I'm a writer. And sometimes writers get inspired by strange things. And sometimes by not so strange things. This December I heard a song and my brain said, "Wouldn't that be fun to write into a story?" My Self agreed and I kept thinking that I would write it. But I was too busy. I kept hearing the song because, well, it's peppy and fun and my mom likes to listen to it while she washes the dishes. So I finally wrote it. It was fun. And I hope you enjoy this story. And the song that inspired it.
It was Christmas day. The air outside was crisp, and the snow sparkled and glittered across the farmyard in the late afternoon sunshine. Inside the house all was warm and cozy. Smells from the kitchen pervaded every nook and cranny of the snug farmhouse, from the living room where the large tree stood looking bare with all the gifts gone, to the farthest corner of the attic where empty boxes stood waiting to be filled once again with the ornaments and decorations of Christmas time.
Rousing from his afternoon nap, Farmer Jones yawned and stretched. Standing up he sniffed the air and then, tucking his thumbs in his suspenders, he ambled from the living room. “Sure smells good, don’t it?” he remarked to his second son.
Eighteen-year-old Jeremiah looked up from hanging his coat on the hook. “Sure does. Think Mother has dinner about ready, Pa?”
“Sure hope so. I’ll go find out.”
Sauntering down the hall through the dining room and into the kitchen, Farmer Jones sniffed again. The turkey smelled divine! His wife, an apron tied about her ample waist, was bustling here and there, a smudge of flour on her cheek and wisps of her hair curling about her face instead of staying properly in her bun.
“Mother,” Farmer Jones said, “everybody’s starvin’. Let’s eat.”
Mother Jones, as she was known far and wide, turned around, a wooden spoon in her hand. “Hold your horses, Father. I’ve got a million courses to get ready, and,” she waved her spoon with a shake of her head. “I’m fixing a treat! I could use some help though.”
Quickly Father Jones turned around. He heard someone whistling and called out, “Jeremiah, go and help your mother.” Then, catching sight of the thirteen-year-old twins on the stairs, he added, “Jane and Jonah, you too.”
The clatter of the twins’ feet was heard as they rushed down the stairs. No doubt they had been smelling the feast and were hungry.
After checking in the living room and the library but not finding his other children, Farmer Jones looked out the front door. “Ah, there’s another one,” he thought to himself, hurrying to the door and swinging it wide open. “Hezekiah!” His shout caused the head of his third son to raise from the wood he had been stacking.
“Go and fetch your brother.”
“Sure thing, Pa. Which one? And where is he?”
“Jud. I ‘spect he’s in the barn with his horse.” When Hezekiah nodded, Father started to shut the door and then stuck his head out once more. “Then fetch Amy and Sue.”
Hezekiah’s brown head nodded as he strode off toward the red barn.
Patting his round stomach, Father shut the door and sighed. He could smell all those dishes Mother was fixing and he couldn’t wait to sit down with his family and partake. It was a favorite part of the Jones family Christmas day.
It wasn’t long before Hezekiah and Jud could be heard stomping the snow off their boots on the porch. A gust of cold air came in with the boys and Father, turning from watching Jane, her pretty dark hair tied back with a red ribbon, set the table, saw Hezekiah start up the stairs, no doubt in search of the two youngest Jones girls.
Things were in a bustle as Jed, and then Hezekiah, Amy, and Sue all joined in to help Mother get the food on. Father stayed out of the way. He was no help in the kitchen and knew it. As each steaming dish was brought to the table, his mouth watered even more. Finally he stationed himself before his chair at the head of the table and Jeremiah set the turkey down before him. It was golden brown and steam rose in a fragrant wave.
As everyone found their places, the three oldest boys, Jud, Jeremiah and Hezekiah, on one side, Jane and Jonah, Amy and Sue on the other, and Mother at the food, Father smiled.
“Mother, everybody’s happy. We’ve got a reason to smile.”
Mother laughed her bright, bubbly laugh which caused smiles and a few giggles among her children. “That’s ‘cause you know that I’m about to serve a Christmas dinner country style.”
“No doubt, Mother, no doubt. But let’s all sit and bow our heads. I’ll say grace, then we’ll break bread.”
There was a slight shuffling as each person quickly sat down. Every head, light, dark, and a few browns, bowed reverently as Father gave thanks for the dinner and for Christmas and what it meant. After a hearty “Amen” from everyone present, heads were lifted and eyes sparkled at the knowledge that they were about to partake of Mother’s wonderful cooking.
“Put your napkins in your lap, girls,” Mother reminded Amy and Sue.
“While Jud pours cider from the tap,” added Father. “Is it fresh cider, Jud?”
“Sure is, Pa. I made it yesterday with some of the apples from the cellar since we had such a lot.”
There was so much food and it was passed along from one person to the next, across the table, clock-wise and counter-clock-wise. Turkey, both dark and white meat, ham, chestnut stuffing, huckleberry muffins, marshmallow yam, and cranberry sauce, rhubarb, and black-eyed peas. It was a feast to fill any hungry boy or girl. Or a dozen of them. Everyone ate and talked and ate some more. Seconds were had by everyone and the four boys even had thirds.
“I think I’m ‘bout to explode, Mother,” Jane said, leaning back in her chair.
“Me too,” echoed Amy and Sue.
“Have a little pickled quince,” Jeremiah offered, holding out the dish.
“Choose your pie, everyone,” Father instructed. “Pumpkin or mince.”
No one refused. How could they when it was Mother who had made them? But at last no one could eat another bite.
Leaning back in his chair, Father looked down the table at his wife and said, “Oh, dinner was grand, to say the least!” Glancing at his children seated on either side of the now ravished table, he added, with a nod toward Mother Jones, “Honor the lady who cooked this feast.”
“Mother, thank you for the dinner!” Chorused all seven children.
And Jonah added, “All the fixin’s were great!”
A broad smile crossed Mother’s face. “Nothin’ to it. I’m mighty glad to do it, seein’ how much you ate! Now I shouldn’t have to feed you until spring.”
A general laugh filled the dining room and then Jud pushed back his chair. “Well, it’s time to clear it all away. Come on. Jeremiah, get the turkey, or what’s left of it. Hezekiah, the ham platter. The rest of you start collecting the dishes. Mother, you and Father go sit in the living room and just relax.”
With a smile, Mother stood up. “All right, but don’t you go and break any of my good china now.” It was something she said every year, and none of it had been broken except one saucer when Jeremiah was no larger than the family dog.
Beaming, Father rose slowly, tucked his thumbs in his suspenders and stood a moment watching his children clear off the table. Then, with a sigh, he ambled slowly into the living room and built up the fire in the large stone fireplace before sinking down into his favorite chair. “That sure was a Christmas dinner, Mother,” he remarked.
Wearily Mother rested her feet on the footstool and nodded. “It sure was.”
Before long the children appeared in the doorway, their faces bright and no sign of having stuffed themselves.
“Jeremiah,” Jane begged, “go and get your fiddle!”
“Yeah, go get it,” eagerly pleaded Amy and Sue, while his brothers all nodded in agreement.
“All right.” Jeremiah sauntered into the other room, and they could hear the sounds of the fiddle strings as he tested them. Soon he was back, lightly drawing the bow over the strings in a tune which set each foot to tapping.
“Come on, Father, let’s dance,” begged Jane, hurrying to her father’s side.
But Farmer Jones shook his head and patted his full stomach, “I’m too full of turkey and stuffing. Sorry, Janie, I ain’t takin’ a chance. Get one of your brothers to take you for a spin.”
So, while Mother and Father sat watching, the six children, Jud and Amy, Hezekiah and Sue, and Jane and Jonah danced to the lively tunes Jeremiah brought forth from his fiddle.
When at last the fiddler ceased and everyone sank laughing onto chairs and sofas, Father said, “It’s been a very, very merry Christmas. We’ve got reason to smile.” He looked around at each shining face “Mother, everybody loved your Christmas dinner country style.”
Here's the song that inspired it all. :)
Click on the image to find and enjoy more 12 Days of Christmas posts.
And have a wonderful Christmas Eve!