A whispery non-Angela voice-over prays:
Angel of God, a guardian dear,
To whom God's Love entrusts me here,
And with this day give and serve, to life,
to guard, to hold, and to guide, amen…
…as Rickie Vasquez stumbles and falls on his hands and knees in the snow. He's all beat up and crying. He crouches over the snow and spits out a mouthful of blood as red as holly berries. It's kind of not a festive thing, though. He pulls himself up, still crying, and staggers around the middle of a crowded sidewalk as the citizens of Don't-Give-A-Shitsville push by around him. Merry Stinkin' Christmas. Rickie shuffles off down a dark alleyway. The camera pans over to show a girl with a guitar sitting on the curb, watching him go. The girl is dressed in a raggedy coat and looks an awful lot like Juliana Hatfield. Wow, I knew solo careers could be hard, but I had no idea. She turns away and begins playing chords to "Silent Night." The notes fade out to the sound of wind blowing…
We're at Minute 00:45. Are you choking back tears yet? I am. Jeez.
…"Silent Night" fades in again, this time as piano chords. At the Chase house, Angela sits at the piano, casually plinking the keys with one hand. Tasteful holiday knickknacks abound. Patty don't go for that flocked crap. Danielle complains that she's not getting a bike for Christmas. "It's not fair! Angela got a new bike when she was eleven." "What do you do? Keep, like, a running tally of everything we bought for Angela?" asks Graham. "Well, yeah," says Danielle. She keeps it in a special Excel spreadsheet and occasionally migrates data from her FileMaker Pro log of "Things Angela Didn't Get Grounded For," which is in turn cross-indexed with the microfilm copies of Angela's diary.
Patty frets about getting a Christmas card from some people who she'd dropped from the list (a huge breach of Pattyquette); Danielle's radar picks up on the fact that Angela has new boots; Graham walks around with a string of lights in that classic let's-walk-around-clumsily-with-a-string-of-lights-to-signify-the-freneticness-of-the-holiday-season way. Angela just sits there. "How come we never go to church?" she asks. Everyone stops talking. "Uhhhh…well," says Graham. Patty starts saying, "Well, you know, in the last few years you girls, um -- haven't shown much enthusiasm…" "So, do you believe in God?" asks Angela. More silence. Patty and Graham do tag-team hemming and hawing about believing in God without going to church, Graham being raised Catholic, blah blah. "We have certain, uh, certain differences," stammers Patty. "Which -- which doesn't mean that we don't --" Danielle stomps up from behind them and interrupts. "Do we have to keep talking about religion? It's Christmas."
Cut to a music classroom, where the So-Called High School Multicultural Joy Choir sings "Away in a Manger." It's an unusually schmaltzy little moment for MSCL, but then again, it's Christmas. Out in the hallway, Rayanne and Angela walk by. "People really get swept up in this Christmas thing, huh?" says Rayanne. She's sporting a huge, pointy purple knit cap with a little pom-pom on top that makes her look for all the world like a demented sock monkey. Angela suddenly notices Rickie approaching them. "Oh my God!" she says. He's got a bruised eye. He says he's fine; he was running to catch the bus and slipped on some ice, and it was so embarrassing, blah blah. Angela and Rayanne just stare at him a moment. "So you landed on your face or something?" Angela asks. "Oh, I don't know -- how am I supposed to know?" says Rickie, distractedly. "Does anybody have quarters? I need to get a candy bar before sosh." (I guess the word would be "soc," since he means "social studies." But that just doesn't look right. ["Sociology? But would a high school offer a sociology class? I've always wondered about that." -- Sars]) Rayanne gives Rickie some change. Angela keeps staring at him, and Rickie gives her a nervous look before he hurries off. Angela pulls Rayanne aside and asks her if she thinks it's true that Rickie fell. "Sure, probably…I don't know," says Rayanne, shiftily. "See, Rickie has this, like, tendency to get beat up, and he doesn't always love talking about it," she explains.