The True Meaning of Christmas

Author's Notes: It's a little bit late but here I am finally putting out a piece where the guys are little! Yep, that's right a cute Christmas one shot. I've always wanted to do a holiday special so here's my chance to do just that! By the way, this is going to be a Raph and Don centric story. Since I love seeing those two together, I figured it was time I do a story about them. In this story, the guys are 8 years old. Italics will denote character thoughts. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Disclaimer: I don't own anything TMNT related.

Summary: It's the Christmas season. The time for goodwill, good cheer and peace to everyone, however, chibi Raphael doesn't think so. When chibi Donatello tries to intervene, Raph learns an invaluable lesson that he'll never forget.

Genre: Spiritual/General

Raphael's point of view

I don't like this one bit. How come I gotta go topside tonight with the others? All those bright shiny lights, tons of people yapping their traps, shopping bags filled to the brim with presents and all of that food that I'll probably never get to taste!

Christmas who needs it! I sure don't! Besides, it only comes once a year. So why does everyone suddenly get so excited? I mean, some old fat guy named Santa, gets in his dumb red sleigh that's led by flying reindeers (yeah right!) and travels the world delivering gifts to all the good little boys and girls.

That's a load of bull! There's no such thing as Santa Claus or good little boys and good little girls. Then again, maybe I'm being a bit too harsh but I'm only stating the truth.

Besides, the truth hurts doesn't it?

"Raphael?"

Momentarily pulled away from his musings, young Raph looked up into the kind face of Master Splinter. He looked slightly worried.

"Are you all right?"

Not wanting to let his father or his brothers know that he was unhappy and just a bit uncomfortable, he smiled ever so slightly.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

Master Splinter didn't really look convinced by my words but he let the subject drop. We continued walking in the sewer tunnels until we reached a manhole cover.

Splinter climbed up the ladder and lifted it with ease. Then he cautiously peered out to see if the coast was clear. Once he was sure everything was all right, he went up first. One by one, the rest of us proceeded to join him.

Just like I thought, as far as the eye could see, stores and houses alike were decorated with Christmas lights of varying colors. There were decorations shaped like snowmen, reindeer, Santa Claus and even three men, a woman and a baby.

Three men, a woman and a baby? Didn't Splinter mention something about them a few days ago?

Shaking my head, I decided that I would at least try to have some fun. Try being the key word.

"All of you stay close to me. I do not want any of you getting lost."

"Yes sensei!" We all chorused.

As we walked down the street, I could hear Mikey's animated voice along with Don's quiet voice readily agreeing with Mikey. As usual, Leo was merely observing his surroundings.

And me?

I was trailing behind the others, scowling. I really didn't want to be here. Seeing all of the normal kids with treats, tugging on their parent's hands to hurry up, running ahead of their parents to admire all of the decorations or listening to the carolers sing was making me dislike Christmas even further.

How could they have the nerve to be so jolly and friendly with one another when there was so much pain and suffering in the world? I'm sure they didn't pay attention to the woman who got mugged the other day. Or what about the man who was killed in Central Park two weeks ago?

And don't even get me started on the other crimes that occur in the Big Apple. People sure knew how to turn a blind eye to all of that but come Christmas, suddenly everyone was being kind and saying over and over, "Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!"

It was enough to make me sick.

As I continued to sulk and brood, I failed to notice that the others were way ahead of me.

Donatello's point of view

I knew I should have stayed close to Master Splinter but Raph was falling further and further behind. I didn't want him getting left behind so I purposely waited until Master Splinter wasn't looking and went to Raph.

He was walking slowly with his arms crossed over his chest and his head was down. When I caught up to him, he didn't even seem to notice that I was walking besides him.

It wasn't until he looked up and noticed that Splinter and the others were gone that he actually took action. Frantically, he scanned the crowd in hopes of catching a glimpse of Splinter, Leo, Mikey or myself. When that didn't work, he took a deep breath and then began to grumble.

As I listened to him grumble, I could have sworn I heard something along the lines of "Well, isn't this just peachy. Not only am I stuck out here but now I'm lost."

He was about to walk off into the crowd when I cleared my throat. His head snapped in my direction. For some reason, he looked surprised to see me. Recovering from his shock, he narrowed his eyes as he said, "And just when where you going to let me know you were standing there!"

I sighed quietly. "You looked like you were thinking about something."

Better to dodge the question than to answer it.

He folded his arms over his chest again and began walking. I took my place besides him, deciding that I wouldn't bother him. Something was really troubling him so I was going to wait until he was ready to talk.

As we walked, I glanced over in his direction a few times. He had gone back to looking like the world had just ended and he was the only survivor.

I've never seen Raph like this before. Did something happen before I reached him?

I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn't notice Raph stop until I ran into his back. He didn't even take the time to rebuke me let alone glare at me. That's when I knew something was definitely up!

Just as I was about to question him, he asked me something that I'll never forget.

"Donnie, why are people so mean and cruel?"

My eyes widened as my jaw hit the floor. I was truly and honestly shocked by this question. Usually, these sort of questions came from Mikey.

Why would Raph be asking this question? He has never been concerned about humans before so where is this coming from?

When I finally came back to my senses, I cleared my throat and searched my mind for a plausible answer. I couldn't give him a sugar coated answer and I sure as shell couldn't ignore his question either.

I bit my lower lip as his serious gaze settled upon me. Unable to bear him looking at me with such a somber look on his face, I looked down as I said, "I don't know."

For a second, I thought he was going to yell and accuse me of knowing the answer but instead, he sighed and kept walking. I stood still for a moment before it finally dawned on me.

Instead of Raph going to Splinter about this, he chose me! I couldn't believe it. Raph and I never spent much time together let alone conversing with one another. You could only imagine how happy I was to have Raph trying to talk to me about something so serious.

I caught up to him and gently tugged on his coat sleeve. He stopped walking and looked at me. His face was unreadable. Not to be deterred by his dreary mood, I began pulling him in another direction.

He didn't put up a fight or anything. He simply followed after me.

Raphael's point of view

I watched as Donnie quickly wove in and out of the crowd. I took special care to make sure I didn't lose sight of him. If I did, then I'm sure Master Splinter would have something else to lecture me about when he found me.

When Donnie finally stopped, I stood completely still. It was as if my body was paralyzed, almost frozen with fear. I was helpless and no matter how much I tried to speak, I couldn't.

Donnie turned around and smiled up at me. His smile quickly vanished when he noticed that something was wrong. He came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder. I didn't even acknowledge him.

I just continued to stare ahead of me.

By now, Donnie must have been beyond worried. When I could no longer hear his voice, I figured that he must have went to find someone to help him since his solitary efforts had proven to be futile.

My body began to shake as my knees buckled. I fell to my knees as I still stared straight ahead. Minutes went by until I felt myself being carefully picked up. Vaguely, I could hear Donnie's voice along with an older, softer voice.

"Master Splinter?" I mumbled.

"No dear child. That isn't my name."

I snuggled deeper into their arms, clinging to them as if my life depended on it. I heard soft footsteps followed by a deep, calming voice. "Sister, is everything all right?"

I didn't even bother looking up. I just buried my face into her clothes.

"Yes, everything is fine Father. We just have some visitors."

I heard the footsteps again, but this time, they sounded like they were leaving. She sat down on one of the pews and gently removed my arms from around her then she smiled warmly at me. Next, she looked at Donnie and patted the seat next to her. He took the hint and sat down.

For a moment, all was quiet until she spoke again.

"Your brother was quite worried about you. He tells me that you suddenly wouldn't move or speak. Now I'm not normally a snoop but would you be so kind as to tell me what happened?"

Looking into her gray eyes, I saw such kindness that I thought even the coldest heart would melt if they stared into them long enough. I looked away and focused all of my attention on the glass windows. Various shades of blue, green, red and pink graced the windows. If I wasn't mistaken, I could have sworn I saw a picture of that woman and baby again.

As I continued looking everywhere but at the nun, I decided that I wasn't going to tell her what happened.

Donatello's point of view

I didn't think Raph would have such an adverse reaction to a church. He wanted to know why people were cruel and mean, so I thought that the best person (aside from Master Splinter) to give him an answer would be a priest or a nun.

When we got to the church though, Raph looked absolutely terrified. Had I done more harm than good? I only wanted to help him but instead it looks like I made things worse.

"I can tell that you both are fine young boys and care for each other a great deal. But I can not help either of you if I do not know what the problem is."

Looking at Raph and then back at the nun, I decided to take a chance and tell her what I knew.

"My brothers and I along with our father were trying to enjoy the holidays like everyone else. While we were walking, I noticed that Raph didn't look too happy. He was falling behind and I didn't want him being alone. I decided to go with him but he still seemed so unhappy. He even asked me…"

Before I had the chance to finish speaking, I was interrupted. "SHUT UP DONNIE! Just shut up! She doesn't need to know!"

"But Raph…" I said in a small voice.

"But nothing. Why'd you even come with me? Had I known you were going to bring me here then I would have told you to go back to the others! I can't believe you did this to me!"

"But Raph, I was only trying to help."

I could feel the tears gathering in my eyes. I honestly wanted to help Raph and instead I blew it. I pulled my legs to me, folded my arms and laid my head on them.

I never knew failing to help a loved one could hurt so much.

Raphael's point of view

I was breathing heavily as I clenched my fists. Quickly, I got up from the nun's lap and turned my back to her. Of all the places, Donnie just had to bring me to a church!

Was he trying to be funny? Couldn't he tell this was a part of the problem? Jeez, I really hate Christmas!

When I suddenly felt arms wrap around me, I went stiff like a plank of wood. Just who did this nun think she was anyway? Putting her arms around me? Asking what was wrong and hugging me! Didn't her parents teach her never to trust strangers?

"For someone so young, you seem so angry. Your brother was only trying to help and yet you lashed out at him for showing concern about you. Surely you aren't mad at him for being a good brother, are you?"

Shell.

How did this lady know so much especially since we just met! I still didn't move as I answered her. "I'm mad because he brought me to this place! There's no such thing as Christmas, goodwill or peace. People can be really mean and cruel too! They don't even accept us just because we're different! I hate them! Every single one of them makes me sick! They have the nerve to be kind and considerate to one another today but once Christmas is over, they'll go right back to hurting one another. And they'll use whatever they can to do so!"

I began struggling to get away from her but she wouldn't release me. She just held me until I expanded all of my energy.

"It's perfectly understandable to be upset with the ways of the world but you shouldn't close your heart off to people. Not all of humanity is the way you picture them to be."

"I don't believe you." I weakly argued.

She laughed softly as she hugged me even tighter. "All humans start their lives with a clean slate. Over time, however, circumstances that can not be changed, certain events, tragedies and even the death of a loved one can alter their hearts."

"But why? How can they change so easily?" I questioned hesitantly.

"That's the beauty of free will. We are free to choose what we will and won't do as long as it's not destructive or harmful. Also, it's important to keep in mind that what you do will also affect your loved ones as well as the people around you. Not only that, but it is the Lord's Will to see all of His children happy."

"Is all of that really true?"

She picked me up again and sat back down on the pew where Donnie was. She hugged me tighter as she gently whispered, "Yes."

"So then what my dad told me about a lady having her child in manager really did happen? He really does exist then?"

She laughed softly again. It was so heartwarming and melodic just like music. "Yes, Jesus Christ really does exist. And He doesn't like it when you're sad. As a matter of fact, many people have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. Most people think that Christmas is just another holiday to get gifts or to enjoy wonderful meals. There is nothing wrong with receiving gifts or enjoying Christmas meals but the true meaning of Christmas is celebrating the birth of Christ."

I sat there pondering her words until I felt something wet trickling down my cheeks. Darn having feelings and emotions! I wasn't supposed to be a softie. I was Raphael, the turtle who prided himself on being tough! Yet, here I was giving in to this lady's words.

I buried my face into her robes again and cried. I could only hope that Leo and Mikey didn't find out about this. They'd never let me hear the end of it!

Donatello's point of view

I had long ago finished crying but that didn't stop me from feeling miserable. It made me feel a little better though to see Raph finally open up to someone. I was a little bummed that it hadn't been me like I originally thought but at least he had talked to someone.

The nun smiled at me again. This time, I found myself alongside Raph hugging her. She seemed to be content with holding us in her arms. I wanted time to stand still just so I could savor this moment. Alas, it wasn't meant to be as someone coughed to get our attention.

Sister looked up to see none other than the priest from earlier. He had short brown hair and kind blue eyes. He was of average height and a little on the portly side. Sister, however, was tall and lean with loving gray eyes.

"I'm afraid that our time together has ended but can the two of you make me a promise?"

We both nodded.

"I want to see the two of you again. And next time, make sure you bring your brothers."

Nodding once again, we got up and began leaving the church. Right before we opened the door, I turned around and asked for their names. Both the nun and priest smiled kindly.

"I am Sister Helena."

"And I'm Father Douglas."

I smiled as I told them our names. "I'm Donatello and this is Raphael."

Both of them continued smiling as they saw us off. Once we were back out on the streets, we went back to the spot where we had left Master Splinter. Oddly enough, he was there waiting for us. I thought he would be tearing New York City apart looking for us. Instead, he went back to the place where we were last and waited for us to come to him.

He looked extremely happy to see us. He was even happier to discover that we were unharmed. There was no doubt that we'd get a stern lecture once we went back home though.

"I am very glad that the two of you are safe but do not think you will not be punished for disobeying the rules. Now come along. It's time to go home."

The two of us said nothing as we began the journey back home.

10 years later (Christmas Night)

Raphael's point of view

"After all these years, I can't believe I'm back here again."

"Well, we did promise her we'd come back along with our brothers."

I didn't have to look at Donnie to know that he was smiling. I could hear it in his voice.

"Are you two sure this is a good idea? Do you honestly think they'll be okay with us?"

I rolled my eyes and huffed in annoyance. "Look Fearless Leader, everything will be all right. Just trust us!"

Leo nodded, looking very apprehensive, as Mikey said, "I can't believe you guys met humans that night and never told us until now!"

"If they're anything like I remember, they'll be more than happy to meet you Mikey."

"You think so Donnie?"

I didn't say anything as I watched my brothers' playful banter. Walking forward, I opened the doors and stepped inside St. Gabrielle's Cathedral. I couldn't help the smile that came to my face when I saw Sister Helena and Father Douglas walking towards us.

It's taken me ten years to come back and visit but I'm finally here. Maybe there really is a God watching over us after all.