Tonight we saw the last episode in season eleven and appropriately, it had a Christmas theme complete with the heart-warming events that surround the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the time when families get together. We’ve said before how Leroy Jethro Gibbs is the patriarch of a dysfunctional family of singles. That was true until Jimmy Palmer got married in a previous season. Tonight we discover new facts about Ellie Bishop–she has a husband and is close to her family. This makes her seem more real to us.

As this episode develops, it is Gibbs’ family approaching Christmas together, gathered around Jethro. A beautiful Christmas tree adorns the agents’ bay. Abby is decked out in a pretty costume and plays Santa by distributing her freshly made “lab cookies.” Ellie enthusiastically gobbles some of these ginger treats, reminding Diane of the special cookies David’s mother lovingly made each Christmas for her family. One type that she made was called “Church windows,” with colored marshmallows with dark chocolate. But we digress, which we hope is okay. After all, Christmas is next week!

Back to our favorite team. Tony longs for a coconut drink on a beach. Then disaster strikes a small child, which makes us sad. McGee’s friends little girl falls victim to a mystery illness. A mystery man appears at Director Vance’s house, wanting to bring presents to his children. Vance rebuffs efforts by Jackie’s father to be reconciled and orders Lamar Addison off his property. All of the Christmas plans are put on hold while Gibbs and his dedicated agents try to stop a crazy person. Eight children, then dozens fall ill with the same symptoms. What is causing the sickness? Toxic mold? Smallpox? Some strange pneumonia?

Jimmy Palmer is so freaked out at the idea of small children being at risk that he threatens to put his adoption plans on hold. Abby straightens him out in a hurry, and her lecture turns out to be a turning point of the drama. “At this time of the year, what is infectious is optimism, joy, kindness, and faith.” Director Vance overhears and has a change of heart. What results is tender and compassionate. Bravo Director Vance. Jackie would approve of your decision.

In a desperate attempt to find answers, Ellie offends the parents of a young girl lying ill in the hospital. The writers show her learning curve clearly. Ziva had much to learn about working for NCIS. Yet, because she was a Mossad agent and not an analyst, her issues were quite different from Ellie’s. The final scene shows Gibbs sampling Ellie’s mother’s coffee cake when the screen turns to black and white except for the lighted Christmas tree. We thought this brought such beauty to a somewhat dark episode. End credits on the screen wish all our service men and women “happy holidays.” Our hearts and prayers are with our soldiers and their families to experience the love of Jesus. He is the greatest gift ever given.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, Diane and David Munson