Jess lightly padded up the stairs.

Dana slipped her arm around her mother’s waist. “Come on, Mom, I’ll help you make some coffee.”

In the kitchen they got the coffee started and sat down at the kitchen table together. Margaret Scully covered her daughter’s hand with her own and looked into crystal blue eyes. “It does my heart good to see you happy, Dana. I must admit, I was afraid it was something I wouldn’t ever see.”

Dana smiled and placed her other hand over her mother’s. “I am happy. I have been ever since Jess became a part of my life.”

Maggie nodded, her eyes welling. “And for that I’ll always love her.” They hugged. “It feels so good to have all my kids here for Christmas – all six of you,” she added softly.

Dana smiled. It was official – Jess was part of the Scully family whether she liked it or not.

High pitched screams let the adults know the kids had discovered that Santa had indeed visited the Scully cabin during the night.