December is the best month of the year at the Rainbow Bridge. For the dogs there is snow to romp in and the angels always have time to toss snowballs for them to chase. The cats enjoy patting at the snowflakes as they fall, and then curling up near the fireplace for a nice winter's nap.
But it is the lights that make this time so special. Winter on the Earth, their former home, is a time of lengthening darkness, and in December candles glow all around the globe beginning with Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, and continuing on right through the New Year's festivities. At the Bridge the glow of these candles is reflected in all of the trees, and in the hearts of every Bridgekid as they observe the month in their own special way; with memories of the lives, and the loved ones they left behind.
For most it is a time of quiet joy, but each year there are always a few who draw apart..
Near to midnight, "home time" on December 24 Charlie realized someone was missing from the Hale gathering. "I'll be right back," he told his siblings. He passed many similar groupings as he hurried down the well worn path, many friends called out to him, but he only acknowledge the greetings with a wave and continued on. The path ended at the Rainbow, and there he found a small group of newcomers, each sitting quietly, alone. One of these, the missing Sandifur, was crouched at the very edge, his stumpy tail twitching rapidly, as he stared at the scene below.
"You are missing the party, little brother," Charlie said.
"I don't care," replied Sandifur, "I don't like Christmas anyway. "
Charlie only smiled. "I felt the same way my first year. Do you remember your very first Christmas with Mom and Dad? Remember the new scratching tree they gave us that year, and the catnip mice? And remember all the good things we got to eat? That was a great time, wasn't it?" Sandifur nodded, still gazing intently below. "I want to go back."
"I did too, " Charlie said, licking gently at his brother's ear. "But we can't, baby brother. This is our place now." "But it's Christmas, and Mom and Dad miss us so much. Look, mom is lighting a candle right now, just for us and she is crying."
"Christmas Eve is her time to remember, little one, but tomorrow she will pass out the presents to all of our brothers and sisters, and she will be happy again. I want to show you something. Come with me."
Together the two kiddens climbed the arch of the Rainbow, and at the very top Charlie stopped. "Do you see that big silver cloud over there? Watch closely."
As Sandifur gazed the cloud began to swirl and gradually an image came into view. The clearing where he had left his family, and a larger gathering around the big, glowing pine tree. He could see the dogs, many more of them than when he had left, playing fetch and tug of war, and the kiddens, so many kiddens, sleeping in a heap, their soggy catnip mice forgotten in the grass.
Suddenly the kiddens all woke up, and the dogs ceased their play and stared into the darkness beyond the clearing, tails wagging in greeting.
And then, much to Sandifur's amazement, two humans stepped into the light."
"Hurry, Charlie, we have to go back," he said. " Mom and Dad, they're here!"
"Not just yet, Sandy. That cloud is our Window into Tomorrow. Come back with me now, and join the others. The reunion will come. We have been promised."
Sandy reluctantly pulled his gaze away from the vision of the future, and followed Charlie. They found the others waiting for them at the base of the rainbow. "Is it time?" Charlie asked.
Terrie nodded, "They are waiting."
All of the Hale Bridgekids drew together, and looked over the edge, and along the entire length of the rainbow similar groups were gathered, all looking down at their former homes.
Suddenly the light of a million candles from the Earth met the glow from the Rainbow Bridge. "Now," Charlie whispered.
In unison three words were repeated again and again, and as they were spoken they merged with the bridge of light, flowing from the rainbow to the earth, and back again in ever increasing brilliance, and the colors of the rainbow merged with the light. "I love you," they all said, and the love entered every heart of the pet parents on earth, and the hearts of those who gathered at the rainbow.
"Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad," Sandifur whispered again, watching the lights slowly fade. "I love you. I will be waiting."
"I will look ahead for there is our tomorrow."