GUYS IT'S CHRISTMAS EVE! And the 11th day of "The 12 Days of Christmas"!
I got chosen to go shopping with dad today . . and we're apparently getting up at 6am. Soooo . . . that'll be fun! Though tiring. ;)
And . . . here's part three of As in Olden Days! You can find the previous two parts here
David bit his lip to keep from laughing. The usually eloquent, full of himself Gil actually seemed intimidated.
Lily shook her head and gave a short laugh. “Gil, I’m befuddled. What are you talking about?”
Gil didn’t rely on words, instead he simply pointed up at the door-frame with his finger.
Leaning forward to see what he was pointing at, Lily’s face blossomed into a red rose. “Why, David Sullivan! How dare you--”
She was silenced as Gil suddenly and impulsively reached down, cupped her face in his hands, and placed a kiss on the tip of her nose, amid whistles from Rafe and David.
When he was finished, he stepped back, his eyes on Lily. She clasped her hands in front of her, and looked down at the floor. The girls, who had stepped to the door to see what all the ruckus was about, grinned, though Elaine sent a scathing look David’s way. He winked back at her, and she shook her head, though a smile titled her lips.
Mrs. Sullivan stepped forward and put an arm around Lily. “How would you like to help serve the cider, dear?”
Lily nodded, as though not trusting herself to speak, and retreated into the kitchen.
Gil still stood where he was, and David lightly cuffed him on the shoulder. “You gonna thank me now?”
“No, I’m gonna kill you.” The look in Gil's eyes hardly convinced David of that fact.
Mr Sullivan, who had been watching the scene with a smile, shook his head. “David, Rafe, someday someone's gonna do that to you and you won’t find it quite so funny.”
Rafe crossed his arms. “As long as it’s not Anne standing in the doorway, I’ll be good with it.”
Before anyone could reply, the girls stepped into the doorway, each one of them except Elaine carrying two cups of cider.
For a moment David was a bit confused, but then Janie walked up to him and handed him the second cup she was carrying. “This is for you, David.”
He smiled and took the cup from her. “Thanks, Sugar.”
She grinned and carefully took her own cup and curled up in the floor by the couch.
Elaine walked over to stand next to David. She smiled, and took a sip of her own cider. “I was going to bring you a cup, but Janie asked it she could bring one to “her Dave”, so I let her.”
“Well,thank you.” David smiled at Janie’s name for him, and blew on the top of his cider, watching the steam as it vanished. “I know she loves to help with everything and anything.”
“Yes, she does.” Elaine’s eyes strayed to Janie with a tender look in them that didn’t escape David’s notice. “She’s the sweetest thing.”
David opened his mouth to reply, but was cut short by Mr. Sullivan standing. “Well, if you can all find your seats and get comfortable, we’ll begin reading from the book of Matthew, about the account of our Saviour’s birth.
The room hushed, and David and Elaine sat where they had been standing, their backs against the wall. Gil and Lily took the easy chair, with Lily perched on Gil’s lap. Rafe and Anne sat on the floor, and Mrs. Sullivan sat next to her husband on the sofa.
The fire crackling in the background was the only other sound that could be heard as Mr. Sullivan opened the Bible to the first chapter of Matthew and began to read. He would read through the end of the 2nd chapter, and as he listened, David’s mind began to drift. What would it be like to be Joseph? To be visited by an angel in dream, and then to have to trust that what the angel--and your betrothed--said was true.
it made him stop and think. Would he have the faith to believe something like that? For the first time, a new respect for Joseph rose in him. So often you heard about Mary’s faith, and while she did have great faith, Joseph’s was hardly ever mentioned. Yet, this man had still taken her and cared for her, and been willing to accept the responsibility that God had given him.
A gentle hand on his arm shook him from his thoughts, and Elaine smiled softly. “We’re finished with the reading,” she whispered.
David nodded his thanks, and turned his attention to Dad. “As most of you know, we sing carols next. Normally, Anne plays the piano for us.” He smiled across the room at Anne. “But this year, I’d like Elaine to play for us, if you’re willing?” His eyes asked Elaine the question.
She looked a bit surprised, and turned to David. When he nodded, she stood. “I’d love to!” She made her way over to the piano and sat down, and soon they were singing carol after carol. Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Away in a Manger, I heard the bells on Christmas day, and Joy to the world.
As the piano died away on the final stanza of the last song, a hush descended over the room. Everyone seemed to be pondering the words of the last song. One day the baby in a manger would return to rule and reign Oh, how David longed for that day!
At last the quiet was broken by Janie jumping up. “Time for presents now, yes?”
Mrs. Sullivan’s face softened with a smile. “Yes, but only one for each person.”
“Okay!” The little girl rushed over to the tree and set to work distributing a package to each person in the room. When everyone had one, she looked up expectantly at her father. “May we open them now?”
He nodded, and she tore into hers, squealing when she pulled out a small, knitted doll. David knew mother had spend many hours making the play thing, and it made him happy to see how much Janie loved it. The others all opened their gifts slowly, not seeming near as excited as Janie.
David opened his to find a pair of dark, wool gloves. He fingered them softly, thinking about the warmth they would bring. He looked up, and met Mother's eyes across the room and smiled. “Thank you.”
She nodded. “You always are complaining about cold hands when you come back from the planes or the barn. I thought they might be put to good use.”
Rafe had the same thing as he did, while Lily, Anne, and Elaine had a scarf, and Gil and Mr. Sullivan had a pair or socks.
David chuckled as he looked around the room. Apparently, mother had instructed Janie to give everyone the homemade presents tonight. He didn’t mind. The fact that someone spent long hours making the gift made it more special than anything store-bought.
Mother recieved a bar of soap from Lily, and she beamed as she sniffed it, her greyish-green eyes lighting up with a smile. “Oh, it’s just divine! Thank you so much, dear.”
Lily ducked her head and rested it on Gil’s shoulder, murmuring that she was welcome.
As the paper was cleared away, Rafe stood and stretched. “All right, I’m ready to head over to the house and call it a night.”
Gil, looking rather reluctant, pushed Lily off his lap and got to his feet. “I agree; we’ve still got to check on the animals, so we need to get started on our way over there.”
Both of them stepped into the kitchen to bundle up, and David pulled himself to his feet. Slipping the gloves onto his hands, he followed them.
“Hey.” Rafe’s voice was muffled behind the scarf around his mouth. “Aren’t you two going to tell your girls goodnight?”
David rolled his eyes. “Of course, little bro. Aren’t you sad you don’t have any to bid farewell to?”
Grinning, Rafe shook his head. “Just wait, I’ll have mine one year soon!”
As soon as they were ready to head outdoors, the threesome stepped back into the living room.
“We’re leaving now, dad. ‘Night all.” Rafe gave a quick goodbye, waved, and made a beeline for the backdoor.
David shook his head, and turned toward Elaine, who had stepped beside him. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Merry Christmas eve, and don’t let Anne bully you.”
At those words, Elaine cocked an eyebrow. “Now that sounds more like something you would do, David Sullivan.”
David ducked his head. “Guilty as charged.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “See you tomorrow.”
Suddenly, two arms went around his legs, and David looked down to see Janie standing there.
"Good bye, David. See you tomorrow!”
He reached down and hugged her shoulders. “And I’ll see you tomorrow, Sugar.”
“Dave, I’m leaving!” Gil called from the backdoor.
Surprised Gil had already finished telling Lily goodnight, David turned. “‘Night Dad and Mom. Anne, Lily. See you all tomorrow.”
Apparently tired of waiting, Gil had already left, and David stepped out into the cold, closing the door behind him. He had only taken a few steps away from the house, when suddenly an icy cold slammed into his face and left him sputtering. Before he could gather his wits, he was knocked to the ground, and the person on him was washing his face in the snow. He fought against the hands that held him, but to no avail.
“And this is what you get for playing that prank!” Gil’s triumphant voice sounded above his head, that was now swimming.
Then, all at once, the weight lifted off his back, and a hand grasped his and pulled him to his feet.
David shook his head to clear the snow and glared at Gil, who stood with a smug smile on his face and his arms crossed.
“Where’s Rafe?” David was going to kill him for allowing that to happen.
“Oh, I sent him ahead to do the chores.” Gil replied, a smirk on his face. “That was his punishment. But you, you I needed to do more to.”
“Yeah, so you decided that my face needed a bath.”
Gil shrugged. “I said I’d kill you.”
David glared, trying hard to keep a grin off his face. “The one time I decide to play a prank, and what do you do? I never did anything for all the ones you played done me!”
“Ahh, that was different.” Gil raised a finger. “I never played any on you and a pretty girl.”
David considered it a moment. Gil had a point. At last he nodded and put out his hand. “Okay, truce?”
Gil didn’t hesitate. “Truce.”
As the two men started walking towards the Wilson’s house, David couldn’t help but ask the question he had been wondering all evening. “So, was having to kiss her--not even on the lips, I'll add--worth all that?"
Gil’s chuckle was low. “Wouldn't you like to know.”
They walked on in silence for a moment, and then Gil spoke again. “All I know is that when my days on this earth are over and I die, she’s going to be there, holding my hand.” Gil turned, and David met his gaze.
Never before had he seen Gil so serious, so determined.
“Because I’m going to ask her to marry her, and I’m not leaving her till God calls me home.”
“Hey, did you hear what Gil said?” David asked as he stepped into the warmth of the Wilson barn.
Rafe looked up from the ice he was breaking on the water trough and shook his head. “No, what?”
David couldn’t keep the grin off his face. “He’s going to ask Lily to marry him.”
“All right!” Rafe returned the grin, and their hands met in a clasp. “Score one for the Sullivan brothers!”
David shook his head and smiled. Whatever would he do without his brother and best friend?
Life would be different, that was for sure.
Christmas morning dawned bright and cold. David and Gil headed out to the barn first thing, leaving Rafe sleeping.
"You know he'd gonna kill us when he realizes we let him sleep in, right?" Gil asked as they walked toward the barn.
David shrugged. "He's almost twenty; plenty old enough to get himself up when the rooster crows. Besides," he grinned, "It'll make a fun story to tell. The youngest person at the Wilson house slept in on Christmas day." He took a deep breath and watched as his breath made a cloud in the frozen air, evaporating into the cloudless sky. It was a perfect Christmas day.
It took the two men no time to get two cows fed and tied, and soon the only sound on the barn was the warm, frothy milk streaming into the pails.
"Hey, Gil." David broke the silence. "Can I ask you a question?"
Gil chuckled, and directed a stream of milk at David, who ducked. The cow stomped her back hoof, but Gil didn't seem to take any notice. "You just did ask."
"Yeah, well, can I ask another question?"
"You just did."
David picked up a clod of dirt that lay at his feet, and tossed it at Gil.
It was Gil's turn to duck. "Okay, truce. Yes, you can ask me a question."
"Gee, thanks. I was wondering if I'd have to get permission from the government."
"Ya know." Gil took the pail of milk he had just filled and dumped it in the large bucket that would be carried to the separator in the kitchen. "If anyone heard our conversations, they'd think we were insane."
"We are." David stood from the milking stood, grabbed his own pail, and poured it into the bucket along with Gil's.
"Oh, now we just openly admit it." Gil spread his arms wide. "Look out, world. David Sullivan and Gil Wilson are crazy together. Beware."
David cuffed him on the shoulder. "Settle down, you're gonna spook the cows."
"That cows?" Gil shook his head. "I just think you want to keep our secret from everyone else. Including a certain Elaine."
Shaking his head, David settled back down on the milking stool and returned to his job. "Believe me, as soon as she met you and found out you were my best friend, Elaine knew I was a bit insane."
Gil didn't reply until he had let the first cow out to pasture, and brought the third one into milk. "Did you realize we're having an insane conversation about being insane?"
David chuckled, his shoulders shaking against the firm side of the cow. "Maybe we should just shut up."
"Yeah, you should."
Both Gil and David turned as Rafe entered the barn, a frown on his face. "What's up with you two leaving me inside?"
David turned his face to hide a smile, and assumed the most serious voice he could manage. "Rafe, we pondered awaking you. But you see, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to tell about how the youngest person in the Wilson house was the last to wake up on Christmas morn."
"Oh, I bet you just think you're smart, don't you?" Rafe grabbed the halter on one of the cows still waiting to be milked, secured it to a rail, and dumped feed in the feed-box.
Shrugging his shoulders, David let his cow out to pasture. "I'd like to think so."
Rafe growled, but apparently it was too early in the morning for him to think of a suitable comeback. David snickered and tucked the moment away. It wasn't often that he got the last word in their teasing.
The remaining five cows were milked quickly in silence, which was broken only by the occasional moo of one of the cows, who decided it should get a break from being milked on Christmas.
David didn't agree. Everyone else got the day off, except farmers and their animals, and that was fine with him. It was the way the Good Lord planned it.
When at last they finished and stepped back out into the white world, David took a deep breath. The silence of the morning seemed perfect for such a holy day.
"It makes you wonder, doesn't it?"
David turned at Gil's voice. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, this kind of stillness on a day like this. It makes you think about how perfect heaven is. Ten times more lovely than this. And yet, the King of creation chose to come to this world to save us filthy sinners from our sin and the hell-bound course we were intent on taking."
It wasn't often that Gil's words turned serious, but when they did, they never failed to give David something to ponder.
The three men stood there for a moment, together in the stillness.
Life was perfect on that cold, wintery morning, with the sun shining, and the world still asleep.
Not a one of them pondered where they would be the next year, and that was well and good. For had they known, it would have cast a dark shadow over the holy day, and tainted the priceless memories that were being made.
The Conclusion is coming your way tomorrow! Merry Christmas eve!!