Ducky (David McCallum) got a Christmas miracle of sorts on Tuesday's episode of NCIS when, improbably, his deceased mother Victoria became the missing link in the case of the week.

Viewers were treated to more flashbacks featuring Young Ducky (Adam Campbell), and discovered that Ducky's relationship with his mother was even more complicated than we initially thought. Turns out, Ducky once saved his mother from marrying a con man — but has been haunted by the decision for decades, after seeing how upset his mother was upon learning that her fiancé (as she believed) abandoned her. Inviting his mother to come and live with him in America was Young Ducky's way of trying to make amends.

And his guilt is only hammered home when the investigation turns up a classified ad his mother placed shortly before her death, looking for her long-lost love even as she was experiencing the final stages of Alzheimer's disease. Sad!

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As present-day Ducky explains in a conversation with the Ghost of Ducky Past, though he thought he was protecting his mother and had the best of intentions at the time, he actually ended up taking away her "one and only chance at true love," and she wound up alone — just like Ducky is now, which is why the regret he feels about his decision is so painful.

But in actuality, that's not exactly the case. Ducky learns that his mother, on the contrary, ended up having a very fulfilling romantic relationship with her gardener(!) in the last years of her life, despite a 25-year age difference between them. And it was actually the gardener who placed the classified ad, after Victoria became convinced that she saw her ex-fiancé outside a theater after a performance of The Nutcracker. (In reality, it was her ex-fiancé's nephew, who provides the missing puzzle piece to the case of the week when his father-in-law is murdered.)

And so Ducky gets a makeshift family reunion, with he and the rest of the NCIS team exchanging presents along with his mother's green-thumbed beau at the end of the episode. Guess there really is no place like home for the holidays.

NCIS returns with new episodes in January.

(Full disclosure: is owned by CBS.)