Note: I got the idea for this story from Janet’s December Holiday list. I am still rather new at this writing thing. All mistakes are mine, and I welcome any constructive criticism and tips to help me become better at writing. I hope you enjoy it.
Word count: 880
It was a busy time at the estancia, as everyone was preparing for the boys’ first Christmas at Lancer. Wonderful aromas filled the home as the ladies baked endless cookies, pies and cakes for the celebration. The pine smell from the tree as well as the greenery Teresa placed through the house added to the scents.
Johnny, who should have been helping Scott and bossy Teresa with the decorating had sneaked away again to the kitchen to try to snitch some of the goodies. Maria, with her spoon, had banned him from the kitchen. Teresa’s bossiness seemed better than being beat with a spoon, so Johnny retreated back to the great room. Murdoch, at his desk, enjoyed watching his “children” having fun teasing and laughing. It was a sound he loved and his heart swelled.
The boys decided to take a break just as Maria came into the room carrying a tray of fresh baked cookies, and mugs of hot cocoa for everyone. Teresa waltzed into the room with the floral centerpiece for the table in the great room, and she too took a break to enjoy their treat before Johnny finished them all off.
Johnny grew very quiet as he gazed on the beautiful centerpiece. He seemed lost in thought. The others in the room noticed the change in him, and asked if he was alright. Johnny spoke softly, almost to himself, and to no one in particular. Scott, seated closest, asked Johnny to repeat what he just said. Louder this time, he said “Flores de Noche Buena”.
Scott looked puzzled until Murdoch explained that in Spanish, it means Flower of the Holy night; sometimes called Christmas Eve flower, or poinsettia.
Johnny noticed they were still looking at him with concern. He mentioned he was thinking of a story he heard as a child. Although reluctant at first, Johnny gave in to Teresa’s plea to hear the story. Murdoch now moved to his favorite chair to hear Johnny’s story and maybe learn a little more about the past of his youngest.
Johnny began his story. “When I was a child we moved around a lot. Most times we ended up in small villages. For a while we stayed at a village with an old mission church. Most of the village church members looked down on us. Mama was talked about for how she made money to support us, and me because I was a mestizo. We were not welcome, but sometimes I would sneak into the back of the church to hear the Padre speak. Around Christmas everybody seemed a little nicer toward us. One time near Christmas I sneaked in to the back of the church during services. The padre saw me and asked me to come sit up front with the other children. He then told this wonderful story of the Flores de Noche Buena.
“It was said that a poor peasant girl of no means cried because she had no gift to bring to the Christ child. An angel told her to pick the weeds at the side of the road for her offering. The child did, and laid them at the altar as her gift. The weeds burst into bright red beautiful flowers. The flower’s shape represents the star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood of Jesus as he later sacrificed himself for us. The poinsettia was from then on called the flower of the Holy night, or Christmas Eve flower.
“When services were over, Padre picked the biggest and prettiest poinsettia from the altar and gave it to me. I was so happy I had a wonderful Christmas present to give to Mama. She and I both attended midnight mass that Christmas Eve, and everyone was kind and welcoming. I thought how wonderful it would be if people were that nice to each other every day, not just on Christmas. Too soon, Mama packed us up again and we moved away, but I have never forgotten the Padre or that story. Seeing the poinsettias brought back memories.”
“Oh, Johnny, that was beautiful,” cried Teresa as she wiped the tears away. Giving Johnny a hug and a kiss she excused herself to complete her decorating.
Scott put his arm around Johnny’s shoulder and said whenever he sees a poinsettia from here on he will think of the story of the Flores de Noche Buena. Scott left to help Teresa, leaving only Johnny and Murdoch in the great room.
Murdoch, with tear filled eyes moved to sit next to Johnny. “Oh son, I am so sorry I could not be with you as you grew into the fine young man you are today” Murdoch said, as he drew Johnny into a fierce hug.
Johnny, with his head resting on his father’s chest, fighting his own tears said “You are here now, and that is all that matters to me”. The two stayed in the embrace a while longer, neither speaking. Johnny then got his emotions under control, and decided to lighten up the mood. “Hey, do you think Maria has any more cookies and hot cocoa in the kitchen?”
Murdoch smiled, then laughing, he replied “Let’s go see, Son”. The two headed to the kitchen, Murdoch’s arm around his son’s shoulders.
~ end ~
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