When Inna arrived for Christmas break that year, she had a surprise guest with her. He was a slight man in his mid twenties with dark hair, brown eyes, and a goatee. He wore eyeglasses.
"This is my fiance, Daniel Roth," she told Yuri and Elspeth. "Daniel, this is my father, Yuri Evgenevich, and my stepmother, Elya."
"I'm pleased to meet you." Daniel smiled as he shook hands with the stunned Romanovs.
"It's nice to meet you as well," said Elspeth. "Come on into the living room and have a seat on the sofa. I'll brew a pot of coffee."
Yuri led Inna and Daniel into the living room while Elspeth started the coffee. When it was ready, she took two cups into the living room and handed them to Daniel and Inna, who were sitting together on the sofa. Then she returned and brought a cup for Yuri, who was sitting in the recliner, and one for herself.
"Now, tell me about this engagement," said Yuri. "It is first time I hear about it."
"Daniel and I have known each other for long time," Inna told her father. "We were together for awhile, then break up, but now we are together again."
"I was a bit hesitant, as I didn't feel sure Inna's decision to convert was sincere," added Daniel. "Your daughter is a wonderful young woman, and she means the world to me, but she is also very young, and wasn't raised in a Jewish household. I was afraid she was only infatuated, and that her desire to take this life-changing step would fade with time, but as time went by, I began to realize how mature she is for her age, and also how much she loves me. When I realized what a treasure she is, I knew I'd be a fool to let her get away."
"I only now just meet you for first time," said Yuri. "How do I know you will be good provider for my daughter?"
"I've been a rabbi at an established synagogue for five years," Daniel replied. "My congregation consists of about one hundred members. We are doing very well financially."
"But I still know nothing about your family, your background."
Daniel sighed. "My great grandparents immigrated to the United States almost a hundred years ago to escape a pogrom. I grew up in Brooklyn. My father is a dentist, and my mother sells Avon. I have a younger sister named Rachel. She graduates this year with a degree in education."
Yuri grinned. "It sound to me like your background is similar to my own. Welcome to my family."
Daniel smiled back. "Thank you, sir. Inna has told me many wonderful things about you and your wife."
"Our younger daughter, Zoya, will be home from work in a couple of hours," said Elspeth. "I can't wait for you to meet her, and then on Christmas day, Pete and Annie will be here with their families."
Daniel chuckled. "It sounds like I'll be gaining quite a few more family members."
On Christmas morning, Annie and Bob arrived first with nine-year-old Tyson and six-year-old Tara. Elspeth introduced them to Daniel.
"Are you and Inna really gonna get married?" asked Tyson.
"Yes, we are," Daniel told him. "Right after Inna graduates this summer."
"Cool!" said Tyson.
Thirty minutes later, Pete and Astrid arrived with eight-year-old Jurgen, six-year-old Rainer, and nine-month-old Ella. In her baby pink jump suit with matching pullover and shoes, with her big blue eyes and plump cheeks, the little girl was gorgeous.
"Oh, she's adorable!" Daniel exclaimed. "May I hold her?"
Astrid chuckled. "If she will let you!"
Daniel took the baby from her, and a moment later, she primped up and began to cry. Daniel bounced her on his knee and sang 'The Wheels On The Bus' to her, and within seconds, she was giggling.
Inna smiled as she looked on.
"Merry Christmas, Granny!" called Daisy from the middle of the living room floor, where she sat surrounded by toys.
"Merry Christmas, sweetie," replied Jewel as she slowly made her way into the living room.
"Look what Santa brought me!" Daisy picked her Amazing Amy doll up and carried it to her grandmother.
"Yeah, sweetie, that's real nice," said Jewel.
"Did you sleep well, Mom?" Alison exchanged worried glances with her husband.
"Well as could be expected, considering all that's wrong with me," Jewel replied. "Alan came to me in a dream again last night. He said heaven's too lovely to describe, but he misses me." With a sigh, she sat down at the table.
"Well, we love you and are happy to have you here with us this Christmas," her daughter told her. "Here, have some orange juice."
Denny and Darya arrived a couple of hours later.
"How have you been, dear?" Alison asked her daughter-in-law as she embraced her.
"It is not as bad as I thought it would be," Darya replied. "I hardly ever get sick at all."
"I was that way with Denny," said Alison. "I was much sicker with Daisy."
Darya laughed. "That must mean I will have boy, then."
"I sure hope so," said Denny.
"Denny! Dasha!" Daisy ran to her brother and his wife. "Look what Santa brought me! She can say lots of things!"
Darya smiled. "That is nice. I will have real baby next summer."
Daisy's eyes grew wide. "Really?"
Denny laughed. "Really!"
They walked into the living room, where Jewel sat on the sofa, staring glumly ahead.
"Hey, Granny!" Denny greeted her. She started, then looked at him. "How are you?"
"I'm all right, I guess," she replied. "Just missing your Granddaddy real bad."
"Aw, I miss him too," Denny replied, giving his grandmother a hug. "But it's Christmas, and we're all together, and there will be a new little one in the summer."
Jewel nodded and smiled, but he could see tears in her eyes.