Word Count 1,613
A Special Lancer Thanksgiving Drabble
Usual Disclaimers Apply – No Beta – Flying Solo
~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~
Thursday, November 30, 1871
Murdoch sat at his desk, looking with misty-eyed sadness at the likeness of his dear departed blonde Catherine over to the likeness of his dark fiery firecracker, Maria, he was vaguely conscious of the sounds emulating around him. From the popping, hissing and crackling of the fireplace in the Great Room to the sounds of joyous laughter from the kitchen where he could hear Maria, Teresa and the other “many hands” making light work of the feast in the making. He stood up to work the kinks out of his back and stretched while he smiled as four or five children in their Sunday best ran across the yard chasing a ball they were kicking, while Johnny and Scott ran after them in pursuit, making the small girls shriek in delight. He was thankful that this Thanksgiving he was on his feet, not like last year when he almost died and Paul O’Brien did.
Looking out further he saw that Cipriano was directing ranch hands as they finished assembling two long tables and a smaller table for the children. He saw chairs carried in possession from one of the storage buildings while Jelly was busy turning the spit where a pig had been roasting for hours. Breathing deeply Murdoch’s stomach growled as the smells wafted in the light breeze through the open French doors. It was a glorious sunny day, perfectly warm seasonal temperatures, a day to give thanks for all the bounty of the land, as well as for being alive to see his sons home where they belonged.
“Murdoch Lancer! What are you doing in here? Go tend to your guests! Now you move along,” fussed a young dark-haired girl, with rosy cheeks, standing in the doorway, wiping her hands on her apron.
Murdoch smiled down at the mere wisp of a girl, “Teresa you’re right, of course. What am I doing in here, these books can wait!” He used as a pretense while he shrugged on his dress coat as Teresa stood on tip-toe adjusting his string tie.
“I hope you’ll tell Johnny and Scott not to get dirty, chasing after those kids,” she fussed. “Now you go outside and mingle with the men while the ladies and I finish dinner. We should be ready within the hour. I’m sure they are all ready for a refill of their drinks anyway,” she smiled, turning to the drink cart she handed him a Waterford decanter of his Talisker’s.
“Yes, Miss Bossy,” chuckled Murdoch as he pinched Teresa’s nose and chucked her on her chin. “I’ll go right away and tend to our guests.” He leaned down to place a fatherly kiss on top of her head, saying, “I know that I don’t offen say it but thank you darling.”
Teresa waved him off before turning to made quick adjustments of his desk, placing the treasured photos away in the top right drawer.
Holding the decanter, Murdoch headed towards the heavy oak front door as Johnny and Scott poked their heads inside, both breathing laboriously from their excursions of chasing after kids. “Murdoch? Ya comin’ outside?”
“Sir, I think you’ll want to hear the on-going debate,” added Scott. “It’s about the upcoming governor’s election.”
“Thank you, my sons, I’m coming with the liquid reinforcements,” smiled a grateful Murdoch as he placed a hand, first on Scott’s shoulder, then to Johnny’s. The three Lancer men joined the others on the veranda where cigar smoke and sounds of clinking of glass on glass was heard if one listened for the small sounds over the boisterous discussion taking place.
Soon out from the hacienda marched a small army of women, with Teresa leading the way, arms full with tablecloths, napkins, dried floral arrangements, silverware, the fine china that Scott’s mother had brought with her from Boston, the matched set of silver candlestick holders that Johnny’s mother had brought from Mexico. Johnny and Scott jumped to their aid, but a look from Murdoch stopped them in their tracks, “No boys, stay here, this is Teresa’s show to run. If she needs our help she’ll ask for it, but looks like she’s got everything under control.”
The children off in the distance were climbing trees, and playing on the rope swings that Johnny and Scott had put up for this special day. Jelly was adding his special finishing glaze to the roasting pig that glistened in the brilliant sunshine. The men continued their conversation on the merits of the current governor, Henry Huntley Haight, Democrat and Newton Booth, Republican, with the election ten days away, the men were animated. Haight accomplished much in restoring law and order in California after the days of the Vigilantes, was of Scottish descent. He was a graduate of Yale; arrived in California in 1850; had been appointed United States district judge by Abraham Lincoln. Booth was an upstart lawyer who came to California and had success as a wholesale grocer prior to his election as State Senator. It would be a close race, Murdoch was sure.
Teresa interrupted the lively debate by ringing the dinner bell and children ran from the four corners to come wash up, while the men made adjustments to their ties and jackets, then escorted either their wives or other ladies by pitching in to carry covered platters, bowls, baskets of the meal to the tables. The children had their own special table to the side of the long tables meant for the abundance of adults. Everyone promptly found their places thanks to the name cards that Teresa had written using her best flourishes and whirls.
Murdoch was of course at the head of the table, while Teresa sat at the opposite end as the Lancer’s hostess, Scott to Murdoch’s right and Johnny to his left. Looking around the tables, Murdoch’s heart was full with pride at his sons and the friends who had joined them, Dr. Sam Jenkins, Sheriff Val Crawford, Mayor Higgs and his daughter, Arabella, the Widow Hargis and Zee (who eyed Arabella with suspicion, Johnny noted and smirked, getting a swift kick under the table by Scott with a nippy glare), Pony Alice and her adopted mother, Florida, now raising Vinny Buttermere, Andy-Jack Sickles and Silas Hacket (bless her heart!), Jelly, Cipriano, Maria and their other hands were there as well, Polly Foley with her baby daughter, sleeping on a blanket nearby, Marcy Dane, Charlie and Mollie Poe, Andy and Dorrie all made the journey, even Judd and Ellen Haney joined the Lancers to celebrate this most exceptional Thanksgiving’s feast, the first one with the Lancer brothers home for good. Murdoch was thankful to have this day and to share it with so many of the people that had crossed into their lives.
Murdoch had been busy craving the turkey when he realized that all eyes were upon him waiting for him to make a speech. He cleared his throat as he raised his glass for a toast, “Family and friends, first I would like to thank everyone for joining us on this magnificent day. Second, I know this is a surprise to them but I want my boys to offer us their own toast on this day of national thanksgiving. Scott, would you start us off?”
Scott looked around the table as saw Johnny grinning at him, “Brother, don’t smirk too much, you’re next.” Getting to his feet, Scott raised his glass of wine. “Emerson said…” making Johnny groan at that reference but stopped under Murdoch perusal of him and arched right eyebrow (Johnny didn’t know how Murdoch could raise just the one eyebrow), but it made him sit up straighter in his chair and pay attention.
“As I was saying, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends, for everything Thy goodness sends. Happy Thanksgiving one and all.” He took a sip of his wine as did the guests, then pointed to Johnny, grinned as he sat down, “Johnny, it’s your turn.”
Johnny looked around and took note that his friend Val was trying not to chuckle at seeing his friend speak before the large gathering, almost held his breath as Johnny stood up, “I ain’t ta good at these things but here goes, bless this food and us that eats it. A cowboy’s grace,” he shrugged to the waiting guests, took a quick drink and quickly sat back down.
Murdoch stood, with his long extension of his arms was able to place his hands softly on the shoulders of each son, pulling slightly to guide them alongside of him, began his toast only it turned out to be a special thanksgiving grace he said for this distinctive celebration, “Dear Lord, as we gather together around this table laden with your plentiful gifts to us, we thank You for always providing what we really need and for sometimes granting wishes for things we don’t really need.”
He swallowed the large lump that was forming in his throat before he could continue, “Today, let us be especially thankful for each other — for family and friends who enrich our lives in wonderful ways, even when they present us with challenges. Let us join together now in peaceful, loving fellowship to celebrate Your love for us and our love for each other. Amen.”
Patti – November 19, 2009
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, both near and far.
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