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Southernfrau

 

 

Christmas Memories

Disclaimer: The Lancer characters do not belong to me. I don't own them, I don't want too, it takes up enough of my time just playing with them. :)

To all the writers of Lancer Fanfic: You give me inspiration with all of your wonderful stories. Many times I find myself thinking, "I wish I had thought of that".

The landscape all around the Lancer ranch was clothed in its gray winter cloak. The Lancer hacienda stood out in stark whiteness against the muted shades of the sleeping earth. In the dark stillness of night the large white home was a beacon of light against the blackness. A shining diamond in the eyes of the family that lived within.

Outside the world may have been still, almost colorless and silent, but inside the dwelling was as busy as a beehive. The house was ringing with the happy sounds of a family preparing for Christmas. Plans were being made and the festive decorations placed around emphasized the monochromatic scene outside.

Sitting in his favorite chair sipping scotch and smoking his pipe, Murdoch Lancer’s eyes twinkled in amusement as he watched his children prepare for the coming holiday season. Christmas at Lancer had not brought this feeling of fullness to his heart since his youngest was a toddler. The Lancer patriarch shook his head and chuckled to himself. //Johnny really hasn’t changed that much. He still runs in the house. When he does stop and stay in a room for any length of time the scamp can’t be still, his hands have to be doing something.//

As if proving Murdoch’s thoughts, Johnny almost tripped into the tree as he maneuvered around the stacks of boxes that held decorations.

Gasping, Teresa admonished, “Johnny be careful! These decorations are tradition. Scott’s mother brought them here and later your mother added to them. We want them to be here for next Christmas too!”

The bark of laughter that escaped the Lancer patriarch drew all eyes in the room to his face.

“Care to share with the rest of us what you find so entertaining?” inquired Scott.

Snickering, Murdoch explained, “I was just remembering your little brother and the tree we had when he was one.”

“Oh tell us please Murdoch,” pleaded Teresa, her eyes lighting with excitement.

“Well sir, it must be a good story if it has you laughing out loud just thinking about it,” added his oldest son.

“I’m not sure I want to hear about it,” worried the youngest son. Johnny stepped to the side of the tree as if he was trying to hide in the branches, while he hung another ornament.

“All of you come sit on the couch and take a break and I’ll tell you all about how I saved the Christmas tree from Johnny that year,” chuckled Murdoch.

Placing their ornaments back in the box, Teresa and Scott hurried to the sofa to sit down. The dark haired Lancer continued to conceal himself beside the tree.

Johnny watched through the branches as his father, brother and ‘sister’ stared at the tree and motioned for him to come and take a place on the couch.

With a pout firmly planted on his face, the youngest Lancer stepped from his hideout and stomped towards the sofa, the angry jingle of his spurs ringing his displeasure. Flopping down next to his brother Johnny glared at his family.

Pausing to take in the sight of his children in one place being still and quiet brought a huge satisfied smile to Murdoch’s face.

“Johnny’s first Christmas was just a few days after his birth. He slept through the entire day. The scamp made up for it the next year though. Your little brother was still in a state of excitement over his first birthday celebration. To make matters even more hectic he learned to walk early. As soon as the rascal could crawl we had to move breakable items out of his reach. It was just our luck by Christmas he was walking and climbing. Everyday Maria would rant about the problem of keeping Juanito out of the Christmas tree, but she refused to do without one. At first Johnny would just sit and point at the tree, then he got braver and began taking candy and cookies from the branches and eating them. The night the rascal almost turned the tree over on himself by climbing it, we decided it was time to do something.”

“Oh Murdoch, why didn’t you just tell him ‘No’? admonished Teresa.

“My dear, we told that boy no so many times he thought his name was No No Johnny,” exclaimed the Lancer patriarch.

“Maybe his hard head was the wrong end to try and convince,” replied Scott with a devilish gleam in his eyes.

“We tried the spare the rod spoil the child method too. It always ended the same. Johnny’s hand would be red from being popped and Maria’s eyes would be swollen from weeping over making her baby cry.”

A snort of disbelief issued from Johnny’s mouth before he proclaimed, “Served ya right, who in their right mind puts all them bright colors and goodies in a kid’s reach and then tells him don’t touch. That’s just cruel.”

“Well son, we finally figured that out. Your mother wanted a tree. You loved looking at it, but as long as you could reach it to touch it we had a problem.”

The oldest Lancer’s eyes were dancing with delight at the rapt attention on everyone’s face. “Your very wise papa fixed that problem. I built a three-foot high box frame to go around the tree and covered the sides with chicken wire. It wasn’t a pretty sight but it kept him out of the tree. Of course by the next year Johnny figured out he could climb the chicken wire. I ended up making a top and bottom out of chicken wire for it and turning it into a biddie pen. Then it was right back to fighting about the tree.”

“Sounds to me like you should have put my baby brother in the pen instead of the biddies,” suggested the blonde Lancer.

Punching his older brother in the arm Johnny proclaimed, “That’s not funny Boston. I was just a kid, kids are supposed to be curious.”

“Yes, Johnny was a very inquisitive child,” agreed the Lancer patriarch.

A wicked smile passed briefly over Scott’s face as he turned to his little brother saying, “That’s our father’s nice way of saying you were into everything.”

At the sound of Teresa’s giggling all the Lancer men looked questioningly at her. “I’m sorry. I was just wondering if Johnny got a lump of coal in his stocking for being such a handful?” inquired Murdoch’s ward.

Shaking his head no, Murdoch informed the three, “No, in fact that year he was finally big enough to do more with him. Johnny would actually sit in my lap and let me read from his Christmas picture book to him. Of course he liked the poems better than the stories because he didn’t have to wait as long for the ending.”

Jumping up from the couch, Teresa exclaimed, “I know where that book is! It has Johnny Lancer written on the title page in a beautiful hand script.”

As the Lancer men watched, the young girl rushed to the bookcase retrieving the book. She brought it back and handed it to Johnny as she sat down beside him.

Looking inside the book the young gunhawk recognized his mother’s handwriting. //I wish I had been old enough to remember this stuff myself. The old man sure is getting a kick out of remembering it.// Wanting the warm feelings and happy recollections to continue Johnny leaned forward and handed the book to his father.

“Which poem or story was my favorite?”

The flash of memories that crossed Murdoch’s mind, as he took the book, creased the normally granite features of his face into lines of soft relief.

The smile seemed to melt years from his stern visage. Sitting across from his now grown baby boy he was transported back to a time when a small dark haired cherub could lighten the harshest of days with his angelic smile.

There was a period when a chubby little ball of energy would stop his whirling long enough to climb into his father’s lap. Papa’s baby boy would wrap his small arms around his neck and stare at him with deep azure blue eyes. Bobbing his head up and down, the riot of baby soft black curls bouncing with each movement. Murdoch’s pride and joy would plead ‘tell a story papa.’

The Lancer patriarch’s smile grew impossibly brighter as he settled the book on his lap. “I don’t even have to open it to remember your favorite page. It was a poem called ‘He Comes In The Night’ by Hayden McAllister. Murdoch began reciting the poem.

“He comes in the night!
He comes in the night!
He softly and silently comes;
When little brown heads,
On pillows of white,
Are dreaming of bugles and drums.”

The stunned faces of his siblings turned to stare at Johnny when he recited the last verse with his father.

Murdoch’s pleasure over his youngest son’s remembrance of the poem caused him to blurt out. “I’m not surprised you remembered. You would insist we read this poem every night. I would read it and then choose another page to read. Then you would demand we go back and read your poem again. For every page I chose to read, we had to go back and read yours again.

Snorting, Johnny replied, “And you let me get away with that.”

Before his father could answer the youngest Lancer leaped from the sofa, plopped down on Murdoch’s lap, gazed into his eyes, and then nodded his head up and down imploring, “Tell me a story, Papa.”

Rolling around the couch in fits of laughter, Scott and Teresa could not believe what they had just witnessed.

The shocked look plastered on the eldest Lancer’s face caused the young gunhawk to fall off his father’s lap and flounder around the floor. His infectious giggle egging his siblings on.

Finally the Lancer patriarch cleared his throat and wondered out loud, “I guess Johnny has gotten too big to lock in the biddie pen now.”

When the laughter died down, Johnny picked himself up from the floor, wiped the tears of joy from his face, while his siblings did the same.

“Please finish the poem, Sir. I don’t recall ever having heard that one. It must be very good if it kept my little brother the human tornado still long enough to listen.”

With everyone settled back down on the sofa Murdoch sat up in his chair, opened the book and read the poem that had once been much loved by his youngest son.

“He comes in the night!
He comes in the night!
He softly and silently comes;
While little brown heads
On pillows of white,
Are dreaming of bugles and drums.
He cuts through the snow
Like a ship through the foam,
While little white snowflakes swirl.
Who tells him? No one knows!
But he finds the bedside
Of each good boy and girl.
He comes in the night!
He comes in the night!
He softly and silently comes.
While little brown heads
On pillows of white,
Are dreaming of bugles and drums.”

By Hayden McAllister

“That’s was lovely,” announced Teresa. “I think we should make it a Lancer Christmas tradition to come together one night during the holiday season and read that poem. One day we’ll have little ones of our own to hear it.”

“I think we should read it Christmas Eve night. After all it is about a visit from Father Christmas,” added Scott.

The pleasure on the Lancer patriarch’s face over the making of new Christmas memories and traditions made him seem much more approachable and agreeable than normal.

Looking at the book in his father’s lap Johnny proclaimed, “I bet I liked that poem because of the picture of the rocking horse on the page. It looks like Barranca.”

Leaning forward so they could see the illustration their brother was talking about, Teresa and Scott agreed that it did favor Barranca.

“Guess that’s why I was so drawn to Barranca, maybe I remembered that palomino in the book,” ventured Johnny.

“More than likely you were drawn to Barranca because he looks like the jumper/rocking horse Father Christmas brought you that year. You loved that horse with a passion, but you were rough on it,” reminisced Murdoch.

“What is a jumper/rocking horse,” inquired the blonde Lancer.

“It was a carved wooden horse that was attached inside a wooden frame with four springs. If you shifted your weight to the back or front it would rock like a regular rocking horse. If you bounced, the horse would jump up and down inside the frame. Needless to say your little brother made it jump a lot. In fact, he bounced so hard the horse, frame and all ,would start scooting across the floor. That’s what etched that long groove in the side of my desk. Johnny got caught against my desk one day, but kept right on jumping,” explained the gray haired Lancer.

Sitting up excitedly, Johnny interjected, “Hey! I think I remember bouncing on something over in front of the big window.”

Nodding his head in affirmation Murdoch included, “That’s exactly where you rode it. Every night we had to fight with you about getting off of it to go to bed.”

“What did you call your gallant steed, little brother?”

Shrugging his shoulders as he looked to Murdoch for the answer, Johnny’s face showed his surprise as his father replied “Barranca.”

“How could a two year old come up with a name like Barranca?” pondered Scott.

“Johnny would bounce so hard and fast on the horse, the frame would lift off the floor sometimes. Maria would try to get him to calm down and go slower. It wouldn’t be long before he sped back up and his mother would say, ‘Juanito, stop trying to jump the grand Barranca.’ She told him so many times I guess the words stuck with him. Whenever Johnny wanted to play on the horse he would say ’jump Barranca’ to let us know.”

“Your subconscious mind must have recalled that repressed memory when it was stimulated by a visual reminder, causing you to name your new palomino Barranca, little brother.”

“Huh,” grunted the former gunslinger.

“The name was stuck in the back of your mind. When you saw Barranca you remembered it,” clarified the blonde Lancer.

“Oh yeah, that’s probably it,” agreed the dark haired Lancer.

These Christmas memories are very nice and I could listen all night. However we need to finish the decorating. We are having the Christmas party for the children at the orphanage in two days ,” announced Lancer’s only boss lady.

The three young people of Lancer stood and began to walk back towards the tree. Murdoch reached out and snagged his youngest son’s arm, “Johnny, I’m glad you remembered some of your time here as a toddler.”

Gazing into his father’s eyes the ex-gunfighter felt flushed with an unfamiliar warmth over the shared memories as he whispered, “Me too.”

A jovial smile softened Murdoch’s stern mouth as he added, “If you ever want to visit your first Barranca, he is in the attic. If you’re lucky maybe one day you’ll have a son who will cherish it as much as you did.”

“Yeah, if I’m lucky, I’ll have a son with his Uncle Scott’s temperament. Cause if I had one with your temper or mine I might have to head back to the border.”

The former gunslinger jumped and shouted in surprise when his father did something he didn’t remember. Murdoch reached out and swatted Johnny’s backside announcing, “That’s for having a smart aleck mouth.”

Turning to give his father a sardonic grin and a quick wink Johnny retorted, “Let her buck.”

It was plain to see the light of love shining in the eyes of father and son.

For a time love in the Lancer house lay dormant like the earth in winter. Just as the return of the sun’s warmth in the Spring brings rebirth to nature, the arrival of the Lancer sons was reawakening their father’s love.

 

 

~end~
Christmas is the season of love! Merry Christmas Y’all from SC, by way of the Lancer hacienda, straight to you! Southernfrau and JIMM 

 

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