Word Count 5,465
Johnny rubbed his hands together then ran them up and down his arms as he crept silently down the hallway from his room. The stairs were cold on his bare feet and halfway down them he wondered if he should go back up and at least put on a pair of socks. Deciding not to after a moment’s hesitation, he continued down the dark stairs and into the kitchen.
He pulled a pitcher of milk from the icebox and poured himself a glass. Being able to do this small thing in his life now was such a treat he sometimes couldn’t believe that life had changed so quickly…so drastically from everything he had ever known. Funny, he thought, how being able to get a simple glass of cold milk could make him feel as if he were walking in a dream and that any minute he might wake up and find it was just that….a dream.
He padded silently across the tile floor and toward the Great Room with glass in hand. When he got to the doorway he stopped, staring at the tree in the corner of the room beside the fireplace. It seemed such and odd thing seeing it there instead of outside where it belonged. Johnny lifted his glass, drank some of his milk, his eyes never leaving the tree or the bright and shining trimmings that sparkled from the moonlight and the orange glowing embers left over from the roaring fire that evening. It was pretty, he thought, all decked out in silver and gold, strings of popcorn, ribbon and bows. There was even a star that adorned it like a crown, handmade he was told by a teary eyed Teresa. Her father had made it from an old piece of tin the year before he died, crafted with infinite patience Johnny could tell. There was an intricate detailed pattern tooled onto the surface and it gleamed after being polished, reminding him of the North Star.
He could hear them, remembering the warm feeling he got inside when Teresa got them all decorating it. At first it had been strange and then later, as time passed and laughter filled the room, he got into the spirit of the fun they were all having. It was the first time he could remember doing anything so childish in his life, decorating a tree for Christmas.
Johnny walked over to the fireplace and put another log on the grate. He stoked the embers with an iron poker, sighed contentedly when the flames sparked and grew, kissing the wood, flickering, popping, orange-yellow in the pit. It took the chill off, wrapped him in warmth as he remembered riding into the yard after working that day.
He pulled Barranca tight, peering at the open door to the house, watching the tip end of a tree, as someone he couldn’t see, dragged it inside. He heard a bellow, a roar of success and then cries of delight…Teresa, Scott and Murdoch, he thought with a gentle smile. Wondering what was going on but needing to get Barranca bedded down for the night, Johnny pulled his coat in tighter and squeezed his knees. The horse moved, the door to the house closed, and then all was quiet as he dismounted by the barn and led Barranca inside.
There hadn’t been any traditional Yuletide Christmases in his past other than his first year, nothing he could remember because he had been but a babe in his mother’s arms at the time. He knew little of it, this thing called Christmas. What he knew of celebrating the birth of Christ was a colorful Mexican procession, a parade of sorts, a reenactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for a place to stay in Bethlehem, Las Posadas. His countrymen, family and friends would play the parts, the pilgrims and the innkeepers, half searching for a place to spend the night, the other half turning them down. All of them, moving onward until the pilgrims found a house that would accept them. And inside the last home, there would be a religious alter, a nativity where all the players and followers could rejoice and say prayer. Then there would be food and drinks served, games for the young and old alike, with colorfully decorated piñatas to break open, filled with all sorts of candied treats for the children.
Peaked with curiosity, Johnny got his work done quickly, put away Barranca’s tack, rubbed him down, fed him some oats, watered him, all the while wondering if the tree would turn out to be one of those decorated Christmas trees he’d seen once in a weekly periodical a long time ago.
There were times when this new family of his had him bewildered and shaking his head. Thanksgiving had been one of those times. The festivities of that day still had him dazed from food shock. Never in his life had he seen so much to eat in one place and all of it, a delicious treat.
He gave Barranca one last pat on the neck, closed the gate to his stall with raised eyebrows, wondering what in the world he would find going on when he went inside the house. Johnny thought perhaps it must have something to do with the American Christmas traditions, but he was not sure what those traditions were exactly.
Teresa and Maria had been decorating the house for the past week with all manner of foreign things he wasn’t accustomed to seeing inside a home. Large red velvet bows, prickly green garland, golden tinkling bells and mysterious of all, something called mistletoe hanging from the center of the front foyer. When he looked up at it hanging from the center of the front foyer and asked what it was for, Teresa and Maria were both quick to show him by placing kisses on his cheek and explaining what it meant. After that, it soon became a game of sorts between all of them to see who might get the most kisses by Christmas day.
As he approached the front door, he could hear it again, squealing cries of delight and deep boisterous rumblings, manly laughter. He stopped, his hand on the door handle, listening, but unable to make out what was being said because there seemed to be such a ruckus inside…a happy ruckus it sounded. Hesitantly he opened the door, pushed it wide and walked slowly inside. There is was, that big ‘ol tree he had seen being dragged inside, surrounded by his family as they pushed and pulled, lifted and set it inside a big metal bucket.
The door closed slowly and he backed up with it, standing there, watching them tilt this way and that, the fat looking bluish green fir. It was huge, almost too big for the room and that was saying a lot since the room itself was rather large and spacious. It now seemed small with the furniture in a semi circle, nothing really in its usual place, but more confined and more intimate because of the closeness of the new setting.
The three figures, his new family, stepped back, hands on hips and surveyed the job they had been doing. A smile crept up on Johnny’s face. “What’s goin’ on?” he asked while leaning up against the door.
Scott whipped his head around and Johnny couldn’t help but grin at the wide smile on his brother’s face. He thought in that second and not for the first time, he liked having a brother, liked the happiness he saw in the smile whenever he said hello or walked into a room. So much different from the frowns and cold hard stares he’d gotten his whole life.
Scott held his arms out toward the corner of the room, palms up, grinning like he’d done something spectacular. “We have our tree!”
Teresa turned around grinning from ear to ear, her blue eyes lit with pleasure, “Come see, Johnny. It’s the most beautiful tree ever!” she declared happily.
Even Murdoch was smiling. This alone was enough to unnerve Johnny. It wasn’t that his father never smiled, but he didn’t usually smile like that, not big and bright so that his eyes crinkled at the corners making him look…younger…happy for a change.
The smile on Murdoch’s face waned, but only for a second. It came to him that his son might not know what was going on. “Come on over Johnny…take a look,” he said coaxing his son with another one of those big bright, unexpected smiles, accompanied by a ‘come here’ hand gesture.
Johnny crossed the foyer and walked past the long dining table. He stood between Scott and Teresa, taking in the tree from top to bottom while he unbuttoned his jacket and slipped his hands casually to the sides of his waist.
Teresa knelt down, draping a large red velvet scarf around the base, hiding the bucket, shifting, moving and fussing with the soft fabric until she had it just right. “There!” she exclaimed and stood up. She clasped her hands together, her face animated and lively as she stared at her work and then back at the three men. “What do you think?” she asked them all.
“It’s beautiful sweetheart. Just like you said,” Murdoch told her cheerfully.
“Very nice…colorful,” Scott commented with pride, as he looked the tree up and down with satisfaction. “Perfect.”
Teresa looked at Johnny expecting him to comment, when he didn’t she nudged his arm and said, “Johnny?”
Johnny looked from the red velvet scarf to the top of the tree towering over all of them, “It’s…a tree,” he said a little mystified by its presence in the great room. “A very tall tree.” It looked nothing like the drawing he’d seen of a Christmas tree, this one had nothing on it and yet, his family seemed pleased as punch just to have it there.
“Not just any tree, Johnny,” Murdoch said with some pride. “It’s our Christmas tree.” Murdoch stepped around Scott and stood behind Johnny. He put his hands on his young son’s shoulders and said, “Our first Christmas tree and our first Christmas together as a family.”
“So what do we do with it now?” Johnny asked. It seemed such a waste to have cut down such a fine looking tree as this one if this was all there was to having it in the home.
“You’ve got to be kidding little brother?” Scott said twisting his head to look at Johnny as if he had grown two heads.
“We decorate it,” Murdoch said squeezing Johnny’s shoulders and saving him from having to answer. “Your little brother probably hasn’t ever celebrated a traditional Christmas as we know it growing up in Mexico.”
“Oh, Johnny! You’re in for such a treat.” She reached in front of him and grabbed Scott’s hand, “Come help me, Scott,” she said. “There’s lots of boxes in the attic and I need extra arms to carry them.
Scott held her hand, grinning as he was pulled past his father and brother. “Looks like I’ve been recruited to help,” he said. Teresa pulled a little harder on his hand and he hurried up his pace, “We’ll be right…”. His voice trailed off as he rounded the corner and they climbed the stairs laughing like two children, like family, a sound Murdoch thought he might never get to hear on this holiday. Silently, he thanked the Lord again that his sons had come home and that he could truly say they were now a family.
Murdoch patted Johnny on the shoulders, turned and walked to the other side of the sidebar and started to pour a small drink, “Take your jacket off Johnny. Might as well get comfortable. I think we’ll be busy for quite some time.” He held up a glass, “You want one?”
Johnny shook his head and shrugged out of his jacket, he walked to the foyer and hung it on one of the hooks by the front door. “No thanks.” When his father glanced down at the gun belted around his hips, Johnny frowned but turned around and took it off as well. “So…what about supper? Are we gettin’ any tonight?”
Murdoch drank his shot of liquor and set the glass down gently, smiling. “Maria is making up some sandwiches. She should have a platter out in just a bit. I thought we’d indulge Teresa tonight…decorate the tree together and eat while we have a little fun.”
“Fun?” Johnny asked walking into the room and standing before the tree. “Don’t think I’ve ever had this kind of fun before. Think I’ll like it?”
Murdoch sighed reflectively and walked around the end of the sofa, squeezing his way between it and one of the chairs to sit down. “I hope so.”
“I’ve never seen a Christmas tree all decorated and spiffed up, ‘cept maybe in some paper journal I looked at once,” Johnny told his father quietly. “There was a fella by the name of St. Nicholas in it too.” He turned to look at his father quizzically, “I remember thinkin’ he was kind of scary lookin’.”
Murdoch got up and walked over to his library of books lined along the wall on the far side of the dining table. He pulled out what looked like a thin paper booklet from between two other hardbound books, holding it lightly in his hands. “Harper’s Weekly,” he stated, “Christmas Supplemental.”
Murdoch flipped through the pages, found what he was looking for and walked over to Johnny. He stood next to his son and showed him the pictures inside. “Like this?” Murdoch asked, pointing at one of the drawings on a page.
Johnny tilted his head to get a better look and then took it from his father’s hand. “Yeah. They ain’t the same pictures I saw, but they look similar.”
“That’s because of the artist,” Murdoch said. “His name is Thomas Nast. He’s a political cartoonist. Some of his pictures are a little scary looking I suppose. Especially this one,” he said pointing to a picture of a child, barely more than a baby, sleeping while a white bearded man touched his tummy and smiled at him through the slats of his crib.
There were other pictures, and a story to go with them Murdoch pointed out. “More a poem about Christmas,” Murdoch said. “I was thinking we might have Scott read it out loud a little later on.”
Johnny handed his father the colorful Christmas publication and then sat on the end of the sofa by the tree, swinging his leg and half wondering what Scott was finding with Teresa’s help upstairs in the attic.
“Scott’s good at that sort of thing. I wouldn’t mind hearin’ him read it,” Johnny commented thoughtfully. He enjoyed those times when all was quiet, his belly full, and the family lounged around the great room, reading or playing games…maybe even just talking. He liked to hear them talk…especially when his father and brother got into some political debate that pitted old thinking against new.
Murdoch closed the periodical and laid it on the table next to his chair by the fireplace. “Good,” he said. He had hoped Johnny would enjoy Christmas. He wanted very much for both his sons to feel at home, to be happy and have fun, to feel as if they were truly a family.
Maria came into the room just then, her hands holding a large tray filled with sandwiches and cookies. She stared at the tree wide eyed as she passed by it, setting the tray on the sideboard behind the sofa. “Para usted y su familia, señor,” she said to Murdoch, telling him there was food for him and his family.
“Gracias, Maria,” Murdoch said thanking her.
She stopped next to Johnny on her way back to the kitchen and smiled at him, touched his face with the palm of her hand, “Tenga un buen rato, muchacho.”
He smiled back at her, assuring her that he would indeed have a good time. He was looking forward to the evening. Johnny blushed when Maria leaned over and kissed his cheek as if he were a child. He still wasn’t used to that kind of demonstrative affection coming from people he still viewed as near strangers, but Maria was different from the rest of them. She reminded Johnny so much of his mother, how he thought of her in his mind and wished she had been, he allowed the display of fondness for that sake alone.
The housekeeper left them then and the sound of laughter and clomping feet could be heard coming around the corner of the stairwell. Scott and Teresa appeared their arms laden with gaily decorated boxes.
“I think we just about cleaned out the attic,” voiced Scott from behind a tall stack he carried.
Johnny stood up and took several boxes from him, while Murdoch made his way to Teresa and helped her unload her burden.
The boxed decorations were set by the tree. Johnny thought there must be plenty of decorations to go around since there were eight boxes of various sizes and all of them, filled to capacity when Teresa started to open them up one by one.
“Now I know this looks like a lot, but I think they’ll all fit if we space them out just right.” She pushed an open box toward Scott, another toward Johnny and a third toward Murdoch. Scott and Murdoch started right in, pulling out tissue paper covered ornaments, unwrapping them gently as if they might break
Johnny, sitting on his knees in front of his box, watched his family and waited to see what they would do with them. It felt strange being so close, so intimate with all of them and sharing this special time of their lives in such a personal way. Always before in Mexico, he been but an observer, his mother’s reputation too stained to allow her or her half-breed son to participate in such a holy ceremony as Las Posadas. He had envied the other children and the games they played, the treats they received when they broke the piñatas and the families that loved their children so.
For just a moment, a split second of time, he closed his eyes and felt the pull of her hand on his arm, heard her angry outburst against the people, the saints and the holy mother. She would be crazy mad at all of them, more hurt by the rejection of her son than he would ever know. His mama would always make it up to him, not in the same way as their people, but different, a quiet supper, always his favorite foods, never enough but more than most times. And on that one special night of the year, she allowed no man to come see her. She would tell him, “”Esta noche mi hijo, usted es el único hombre que necesito.”
He wished on those nights that her words could stand true for every day of his life. He wanted to be her only man when he was a child. He had loved her then as only a boy could love his mother, with unwavering heart and soul. He thought so even more when supper was over and from behind her back, a secret smile upon her face, she would pull out a small gift. Wrapped in cloth and tied with a satin bow, she gave him bright colored candies…handfuls of them, just like the ones that fell from the broken piñatas she knew he loved.
Scott broke his reverie by nudging him in the arm, “You’re not supposed to be thinking so hard little brother. Grab an ornament and have some fun.”
Johnny reached into the box given to him and grabbed the first one his hand touched. He pulled the paper off and sucked in his breath. It was a small wooden horse, oak colored and looking so very much like Barranca that Johnny had to smile. It looked old; the patina of the wood glowed golden as if rubbed a thousand times by hand until it was smooth and glossy.
He got up and stepped over his box, putting himself between Murdoch and Scott as he hung it on the tree. When he was done hanging it, Scott nudged his shoulder and said, “Looks a little like Barranca, doesn’t it?”
Johnny nodded his head and said, “Yeah, I was kinda thinkin’ that myself.” He looked over at the toy soldier Scott was hanging on the tree. He laughed softly and touched the tiny drum that hung from its shoulders and said, “He looks kinda like you.”
Scott stared at the hanging Christmas soldier and said, “He does at that. Except I never carried a drum set in the war.”
Both men bent over and picked up another ornament to hang on the tree, “Guess you couldn’t carry no drum ridin’ around on a horse all day, shoutin’ out orders and lookin’ pretty for the camera.”
Scott laughed, “Somebody had to shout out the orders and I already told you, I photograph well.”
“I think we all photograph well,” Teresa added to the conversation.
“I think so too,” Murdoch said as he reached for another ornament and hung it around the backside of the tree.
“We should have another picture made,” Scott said as he reached into his box and unwrapped a twisted crystal icicle. It sparkled in the light as he held it up and let it spin from his fingers.
Johnny shook his head, “I’m not sitting for another one of those pictures. Took too long last time.”
“You weren’t sitting brother…you were standing,” Scott reminded Johnny, as he watched him hang a glittering star on the tree.
“Murdoch and I were sitting,” Teresa pointed out. “You and Scott were standing.”
Johnny shrugged his shoulders and reached down for another ornament. “Sittin’, standin’…it’s all the same. Still took way too long.”
“I’d like to have a picture where we’re all smiling,” Murdoch said. “Even if it does take too long.”
Teresa shook her head and smiled as she picked up an ornament and unwrapped it, “I think we were all a little grumpy by the time that man figured out what went wrong and finally took a picture of us.”
Scott laughed and said, “You have to admit…it was funny when the photographer came out from underneath that black cloth with his face covered in black soot.”
On his knees in front of his box, Johnny said laughing, “That’s when someone should have taken the picture of us.”
“You think he’ll ever come out here again?” Teresa asked.
“I don’t see why not,” Scott remarked. “It wasn’t our fault he put too much powder in the tray.”
Johnny laughed, “That was some explosion. Could be that’s the reason he doesn’t have much hair up front.”
Teresa stood up and walked over to the sideboard. She placed half sandwiches on small plates for each of them, grinning as she made her way past the multitude of boxes and scattered tissue paper lying on the floor, “I felt sorry for the poor man,” she said handing each of the men a plate.
“You laughed just as hard as the rest of us,” Scott commented, as he took a plate from her.
“I know…and I shouldn’t have,” Teresa said. “It was a rotten thing to do.” She sat on the floor next to Murdoch in his blue chair and started to eat her sandwich.
“Don’t be so harsh on yourself darling. Mr. Baxter told me later on when we were outside that he found it amusing as well. Apparently it’s happened to him a few times.” Murdoch smiled and ran his hand down the back of Teresa’s hair remembering the look on the photographer’s face. Chuckling he said, “Your poor Mr. Baxter had a mirror in the back of his wagon and got a good look at himself before he cleaned up and changed his clothes.”
The rest of the evening had gone that way for them, eating, laughing, talking, and adorning the tree until they had it completely decorated from top to bottom. The only thing left by the time the boxes were emptied was the final piece, the star made by Teresa’s father, which she unwrapped lovingly and handed to Murdoch.
Stretching as far as he could, Murdoch placed the star carefully on the crown of the tree then stepped back with an air of total satisfaction when he was done. He draped an arm around Teresa’s shoulders and hugged her to him, missing Paul almost as much as his daughter did. He leaned down to her ear and said very quietly, “I remember when your father made that star for you. He said to me that day, ‘I love that little girl of mine more than all the stars in the sky’.”
Teresa turned toward Murdoch and lifted her face to his, her eyes welling with unshed tears, “He did love me…didn’t he,” she stated emphatically, knowing the man who sheltered her beneath his arm understood her loss completely.
Murdoch kissed the top of her head and said, “Yes he did, honey…with all his heart.”
Johnny pressed his forehead against the big picture window behind Murdoch’s desk, rubbing his hands up and down his arms to help warm his body. The fire behind him was blazing in the fireplace but it had yet to take the chill completely off the room. The moon outside was barely more than a sliver of shining silver in the evening sky, hardly enough light to see much of anything, but just enough to see that a slight smattering of rain was falling and would soon turn to snow if the weather kept up the cold spell. He wondered if they would wake up to a white Christmas, just like the one in the poem that Scott had read to them that evening.
He had enjoyed listening to Scott read about the visit from St. Nicholas, just as he thought he would. His brother’s voice and animated telling of the visit by St. Nicholas dispelled his earlier, scarier images of the old man in red and left him wondering if any part of the story could really be true.
As an adult, he thought not. But a part of him that had longed for such childish traditions in his past hoped that there was a little part of the fable that might hold some truth to it. Tomorrow was Christmas after all and he liked the idea of catching a jolly fat little man flying across the skies on a sleigh driven by eight tiny reindeer.
Just as he was peering up into the night sky, hoping he might catch a glimpse, Johnny was startled when a hand touched his shoulder. He jumped and spun around, half expecting to see an old man dressed in red asking him why he was up and out of bed on Christmas Eve.
“Whoa, little brother! It’s just me,” Scott exclaimed as he held up his hands.
“Don’t do that! You scared the life out of me!”
Scott laughed, “I asked what you were doing when I came into the room.”
Johnny blew out a shaky breath, “Well…I didn’t hear you.”
“I can see that,” Scott said. “What are you doing up?”
Johnny shrugged and looked back out the window. “Couldn’t sleep. Thought I’d get a drink and check the fire while I was at it.”
“Looked to me like you were looking up into the sky when I got here. You hoping to see old St. Nick?”
Johnny looked over his shoulder at his grinning brother. “Just checkin’ out the weather.”
Scott stepped up to the glass, cupped his hands and looked outside. “Looks like we’re in for some snow.”
“I was thinkin’ the same thing.”
Scott pulled away from the window and then leaned against it with his shoulder. “When I was a kid…I would sit up all night on the stairs hoping I would see him.”
Johnny pretended ignorance, “See who?”
Scott smiled and crossed his arms, “Santa Claus…St. Nicholas.”
Tight lipped, Johnny squinted and looked down at his bare feet. “You ever see him?” he asked quietly.
Scott shook his head, “No. Not once.” He laughed, “I always fell asleep and when I woke up…I was always in my bed.”
Scott snorted inelegantly, so unlike his usual proper response, “I hardly think so.”
“Then who?” Johnny asked him.
Scott pushed away from the window and walked toward the French doors. “Probably one of the servants. Grandfather wasn’t much into the Christmas spirit when I was a child. I guess you’d say he was a bit of a Scrooge.”
Bewildered, Johnny asked, “Scrooge?”
Scott opened the left side of the doors and stepped just outside. He motioned for Johnny to join him. Johnny padded across the floor and stepped outside with his brother. The ground was cold and Johnny noticed the slight rain was turning to snow.
Scott was stepping back and forth from one foot to the other. He pointed toward the north and said to Johnny, “I figure if we see him, he’ll come from that direction.”
Johnny stepped past his brother, his feet freezing as he looked up into the sky. “Well he ain’t there right now and I’m cold. Let’s get back inside.”
They stepped back inside the house and Scott closed the door behind him. “Just thought you might want to see where he’d be coming from.”
“Might have wanted to if I had my boots on,” Johnny told him as he hurried inside and shook the crystal flakes off his shoulders.
Both men made their way past the maze of rearranged furniture and stood in front of the fireplace to warm up. Rubbing his hands back and forth and then holding them out to the fire, Johnny said, “You didn’t say…but what’s a scrooge?”
Scott sat down in front of the fire, cross-legged on the floor, motioning for his brother to do the same, “A scrooge is someone who is a penny-pinching miser who cares only for money and how he can obtain it through any means necessary.”
Sitting by his brother, Johnny said, “They way you talk about your Grandpa, I always thought you had it good.”
Scott shrugged and picked at the hem of his pants, wiggling his toes as he thought about his answer. “I did have it good. Better than most kids. But it wasn’t my Grandfather who made the holidays special, it was the servants.”
“They must have really loved you,” Johnny remarked thoughtfully.
Scott nodded his head, “They did. They were my family…the only family I knew at the time.”
“You glad to be here this year, with this family?” Johnny asked sincerely.
Scott smiled and then ducked his blond head a little, “I wouldn’t have it any other way. How about you?”
Johnny looked off into the fire, picked up the iron poker and gave the log a jab. “Yeah, I am. It’s different though. I never celebrated Christmas like this before with all the trimmings.” He told Scott then of the Christmases he could remember. He left out the parts that made him sad or seem as if he were envious and told him only of the good that he could remember. And when he was done with the telling, he found that he missed those times with his mother, the special foods she would make, the little treats she would save up to buy for him, the way she would hold him and tell him how much she loved her little man. He could feel her warmth, her love, for he believed in his heart that she had loved him in her own way.
They sat in silence for a time, each man thinking of loved ones and the precious few memories they had of them, wishing there were more of them, wishing life had been different and that they had been together all these many years gone by.
The grandfather clock struck one, breaking them out of their reverie. Scott tapped his brother on the arm with his hand and said, “We should go up.”
Johnny yawned and said, “Yeah…I’m gettin’ tired and we’re both too big to be carried upstairs.”
Scott laughed and got to his feet first, stretching a hand down to his brother to help him up. They stood before the tree taking one last look at it before climbing the stairs and saying goodnight to one another.
At the top of the landing, Scott turned toward his brother and said, “Goodnight, Johnny…Merry Christmas brother.”
“Night, Scott. Merry Christmas to you too, brother.”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
As Johnny climbed into bed, pulled the covers to his chin,
He lay on his side and thought of his family again.
He smiled at the laughter, the tall tales they had spun,
Smiled once again when he realized he’d had fun.
He sighed and he shifted, shoved a hand beneath his cheek,
And thought of the good times they’d had this past week.
He could still hear his father, smell the cherry from his smoke,
See the star on the tree, Scott’s soldier and horse of oak.
He loved his new family, his father and his brother,
Teresa and Maria who was so much like his mother.
Then he closed his eyes and tried his best to go to sleep,
Anxious for tomorrow and new memories he would keep.
This year was different in a way that made him ache,
For it felt like a dream, and any moment he might wake.
How lucky he was that his father called him home,
His past now behind him, no longer need he roam.
He fell into a slumber, with a smile upon his face,
And dreamt of his tomorrow and the Lord’s good grace.
His family would be there, all smiles and good cheer,
Wishing him Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Twas the Night Before Christmas By Clement Clarke Moore
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”
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