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Southernfrau

 

 

Let It Be Christmas
Disclaimer: I have to say they don't belong to me BUT that don't mean I got to believe it!

This story attempts to portray some of the emotions, feelings, memories, sights and sounds represented in the words of the song. In some instances I have placed part of the verses of the song into the words of the story or dialogue. Basically the song is about what comprises Christmas for Alan Jackson, my story tells about the things that make the day and season memorable for the Lancers.  The day isn't about bought presents, but about shared presence.

Warnings: NONE (and yes I really wrote it!) No cussing, no fighting, no killing, hel...........heck I'm even nice to Teresa in this.  If this puts you to sleep consider it a Lancer Bedtime story and dream sweet dreams of your favorite Lancer.

Thanks and acknowledgements to: Barb D., Kissimmeme and Terry for the beta read. Winj, I kidnapped Scotland Bound Murdoch to use in this story. Kona, I stole your squeaky door and moved it upstairs. Janet, for letting me use the Talbots. Kat P., I was nice to Teresa just for you. ;-) Tina C., I owed you a story for Johnny's Angel

Let It Be Christmas (Words and Music by Alan Jackson)
Let it be Christmas everywhere
In the hearts of all people both near and afar
Christmas everywhere
Feel the love of the season wherever you are
On the small country roads lined with green mistletoe
Big city streets where a thousand lights glow

Let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let every heart sing let every bell ring
The story of hope and joy and peace
And let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let anger and fear and hate disappear
Let there be love that lasts through the year
And let it be Christmas
Christmas everywhere

Let it be Christmas everywhere
With the gold and the silver, the green and the red
Christmas everywhere
In the smiles of all children asleep in their beds
In the eyes of young babies their first fallen snow
Elderlys' memories that never grow old

Let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let every heart sing let every bell ring
The story of hope and joy and peace
And let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let anger and fear and hate disappear
Let there be love that lasts through the year
And let it be Christmas
Christmas everywhere

Let it be Christmas everywhere
In the songs that we sing and the gifts that we bring
Christmas everywhere
In what this day means and what we believe
From the sandy white beaches where blue water rolls
Snow covered mountains and valley below

Let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let every heart sing let every bell ring
The story of hope and joy and peace
And let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let anger and fear and hate disappear
Let there be love that lasts through the year
And let it be Christmas
Christmas everywhere
Christmas everywhere
Christmas everywhere

 

The smells of Christmas hung as heavy in the air as the stockings from the mantle. The leaping, flickering, bright red, orange and yellow tongues of flames danced merrily in the great room fireplace. The warmth emanating from them chasing the chill from the air and accentuating the darkness in the corners.

The heady scent of the fir tree with its green limbs dressed in Christmas baubles rose with the heated air to swirl and mingle with the sweet and enticing odors of sugar cookies, gingerbread men and popcorn garland.

The snapping, popping and hissing of the logs as they gave up the last of their earthly substance made a soothing sound on this holy night.

Sitting in his favorite chair by the fireplace, the Lancer patriarch sipped his scotch. /Let the cold winds of winter blow. I have all the warmth I need right here. A fire for my body, scotch for my blood and my sons for my heart. I am a lucky man./

Click, click, click, click. Murdoch smiled at the sounds of the Lancer's collie Lady's nails as her dainty white socked paws crossed the terra cotta tiles of the kitchen floor. Johnny's loyal companion stopped in the doorway and sat. She gazed at Murdoch, tilting her head, pink tongue quivering as she panted before whimpering at the gray haired old man.

"It's okay Lady. Come here."

The glow from the fire showed the burnished highlights in her dark patches of fur, as she slipped softly by the inviting heat. Lady headed straight to Murdoch's chair and laid her head in his lap. The light of the fire reflected in her chocolate brown eyes.

Murdoch chuckled as he scratched behind her ears and then ran his fingers through her thick, soft fur. He knew the fur was clean and free of knots. Johnny was as meticulous about brushing and grooming the dog as he was about his horse. “You know Lady, Johnny spoils you as bad as he does Barranca." Lady cocked her head and for a second it looked as though she smiled in agreement before she gave a quiet yip.

The oldest Lancer snickered as he revealed his secrets to the trusted dog. "Everyone thinks they have me fooled. I know all about our agreement being, shall we say bent? I am quite aware that as soon as everyone has gone to bed, you will make your way upstairs, push Johnny's door open and then push it closed before taking your place to sleep on the foot of his bed. Then in the morning Teresa will stop by the room and let you out, on her way to the kitchen to start breakfast."

Lady's eyes seemed to be laughing at Murdoch as she stood on her hind legs and placed her furry white paws in his lap as she attempted to reach his face to lick him. Glancing about to make sure they were alone, the lancer patriarch leaned down to accept the token of affection.

"Did I ever tell you how you came to be here? You were born here, just like Johnny. Your great grandmother, Patty Pat, was a Christmas present from the Talbot boys on Johnny's first Christmas. You could be her twin. You look just like her. Of course Johnny was just a couple of days old and slept through Christmas, just like your grandmother did, as she was only eight weeks old at the time."

Happy memories floated to the surface of Murdoch's mind as he recalled his youngest son's second Christmas. In his mind's eye he could still see the dark haired cherubic toddler as he raced from one type of mischief to another. Patty Pat shadowing his every move.

Shaking his head, as he continued to pet the silky head of Lady, Murdoch thought fondly of Patty Pat. "Patty pulled Johnny out of as much trouble as his mother and I. She was a faithful watch dog. Many times when he was learning to walk, she would cushion his falls. Maria was forever having to mend Johnny's shirttail because Patty would put small tears in it keeping him out of harm's way. She would snatch it to keep him out of the water trough, off the stairs, away from the stove and from getting to close to the fireplace. Oh, yes, your great grandmother was as smart as you. We would leave her to watch over Johnny when he napped. If he tried to get up, she would bark to alert us."

Murdoch looked down as he felt the cold wet nose nuzzle his hands. He looked into the bright inquisitive eyes of the collie as he grinned. "You are carrying on the tradition of guarding the Lancers that your ancestor started. I am afraid it's even more of a job now. You have Scott and Johnny to keep safe and you’re doing a fine job of it too. Now, go ahead and sneak upstairs to Johnny's room. I'll pretend I didn't see you. I have a few surprises to take care of yet."

With a last caress and lick to the work hardened calloused hands, Lady gracefully made her way to the stairs. She turned and cocked her head before making a throaty sigh of good night to the oldest Lancer before slinking quietly up the stairs.

 

After finishing his scotch Murdoch stood and walked to his desk. He pulled a box from under it, that he had placed there before supper. Humming Silent Night softly to himself he strolled back to the tree. His gray-blue eyes studied the varied decorations on the tree. It was a mixture of bows, beads, gingerbread men, popcorn garland and fancy store bought glass balls. It was a thing of beauty to be sure, but Murdoch wanted it to be more than a display to holiday cheer. He wanted it to be a testament of family, love and hope, of joy to last through the year. That's why he felt he needed to add a few more trinkets to the tree.

The things he had chosen to add to the tree were not traditional ornaments, but he felt they represented his children well. Stretching to reach the top of the tree, Murdoch removed the star, then he lifted a homemade cloth doll from the box he had placed on the floor. The doll was made of white muslin, yellowed some with age. She had bright yellow yarn hair. Her lacey white dress was a little dingy with a small rip here and there. All of these were signs of the love Teresa had lavished on it. The greatest reminder of that love being the angel wings that a 10 year old Teresa had sewn on the doll when she decided that a doll named Angel should have wings. Murdoch secured the star in the doll's hands and carefully placed it on top of the tree.

Next he pulled a small black velvet bag from the box. Murdoch pulled the drawstring on the bag and turned it upside down over his left hand. A multitude of red coated tin soldiers cascaded down into his palm. Their stoic faces frozen in time. The missing chips of red color from their painted on uniform testified to the evidence that they once occupied the hours for a small blond boy. The Lancer patriarch had been pleasantly surprised when Harlan agreed to his request to send them out. Murdoch realized Scott's grandfather was probably trying to make amends for his disastrous trip west.

It took a few minutes to find a secure place among the branches to nestle each little solider. Murdoch had thought he might tie a ribbon to each uniformed man, but changed his mind when it made it look like the entire regiment had been hung. He stepped back to view his handiwork and was pleased with the effect. It appeared as though the little sentries were guarding the tree by marching up and down the lush green branches.

The old man's eyes misted over as he pulled the items that belonged to his youngest from the box. A hand craved Noah's ark with six different animals in sets of two. Murdoch's heart swelled with love and memories as he recalled Johnny's attachment to his little wooden friends. You could look at the animals and see they had been played with for many hours.

The boat was in pristine condition because Johnny had never cared for it. However, the elephants, lions, lambs, camels and cows bore the brunt of an over active two year old's busy hands. The horses were missing and Murdoch assumed Johnny had taken them with him the night Maria fled Lancer. The horses had been his favorites. One lion was missing the fob of fur from the end of his tail. It had been chewed off by a cranky, teething Johnny. There were even a few tooth marks where Patty Pat had played along too.

Murdoch chuckled aloud as he recalled the time he wore a bruise in a very delicate area after having sat down on the 'lell'punt' as Johnny called the elephant. He also remembered having to turn his boots upside down in case Johnny had dropped the little wooden creatures in them. Shaking himself from his musings, the Lancer patriarch began nestling the ark animals among the branches in the same way he had the soldiers. If it were possible the Christmas tree now glowed not only in the firelight but also with the shine of time and love.

With the tree finally bedecked to his satisfaction Murdoch headed to the wine cellar to retrieve his gifts to the younger members of the family. After three trips, beneath the tree was over flowing with packages. The oldest Lancer was pleased with his wrapping ingenuity. He had commissioned the local quilters group to make Scott, Johnny and Teresa new quilt coverings for their beds. He had taken each person's quilt and placed all their presents from him into them and then tied the bundles shut with bright ribbons.

After sitting back down in his chair, Murdoch basked in the seemingly ethereal light of love, hope and promise radiating around the tree. /Let it be Christmas!  Let anger and fear and hate disappear, let there be love to last through the year./ His eyes traveled to the base where Teresa had already placed her gifts to each family member. The ever practical girl had wrapped her packages in squares of gay red gingham cloth and tied them closed with colorful ribbons. Everyone had already been warned to be careful of the fabric because she was planning to make napkins from it after Christmas was over.

Scattered in among the pretty yet simple wrapping style of Teresa's offerings were the presents Scott had acquired for his family. Scott's were as elegant and sophisticated as his ward's were simple and practical. His oldest son had purchased all his merchandise from the East Coast from prominent companies. Scott had paid extra for all the presents to be wrapped in the colorful paper and shiny bows that were the hallmark of expensive wares. Knowing his oldest he was sure he had made appropriate choices for each person's taste.

Looking at Johnny's bundles hidden among the others, Murdoch had to grin at Johnny's artistic nature. His youngest had left all his purchases in the brown paper the store clerk had wrapped on them. Once he got them home he had used colored pencils to draw scenes or designs on each parcel. His observant son had made miniature works of art so that the paper containing the surprise was like a bonus prize. On Teresa's he had drawn little kittens with fluffy bows. Some of the bows were red, some green and others a combination of the colors in some sort of design. There were sprigs of holly and berries too. Scott's box was decorated with a beautiful snow covered cityscape. Johnny had found a picture in a book to copy and added the snow and a horse drawn sleigh to make it right for the season. Murdoch's own gift was covered with a multitude of green Christmas wreaths, inside each wreath was a Lancer L. His eyes crinkled with amusement as he noted that Lady SF had an offering from each family member as well.

Gray-blue orbs scanned the room taking in the festive touches that dressed the room for the season. The Lancer patriarch smiled in pleasure as he recalled the scene earlier in the week, when the three young people had decorated the tree and placed the greenery about the house. He could not stop the snort or the chuckle that huffed from his mouth as he relived the moment Johnny had plopped down in his lap and begged for a story. His long fingers slowly rubbed the area beside his nose and then discreetly wiped the lone tear of happiness and a full heart that escaped his eye.

Deciding it was time he turned in as well, the tall Scotsman rose nimbly from his chair, smiling as he thought he was much to excited to sleep. Murdoch had not felt his age all week; he had been running on eager anticipation.

Climbing the stairs with a conscious effort to keep his footfalls quiet, the Lancer patriarch passed his own room as he headed further down the hall to check on his children.  He turned the knob to Teresa's door, opening it half-way. He cocked his head to the side as he peered across the room to view his ward. She was laying on her side, her dark hair was splayed across the starched white pillowcase, her blankets pull up to her chin with her hands curled under her chin as she held them in place. Seeing that she was resting comfortable, Murdoch closed the door and continued his mission.

Stopping next at Scott's door, he grimaced as the hinge squeaked when he opened the door. /That needs to be oiled./ The blond Lancer lay perfectly straight, legs together, hands down by his sides, as though he were sleeping at attention. His covers were straight and not rumpled. The elder Lancer marveled at how they could look that neat while being used. Murdoch's observant eye took in the tidy and orderly appearance of Scott's room. Everything had a place and everything was in its place. He stood a minute and watched the even rise and fall of his older son's nightshirt clad chest. Having ascertained all was well, he pulled the door closed, puckering his lips as the hinge creaked in protest.

Stepping across the hall to his youngest son's room, the large hand reached out and just pushed the door open as it had not been completely closed by Lady SF earlier. Just as Scott's quarters reflected his personality and military bearing, Johnny's mirrored his. The area looked as though a tornado had whirled through. The dark haired Lancer's clothes were strewn from the door to the bed to the chair by the window. The only thing that had been hung up was his gun and holster on the bed post. One boot sat at the side of the bed, the other in front of the wash stand. Where as Scott slept in a nightshirt, Johnny slept in his long johns. Lady lifted her head and gave Murdoch a quizzical look as he stepped further into the room. He resisted the urge to pick up his son's clothes.  Johnny was sprawled across the bed on his stomach, half of his covers twisted about his legs the other half trailed down beside the bed and puddled in the floor.

Murdoch reached down and picked up the portion of blankets from the floor and placed them over his son's back. He was rewarded for his efforts by Lady, with a lick to his hands. The loyal collie then laid down beside her master and rested her head on his back. Leaving the room as quietly as he entered, Murdoch pulled the door completely shut.

Satisfied as to the comfort and safety of his family, the oldest Lancer made his way to his room. After disrobing and putting on his nightshirt, Murdoch laid out his clothes for the next day. Finally he crawled into bed, even though he thought he was to excited to sleep. With in minutes the stillness of the night save the tick of the grandfather clock, lulled him into sleep.

Peace reined in the house until 2:00 am when the intermitted clicking of dog claws paraded across Johnny's room. Lady SF whimpered lightly as she tried to nose the door open with her snout, but it was no use, when Murdoch had left, he had closed the door all the way.

Slinking back to the bed, Lady sat down and whined softly. Getting no reaction from Johnny, she stood on her hind legs and placed her furry front paws on the mattress, she ran her cold wet nose under the hair on his neck. The youngest Lancer scrunched his shoulders, pressed his face further into his pillow and mumbled, but still refused to wake. Finally his canine companion jumped up on the bed and began to vigorously lick his ear.

Johnny yawned and stretched. He cracked one eye and asked, "What are you doing, Lady? It's the middle of the night. It's time to sleep." Lady whimpered and cast her liquid brown eyes towards the door. Turning over and sitting up, Johnny saw the door was completely closed. "Do you need to go out?" Lady whimpered and jumped from the bed to go stand by the door.

Yawning and then rubbing his hands together to ward off the chill in the air, Johnny swung his legs over the side of the bed and untwisted the covers from them. He stood and walked to the door. He reached down and rubbed the collie's head, while opening the door. He commented to Lady that she wasn't supposed to close the door all the way.

Johnny escorted Lady SF to the other end of the hall and down the stairs into the great room. They walked to the French doors and he opened one for her, admonishing her not to take to long. The blast of cold air that rushed in when he opened the door made him decide to go ahead and add a log to the fire and stoke it up so it would be warm when they all arose in the morning.

Choosing a nice size log from the stack on the hearth, Johnny place it in the firebox. He used the poker to stir the coals and start the flames to snap up, waver and lick the recently added fuel. The growing flames not only added a few degrees of heat to the room, the flickering flames also faintly illuminated the Lancer's tree. That's when Johnny noticed someone had added to the mixture of decorations on the tree.

First he saw that the star at the top was now held in the hands of a cloth angel doll. He could tell it wasn't new because it wasn't pristine and pure looking. He assumed it had been Teresa's. The cheerful face on the doll brought a smile to his own face. As his eyes traveled down the tree he noticed the first of the little metal soldiers. Johnny was sure they had been Scott. He recalled Scott reminiscing about them one Sunday as the new family picnicked by a pond.

Johnny cocked his head and sucked in his breath sharply. There nestled among the branches were cows, elephants, lions, lambs and camels, two of each. He swallowed passed the lump in his throat as he realized they were his. His Mama had told him about an ark set that he had as a child. She told him the two wooden horses he carried every where with him were a part of the set. Johnny's heart swelled, causing a tightness in his chest and his eyes to sting as he thought about the fact his father had kept the little creatures in remembrance of him.

Looking at the tree with little pieces of his, Scott's and Teresa's childhood held safely in the limbs of the tree reminded him they all had a place in his father's heart. Murdoch had made the tree all the more special by putting the items that represented memories they could share with each other on it.  Johnny was sure his siblings would enjoy these surprising additions to the tree. He just needed to add the final touches, a surprise for his father.

Lady came back and scratched at the door. The dark haired Lancer rushed to let her in. "You stay here Lady. I need to get something from my room and then I'll be right back."

Taking the stairs two at a time in his socked feet, Johnny made his way swiftly to his room. He went straight to the closet and pulled out his old saddle bags that he no longer used. Opening the bag he poked his hand in and felt around for the silky fabric he knew they were wrapped in. Once he had hold of the cloth he pulled it form the compartment. In the dark of his room, with just the moonlight to illuminate it, Johnny could just make out the gay design on the silk scarf that had been his mother's.

He hastily unwrapped the objects. They were still in one piece. The horses were in a lot more of a worn condition than their ark mates already adorning the tree down stairs but they were still whole and about to be reunited.

Getting to his feet, Johnny headed quickly, back down the hall and stairs to the great room. When he stepped off the last riser, he was greeted by his canine companion. "Good girl, you waited right here. Guess what I have? A surprise for the old man. I still have the horses that go with the ark set."

Standing in front of the evergreen, Johnny searched for just the right spot to place the equines. As he looked over the possible locations, the youngest Lancer squinted his eyes causing the sparse light and colors in the room to blend in a soft, blurred muted palate. He rejoiced in the feeling of comfort, joy and contentment in finding his way back to his father. He realized they still had their issues with each other, but he also knew his father did want him or he would never have kept these reminders of him around. Murdoch never gave up on him. He arranged the horses by some shiny metal stars.

"Well, Lady, the old man is gonna be shocked when he sees these horses have come home too! I wonder how long it will take Scott and Teresa to notice the added decorations? I guess we better get to bed. It will be time to get up before we know it." Johnny smiled at his furry friend as her head cocked from one side to the other as she took in everything he said. He reached down and tugged gently on her ear. “Come on amiga."

Johnny and Lady bounded up the stairs, their steps as light as their hearts. Johnny marveled to himself that Christmas could fill you with such love, hope and joy. Instead of weighing your heart down these feelings it set it free like a bird upon the wind. Which was exactly what he felt like, a bird soaring, gliding, drifting and floating, his family providing the wind to lift him up, yet knowing when his wings became tired he had a nest at Lancer. Right now his tired wings wanted nothing more than to collapse back in his warm bed until morning.

Quietly entering his room, Johnny straighten his covers and crawled in his bed. He sighed with pleasure as the warm body of the collie settled on top of his feet, keeping the chill off of them. The dark haired Lancer snuggled under the covers and let sleep claim him for Christmas dreams.

 

5:00 am Christmas Morning

Scott Lancer strode across the hall with a ram rod straight march. He had risen early and taken care of his morning ablutions and was now on the way to wake his younger brother. Scott planned to get Johnny to help him start breakfast as a surprise for Teresa. Maria had been given the day off. She and Teresa had done most of the cooking for today's meal, yesterday. In fact the turkey was still in the oven, put in there last night to slow roast. The blond Lancer didn't want the young girl to feel as though she spent most of this holy day in the kitchen, which is why he intended to prepare the morning meal.

Swinging the door to his brother's room open, Scott couldn't help but smile at the sight that greeted him. Johnny was curled up in the middle of the bed. Lady SF was laying across his feet and all the covers were pulled over her. He snickered as he reached out to pet the collie. "I thought you were a dog. Right now you look more like a common blanket hog." The silky head shook as the canine snorted and then gave a disgruntled low growl.

Scott stopped his hand short of shaking his brother's shoulder, instead he lifted his gun and holster from the bedpost and tossed it to the chair. Then he turned smartly on his heel and walked swiftly to the washstand where he dipped his hand into the pitcher of cold water. He hurried to the bedside, jerked the back of Johnny's long john shirt up and slapped his cold wet hand to his back.

Johnny jerked as if struck by lightening. The cold hand was such a shock to his system he couldn't make his voice work. He shot up in the bed, his mouth opening and shutting like a fish's out of water, unable to make a sound, goosebumps began appearing on all his exposed flesh. When his rudely awaken eyes were able to focus he spied his brother's evil visage snickering at the side of his bed. He glared at the blond Lancer and snarled, "What did you do that for?" Then turning to his loyal companion he snipped, "Some watch dog you make. You laid right there and watched him do that!'  Lady appeared to be smirking as she snorted and then pressed her chilly wet nose to Johnny's throat, adding insult to injury.

Scott plopped down on the bed next to Johnny. "Merry Christmas little brother. Would you like to help me with a Christmas surprise for Teresa?"

A still somewhat perturbed Johnny snipped, “Not if it's the same one you just gave me. You know that little spitfire could make us pay in a big way."

"No, it's not the same one I just gave you. I thought since Teresa will be taking over the final preparations for dinner today, by herself, that we would cook breakfast this morning. I didn't want Teresa to feel as though her whole day was spent in the kitchen."

Within the span of a few seconds, Johnny answered his sibling, with a twinkle in his eye. "Sure Boston, I'll help. You know this just may leave Teresa enough time to bake me a chocolate cake for dessert."

Scott cuffed his brother on the head as he reminded him, “We’re doing this so she spends less time in the kitchen, not to give her more time to cook cake for you. Hurry up, get dressed and come help. Oh, make your own bed and pick up your clothes, let's give her a day off from that too."

Rolling his eyes Johnny commented to Lady, as his brother marched from the room, " Bossy, ain't he? I happen to know there's cherry pie in the pantry already."

"Get off the bed Lady so I can make it," instructed Johnny as he lit a lamp.

The dark haired Lancer grabbed his covers, shook them out with a quick snap over the mattress and watched as they billowed out and floated down to lay somewhat catty cornered on the bed. He pulled the blankets in place so they hung somewhat evenly and then tossed his pillows to the head of the bed. Then he turned his attention to the clothes on the floor. He began kicking the assorted articles of clothing into a heap. He kept kicking them towards the open closet, finally he shoved them into the bottom of the closet with his foot. Lady SF brushed against his leg as she moved by him to drop a lone sock she had found onto the pile.

"Thanks, girl! You're a big help, now if I could just teach you to bake chocolate cake and clean my guns."

Laughing to himself over the joke he made, the youngest Lancer selected a pair of brown pants to wear. He decided to wear the shirt Maura Talbot presented him with at the Talbot/Lancer Christmas celebration the night before. The shirt was the same golden color as Barranca and was made of a soft warm flannel like material. She had embroidered the Lancer brand over the left pocket. He laid the clothes on the bed while he washed up, shaved and brushed his hair.

Johnny retrieved a clean pair of socks and his boots before making his way to the bed. He fingered the new shirt, rubbing its soft texture before putting it on. He picked up the pants and stepped into them. He tucked his shirt in and then had to get his belt from the chair where his brother had thrown it with his gun belt. Returning to the bed, he sat down and removed the socks he had been up walking around in last night. As he was getting the clean socks on, Lady picked up the ones he had removed, walked to the closet and dropped them in the floor with the other dirty clothes. She then pushed the door closed with her nose. Johnny watched all this in total amazement as he pulled on his boots.

"Who needs a wife when I have you? I have Teresa and Maria to cook for me and I can hire a wife for the night at the saloon any time I want to. No full time henpecking for this man, no sir!"

It was a happy go lucky Johnny that exited his room, with his canine shadow on his heels. He was softly humming Ave Maria as he paced down the hall and then bounced down the steps into the kitchen, where he startled his brother into dropping part of the eggs.

"Just great, look what you made me do," grumbled Scott as he stood amongst the shiny yellow circles the eggs made on the floor.

"I didn't make you do anything," snickered Johnny, "I'm not even wearing my gun."

Scott grimaced at his brother's attempt at humor. "Since you made me drop them, you go to the henhouse and get some more."

"Once again I say, I didn't make you do anything. If you want more eggs you go get them. I ain't starting my Christmas off by fighting with that old battle ax laying hen Mirabel."

"I need to clean up this mess on the floor, besides it's easier for you to get the eggs since you're shorter than me, you don't have to duck and stoop to maneuver around the hen house."

Johnny glared at his brother as he playfully snarled, "The only reason you're taller is because you’re full of it. All that natural fertilizer made you grow bigger."

"Ha Ha, little brother. Just please go get the eggs."

Scott grabbed the egg basket and handed it to Johnny and escorted him to the door with a shove to the back. When he turned back around he found Lady SF licking up the last of the raw eggs from the floor.

"Thanks for the help, Lady, that saves me some time. Personally I prefer my eggs cooked, but then I'm not a collie."

Scott gave the dog an affection pat as walked by. He was just about to put his hands into the bowl with the ingredients for making biscuits when he remembered he needed to wash his hands.

Scott plunged his hands into the bowl and mixed with his hands. Maria swore it made better biscuits if you put your hands into the mixture rather than using a pastry cutter. He was just flipping the dough out onto the floured butcher block, getting ready to roll it out and cut it into biscuits when Johnny slammed in the back door and stomped across the kitchen, sucking his right index finger.  A cantankerous Mirabel had pecked him.

The youngest Lancer sat the egg basket on the table. He glared at his brother, poked out his bottom lip in a familiar pout and then huffed out an exasperated breath, that sent a current of air upward, dislodging a feather from his hair. Both brothers watched as the small white feather floated towards the floor before being snapped from the air by Lady's jaws.

" Thanks, Johnny. Why don't you pour yourself a cup of coffee while I finish rolling and cutting these biscuits, then we'll get them on a pan and into the oven?"

By the time Johnny had consumed a cup of coffee, Scott had the biscuits ready to go on the pan. "Wash your hands Johnny, they have been under the chickens."  After washing his hands, Johnny grabbed the flat metal sheet and started to help his brother arrange the dough on it. He used a small towel to open the oven door for Scott to slide the pan into the heated box.

"We're moving along. Coffee is on and the biscuits are in the oven. Johnny, get a bowl and break about a dozen eggs into it and get them ready to scramble. I'll get the bacon started."

Each brother set about their task.  Scott had the iron frying pan heated and began laying strips of bacon in it.  The blond Lancer couldn't help but wonder what his brother was doing.  Every time he heard an egg crack, Johnny would stomp his foot and mutter.  Finally Scott decided he might inquire as to what exactly the younger Lancer was doing.

"Johnny, what's going on over there?  Are those eggs about ready to scramble?"

“I have to pick out these bits of shells unless you want crunchy eggs."

"I prefer my eggs soft and fluffy, if you don't mind!"

Both brothers whirled around at the sound of their father's voice. Murdoch grinned as he ran a finger lightly beside his nose, while taking in the unusual scene of his sons preparing the morning meal.

"Merry Christmas, sir. We thought we would surprise Teresa by taking some of the kitchen duties today. Sit down and I'll get you a cup of coffee to drink while we finish up."

Scott poured his father some coffee and set it in front of him at the table.

"Hey, Boston grab another skillet and get it ready for the eggs. I'm almost done."

Reaching up and taking another pan from the pot rack, Scott placed it on the stove and then dropped in some lard so the eggs wouldn't stick. By the time Johnny had beat the eggs and moved over to the stove the skillet was nice and hot. He poured the eggs into the pan just as Teresa made her appearance in the kitchen.

" It's a Christmas miracle, Scott and Johnny are cooking and my kitchen is still standing," exclaimed a smiling Teresa.

"Good morning, young lady of the house. You may have a seat at the table too. Johnny and I will be serving up biscuits, honey, bacon, eggs and coffee for your dining pleasure in just a moment. We wanted to treat you to a morning off from cooking."

“Thanks guys, this is a wonderful way to wake up. Ummm......Johnny you might want to scramble the eggs around in the pan or you'll end up with one big yellow egg pancake."

"OOPS!" Johnny whirled back around and beat the eggs some more while Scott began lifting the strips of bacon from the pan and placing them on a platter. Scott set the bacon on the table and then retrieved a platter for Johnny to turn the eggs out on too.

After dumping the eggs on the plate, Johnny carried it to the table while Scott fetched the pitcher of milk. The brothers sat down and at the same time jumped back up with Johnny exclaiming, "We need plates and silverware," as Scott hollered, "I forgot the biscuits, I hope they aren't burnt!"

Murdoch and Teresa laughed as the two Lancers collided on their way to accomplish their tasks.

Finally all the items needed were placed on the table and Teresa giggled as Johnny commented, "You and Maria make this look easy, but it's a lot of work."

“I can't tell you guys how much this means to me. I think it was so sweet of you to get up early and fix breakfast. It was the perfect start to the day. I will be the envy of all the girls in Morro Coyo, Green River and Spanish Wells, when they find out my brothers cooked Christmas breakfast for me." Both brothers blushed at the heart felt statement.

Everyone helped themselves to plates full of food, while they were eating Murdoch suggested they all clean the kitchen together to make the chore easier. This would become a family tradition from this year forward.

Eager anticipation shorten the normal length of time breakfast would have lasted. As soon as they all indicated they had eaten enough, Teresa got up and began storing the leftovers, Murdoch readied a sink of water, Scott cleared the table and Johnny scraped the plates before dropping them into the sink of water. Murdoch then washed the dishes, Scott rinsed, Johnny dried them and Teresa put them away.

Johnny and Scott almost knocked each other over in the bid to be the first out of the kitchen. Trying to keep the amusement from his stern reproach, Murdoch growled, "Ladies first!"

Teresa smirked brightly and she sailed past the brothers with sheepish looks on their faces. Johnny was right behind her, almost stepping on her heels. Scott tried to appear patient as he followed them and the lancer Patriarch brought up the rear.

Murdoch hoped no one would notice the decorations he had added to the tree until he had time to move into the room and see their reactions. He didn't know Johnny had already seen them and added his own touches.

Scott was the first to notice the additions. "How did that doll get on top of the tree?"

Teresa gasped, her eyes welled with happy tears, when she looked up. “Angel! That's my doll angel. What a wonderful use for her. She makes a beautiful tree topper." The brown haired girl then noticed the tin soldiers as her gaze traveled back down the tree. "Look at the cute little men in uniforms."

Scott moved closer to the evergreen. His eyes widen in wonder. "Those are mine! I got them for Christmas when I was five. I use to play with them for hours on end." The long slender fingers of the blond Lancer gently removed a steadfast tin soldier. Scott inspected the past favorite toy before placing it back among the needles of the evergreen. His hand brushed against a cow as he did and the wooden creature began to fall through the branches.

With eyes twinkling, Johnny reached out and stopped the drop of the miniature bovine through the soft lush fragrant needles. He inhaled the scent of wood, forest and Christmas spices that clung to the little cow.

Murdoch studied the face of his youngest. His heart sank. / He doesn't remember. I wanted there to be something from a Christmas past on the tree for each of them. I wanted this tree to be about family./ Just as Murdoch started to speak up and explain the small wooden creatures, he saw a look of contentment wash over the tan features of his younger son. He followed the track of Johnny's eyes as they lit up even more. The Lancer Patriarch gasped in shocked delight when he saw the happy glittering blue orbs were trained on a tiny carved horse.

The normally rock steady hand of the youngest Lancer trembled slightly as it reached out and plucked the handmade equine from the feathery limbs of the tree and handed it to his father. Johnny located its mate and held that one himself. "These are mine. They were part of an ark set I got for Christmas. I use to carry these with me wherever I went. When I got to old to play with them, I wrapped them in a scarf of Mama's."

Swallowing past the lump in his throat, Johnny explained, "I don't actually remember getting them for Christmas. What I do remember is for some reason they always made me feel safe, like I had a place that I came from. No matter where Mama and I were when Christmas came each year we had each other. I always had these horses, they became my Christmas tradition. Now I would like to give them to you because I trust you to keep us safe. Merry Christmas Pa, we're home for the holidays."

Murdoch Lancer spread his arms wide and enveloped the three young people in a soul sharing hug. "This might be our first year for all of us to be together in body but I want you to know every year I had Christmas with you in my heart. Every year I prayed that no matter where you were, on an opposite coast where blue waters roll or by some snow covered mountains or a sandy valley, that you knew the hope, joy and peace of the season of love all through the year. These toys are from Christmas' past, they are hanging on the tree to signify our future Christmas' together whether in body or in our hearts"

"Well then I guess these packages under the tree are our Christmas present," quipped Johnny. Scott, Teresa and Murdoch groaned at the pun.

Murdoch proclaimed, "Let it be Christmas!"  The presents were handed out and each person took a turn opening one so that the gift giver got the chance to enjoy the receiver's reaction. By far the greatest gift that day was the presence of each other.

 

~end~
Gala Frohlich Weihnachten und Prost Neujahr, Y'all.

Southernfrau

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