Word Count 2,918
A story set in my young Lancer time frame, where Scott is brought to the ranch at 5, and Johnny is there, from a baby, with Maria, his mother, before being taken away by her while still only a toddler.
It had been a pretty, crazy few months since Scott Lancer and his father had finally been united and the newly turned 6-year-old was now beginning to feel quite at home at the sprawling hacienda in California, where his father and mother had set up home, after their marriage.
Their time together had been brief but very happy. They were both delighted when Catherine announced to Murdoch that she was carrying their first child. However, the area where they lived was still largely wild and without law, and there were always bands of marauders intent on taking away what the settlers had worked hard to secure.
Murdoch decided it would be safer to send Catherine to San Francisco for the birth of their child. Her father, Harlan Garrett, agreed to meet his daughter en route and escort her to safety.
But Scott decided to arrive early, and with him came post-natal complications for Catherine, and she died from them. Instead of taking Scott to San Francisco and waiting for Murdoch to join them, Harlan took the baby to his home in Boston. It was five long years before the bereaved father would get him back.
Having spent his first five years living in a huge mansion in the most select area of Boston, the little boy had wanted for nothing, materially. And, if you were to ask his maternal grandfather, Harlan Garrett, he would have told you that Scott didn’t want for anything, emotionally, either.
But now that the boy knew what it was like to really experience a father’s love. It was even more apparent to him just how starved he had been, living in the rarefied, but stuffy atmosphere of a single man’s mausoleum.
And that is what the mansion was like. It was not a home. It was just a series of rooms filled with unique and extremely valuable works of art, most of which had been bought as an investment rather than for their appearance or comfort. Little Scott could only recall one chair in the whole house that was halfway to being comfortable and that was the rather battered rocking chair, which stood next to his bed and was used by his wet nurse when she fed him as a baby. It was also where Nanny would give him a cuddle when things got too much for the sensitive boy to deal with, and he needed a bit of babying.
The butler, who had worked for the Garrett family since Scott’s mother, Catherine, was a child, told him that the chair used to be in Catherine’s nursery and her mother would sit in it when nursing Catherine. Both women were now long dead, but it always made Scott feel closer to the mother and grandmother he never knew whenever he sat there.
The chair was the only thing Scott missed about the house in Boston. He certainly didn’t miss all the time he spent in the nursery, with just a nursemaid, or governess, to keep him company, or the times he was made to dress up in a miniature version of his grandfather’s suit and be paraded before their guests at a formal dinner. They never seemed to entertain just for fun, as Papa and Mama Maria did.
No, the dinners at Grandfather’s house were always in aid of some business deal Garrett was involved in. Scott didn’t even get to eat the food; he was just expected to tour around the table, shaking hands with everyone, before returning to the nursery and his solitary meal.
But now, he and Johnny would spend their days exploring the ranch, well, the yard and outbuildings, at least, and were free to go pretty much where they liked in the house. Mama Maria wasn’t a particularly attentive mother to either of the boys. Still, they had a great surrogate in Mamacita, the cook/housekeeper, who had worked for Murdoch since he’d arrived at the ranch.
He reckoned that when the house was originally built, she was built, too, and they’d been together ever since. Mamacita would laugh and flap her ever-present apron in his direction as if to shoo him out of the kitchen, but she did not deny it. The kindly woman had her own small house close to the main hacienda and shared it with her husband and children. But their youngest was almost fully grown, so she had plenty of time to lavish attention on both of Murdoch’s boys.
Once Scott arrived, it didn’t take long for Mamacita to recognise that here was a boy starved of affection, and she was determined to rectify that. At first, Scott was somewhat uncomfortable with the amount of attention Mamacita showered upon him but soon realised she genuinely cared for him. He began to look forward to their regular chats and cuddles. These usually took place just before bedtime, but if Scott felt a bit down, he knew he only had to go to the kitchen, and very soon, Mamacita would make things right again.
And she did the same for Johnny, even though he did have his own mother living at the ranch. However, Maria was not comfortable in the company of babies and children, even her own, and much preferred spending her time visiting neighbours, or on long rides around the ranch, with or without her husband.
The sad fact was that Maria was very young and easily bored. She loved being with people of her own age and dressing up in pretty clothes and expected Murdoch to always be holding parties or attending them. Murdoch, a rather dour Scotsman, who was considerably older than his stunningly attractive young wife, did his best to provide the entertainment and stimulation Maria craved. However, he was still in the early days of establishing the ranch, so there was a lot of work.
Socialising, while fun, had to take second place in ensuring the ranch would provide a secure income for their growing family.
Christmas was almost upon them,and Murdoch was getting swept up in all of the preparations and was determined to make this the best Christmas possible.
As they lay in their bed, wrapped up in each other’s arms, Maria talked about her plans for the festive season.
“I agree, my darling,” whispered Murdoch, feeling happy and contented after he and Maria had just made love. “Christmas should always be a magical time, especially as this will be the first one Scott and Johnny have celebrated together. I want all the boys’ Christmases, from now on, to be the best they possibly can be.”
Maria was thinking more about the new dresses she was having made and the entertainment she had booked for the Lancer Christmas party, not of the boys, but Murdoch didn’t know that. He did know that she was not always the best of mothers when it came to their son’s needs, but as usual, he tried to find excuses for her.
‘It is hard for a woman as young as she is to cope with her own child, never mind another woman’s child, too,’ he reasoned. And he was consoled that at least Scott had found a mother figure in Maria, his housekeeper. He quickly saw how his boy gravitated towards the kindly lady if ever he was unsure about anything.
Scott was also building a strong relationship with his father and this pleased Murdoch, no end. Johnny was already his Papa’s boy, and the two of them could often be seen riding around the estancia, with Johnny proudly perched up on his father’s horse.
And Murdoch was almost as excited about Christmas as his boys were, as he couldn’t wait to present Scott with his very own pony. Scott had already begun riding lessons in Boston, so Murdoch was confident that he was now ready for his own mount. There was a slight worry, though, and that was going to be Johnny’s reaction to his brother having his own horse.
The younger boy felt he was more than ready to ride by himself, too, but this was not a sentiment shared by his parents. Maria already had misgivings about Johnny being in the saddle at all, even if it was only when riding with his father, but she was most emphatic that he was not yet big enough for his own pony, and Murdoch agreed.
His blue eyes were the only bit of Johnny that gave away that he was not 100% Mexican. The rest of him was all Maria, including his slight build and short stature, so he was nowhere near ready to control a pony. But Murdoch knew that Johnny did not see it that way and was anticipating some fireworks come Christmas morning. However, being the stubborn but reasonable man he was, he would not let Johnny’s likely tantrum prevent him from giving the pony to Scott.
‘It would not be fair to Scott to deny him the pleasure of owning his own mount just because Johnny is not at the same stage as his brother,’ he thought. ‘Johnny will just have to learn, as do all little brothers, that their older siblings reach certain milestones sooner than they do.’
The days moved on and in the anticipation in the house was reaching fever pitch. Both Scott and Johnny were almost bouncing off the walls as it got ever closer to that magical night when Santa would arrive, loaded up with gifts for all the good boys and girls.
On Christmas Eve, the just turned two-year-old, Johnny, was caught scribbling in one of Scott’s picture books. The older boy was furious with his little brother, as Scott took great care of his toys and liked them to remain in pristine condition. But Johnny was not so careful with his things or anyone else’s, for that matter. When Scott began shouting at him, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Johnny make it pity.”
“No, you didn’t make it pretty,” replied Scott, emphasising the word pretty as Johnny mispronounced it. “You have made it messy. You are very naughty and Santa won’t come to you cos you are naughty,” and the little boy burst into tears.
As soon as he saw how upset his big brother was, Johnny, too, began to cry.
“Johnny sowwy. Johnny not naughty. Johnny want Santa to come,” and the tears soon escalated into screams. When that didn’t bring the desired response of Scott assuring him Santa would come, Johnny then threw himself on the floor and began banging his head on the ground. All this noise soon brought their father to the room.
“What on earth is going on in here?” demanded Murdoch, his huge frame towering over the boys.
Scott turned a very red face, with puffy eyes, upwards, to look at his father and said, “He scribbled in my book.” And he held the book up as evidence.
Johnny stopped banging his head and screaming long enough to reply, “Bad Squat*, say Johnny naughty. Say Santa not come. Johnny not naughty, Johnny nice.” Then resumed his screaming and head banging.
“Stop that, Johnny,” said Murdoch as he lifted up Scott and hugged him. “I’m sorry about the book, son. Johnny was wrong to scribble in it, and we have told him about this several times. But I don’t think it will stop Santa from coming. It was wrong of Johnny, but then you were wrong to tell him Santa wouldn’t come.”
Scott began to cry, again, and still, Johnny did not stop banging his head and screaming.
Mamacita arrived from the kitchen, and picked Johnny up off the floor and talked soothingly to him, in Spanish.
Maria was lying in her room, and although she heard all the commotion, she chose to stay away and let others deal with it. Murdoch continued to console Scott, and eventually, the tantrum was over.
However, Murdoch felt it was still necessary to say something about Johnny’s behaviour.
He sat the little boy on his knee and said, “Santa will be coming for both of you boys, but you were still wrong to scribble in Scott’s book. Papa has explained this to you. Johnny can draw on a tablet but not in books. Now, say sorry to Scott.”
Scott was standing by his father’s side, leaning against Murdoch’s leg. Johnny leaned over and grabbed his brother in a bear hug. “Sowwy, Squat, but Johnny not naughty,” and he gave Scott a rather snotty kiss on the cheek.
The older boy was still upset about his book but accepted the apology, as he knew his father expected him to. “Okay, Johnny. You’re not naughty, just a bit bad.”
This seemed to satisfy the little one, and peace was once more restored to the house.
It was almost time for the junior members of the Lancer family to retire to their beds, and the three adults in the house were more than ready for that time to arrive. Even with Maria helping, it had taken much longer than usual for Murdoch and Mamacita to get two small boys bathed and into their nightshirts and robes.
Finally, Murdoch sat down in his favourite chair, with both his boys snuggled up on his lap.
Johnny was determined he was not going to go to sleep until he’d seen Santa arrive and Scott kept telling him that if he didn’t go to sleep, then Santa would never come. Murdoch managed to stop a riot by telling the boys the story of the first Christmas, and, despite all his protests, Johnny was the first to succumb to the land of Nod. Scott wasn’t far behind his brother.
“Peace at last,” whispered Murdoch to Maria as she lifted Johnny off his father and into her arms. She headed up the stairs, with Murdoch following her, carrying Scott.
Once they were absolutely sure the boys were sound asleep, Murdoch began arranging the gifts under the tree, while Maria filled the stockings hanging from the mantelpiece, with lots of little, sweet treats.
Murdoch’s final task was to eat about half of the cookie the boys had left out for Santa and for Maria to take a large swig from the glass of milk, to convince the boys that Santa enjoyed the snack.
Christmas morning arrived very early in the Lancer household, and soon, the air was filled with the noise of tearing wrapping paper and excited squeals when the contents of the packages were revealed. Scott was delighted with the new saddle and bridle but also a little confused, as he didn’t have a pony to put them on.
However, the little boy was too polite to query why Papa had given them to him. Once all the gifts in the house were unwrapped, Murdoch instructed the boys to put their coats on, over their nightwear. Both boys were surprised at the request, but did as they were told, although Johnny did have a token grumble, as he wanted to stay and play with his new set of soldiers.
The two parents and the little boys made their way to the barn, with Murdoch carrying Scott’s new saddle. In the first stall stood the little pony, waiting patiently for his new master.
“Merry Christmas, Scott,” said Murdoch, giving Scott a gentle push as the boy appeared to be rooted to the spot.
“He’s mine?” whispered a stunned Scott.
“Yes, son, all yours.”
As Scott made his way towards the pony, a shout from Johnny broke the almost reverent silence which pervaded the barn.
“Nooooo, pony Johnny’s.”
Johnny, too, made his way over to the little horse and tried to push Scott out of the way, but Murdoch ran after him and scooped the younger boy up in his arms.
“No, Johnny, that is Scott’s pony. This is yours,” and he led Johnny to the next stall, where another Christmas gift was waiting for the two-year-old.
It was a beautifully hand-carved rocking horse, a palomino, with a brown leather saddle and bridle. Before Johnny could utter another word, Murdoch deposited the little boy onto the saddle and showed him how to make the horse rock.
In the meantime, Scott was getting acquainted with his new mount and once Murdoch could see that Johnny was happy with his ‘pony’ he left Maria to watch him and turned his attention to Scott. Between them, they soon had the pony tacked up and Scott was in the saddle. Murdoch took the reins and led the pony around the corral a couple of times before Mamacita called them inside for breakfast.
Throughout the day, Scott paid several visits to his pony, as did Johnny, but once it got dark, Johnny soon saw the advantage of having a wooden horse, as he was able to bring it into the house. But being the generous little boy he was, he allowed his older brother to ride on his ‘horsey’, too.
Merry Christmas to all my Lancer friends
Lancer lives on!
*I hope I have not sullied the memory of Southernfrau’s wonderful Brat Pack stories by using Squat as Johnny’s name for his big brother. Nothing else came to mind and I have used it in homage to Southernfrau’s amazing talent.
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4 thoughts on “THEIR FIRST CHRISTMAS By Lynne”
Great very cute. Thank you for writing it
Thank you very much for your feedback
I liked your young brother story. Too bad they didn’t really grow up together. Thanks for sharing.
Very kind of you to leave feedback.
It would have been nice for the boys to have grown up together with their father, but then they wouldn’t have been the people they were in the show, would they?