By: Rebecca Taylor
Looking at this week’s prompt made me think of a chapter from a novel I’d written and while I know you don’t know the characters in my book, I thought you might enjoy this festive chapter. Feedback is appreciated and if you like what you’ve read, perhaps I’ll share more of Lee and Lilyana’s lives with you. It is important to note that this is fiction and Thanksgiving and Christmas have their own unique schedule in my make believe town.
The first weekend in November arrived, and with it so did Thanksgiving. Lilyana had settled into married life easily over the past three months and was happy to have Lee home for the holidays.
“Of everything I have, waking up with you each morning reminds me how precious love is,” said Lilyana as she lay in bed, Lee’s arms wrapped around her Thanksgiving morning.
“And I’m thankful to have you; I thank God for you every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to bed.”
“I wish we didn’t have to get up right now, lying here with you feels so good but I have a turkey to put in the oven if we’re going to have our dinner party. I’m glad Nan helped me cook one yesterday for in the bunkhouse.”
“Then I guess we’d better get up, I’ll come have my coffee with you, and then I’ll head out to the barn while you get our feast cooking.”
Over the next several hours, Lilyana cooked and cleaned. Nan eventually joined in helping her. At dinnertime, a delicious meal of turkey, biscuits, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, peas and pumpkin pie was served and enjoyed by Lilyana, Lee, John, Nan, Mac, Ally, Wade, Dustin and Rosamunde. Since the wedding, Lee had been able to manage his jealousy towards Dustin because he had Lilyana and Dustin had found someone to love too. At dinner, Ally and Wade announced that they were going to get married in the New Year.
The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas passed quickly on the ranch and it came time to put up the Christmas tree. Lee and a bunch of the ranch hands including Mac had gone out to get three trees – one for the ranch house, one for the bunkhouse and one for Nan and Mac’s cabin. Inside the ranch house, Lilyana brought the decorations, which she and her parents had collected over the years into the living room and started going through the boxes. She was wearing a pair of jeans and a red sweater, and was humming to a Christmas song that was on the radio. John came in from the office where he was doing paperwork. He was smiling as he watched his daughter’s enthusiasm. Since she’s married Lee, she has been so happy. Last year she pretended to enjoy the holidays but this year she’s really into it.
“Hi, Daddy,” said Lilyana looking up from one of the boxes, “this is Mother’s angel collection. We haven’t put it out in a while, what do you think if we did this year?”
“I think that would be just fine,” he answered touching Lilyana’s shoulder. Hannah would be happy seeing her angels out this year. I think we’ve only put them out one or two times since she died, putting them out was just too much of a reminder of what we had lost and then last year with Lee gone Lilyana wasn’t in a real holiday mood.
When Lee and Jeff Dawes came in with the tree and set it up, the angels were on display on one windowsill and so was the crèche on another. Once Jeff had gone out to the bunkhouse to help with the tree there, Lee kissed Lilyana on the cheek.
“Where do we start?” he asked, “This is the first year when I’m really going to have a tree, it’s not going to be the one in the school house from when I was a boy, or the bunkhouse tree or the Vance’s tree like last year. This year, I’m going to really have a tree. This year I won’t be intruding on somebody else’s tradition.”
“This year and many more to come,” said Lilyana wrapping her arm around his waist. “We start with the lights, we have clear ones or multicoloured ones, we have to decide which.”
“Which ones do you think we should have, you know what decorations we have to go with them.”
“I think the clear ones,” she answered, “sometimes we alternate but I think you’ll like the way the clear ones really show off our decorations.”
Our decorations, thought Lee, I like the sound of that, especially when my wife says it. I really like the sound of that.
Lee and Lilyana put the lights on the tree, John watched from the sofa smiling as Lilyana brought Lee up to date on tree decorating Moderna style.
“Will you put the star on top?” asked Lilyana, “You’re tall enough to be able to reach; if I do it I’ll need the ladder.”
Lee took the star from Lilyana and positioned it on the top of the tree. Next he and Lilyana arranged the rest of the decorations around the tree and then they plugged in the tree to show off the beauty of the glowing lights and the star.
“I like it,” said Lilyana as she and Lee stood back admiring the tree.
“Me too,” answered Lee taking Lilyana’s hand in his.
“It is beautiful as always,” answered John, “although I think this year it is really something.”
“And it was fun,” replied Lilyana.
“It isn’t always?” asked Lee.
“I’m feeling festive this year,” she answered. “We’re having Christmas together. I’ve missed you the last two.”
“Well we’re going to make this one very special,” answered Lee.
On Christmas Eve, a party was held at the ranch house where all the ranch hands and many friends from town were invited. Everyone who was invited came, except for Dustin and Rosamunde who had gone their separate ways for the holidays – Dustin home to Pastime to see his family and Rosamunde to Holdings to see hers. There was dancing and Christmas carols, baked goodies and hot apple cider.
This is joy, thought Lilyana, and peace, that feeling that everything is going to be all right. After all that time of debating about my relationship with Lee, now I have something so wonderful, it’s an unreal feeling, a great feeling.
When everyone had gone home for the night, and Lee and Lilyana were finally in bed, it was past midnight.
“Merry Christmas,” said Lee kissing Lilyana.
“Merry Christmas,” answered Lilyana returning his kiss before snuggling under the warmth of the covers and putting her head on Lee’s chest. “Good night.”
When daylight came, they went downstairs to make coffee. Lilyana started the pancakes and Lee sat keeping her company in the kitchen. Outside snow was falling; big flakes were swirling around the windowpanes.
“I’m glad we had our party yesterday,” said Lilyana, “we might end up with quite the storm.”
“Yes, but by now everyone has been home for hours, safe and enjoying their Christmas too. And for the first time in my life, I am having a real Christmas, one where I belong. Last year with the Vances was nice, but it was their Christmas that I was intruding on, this year I feel like I’m a part of something.”
“That’s because you belong with me.”
A little while later John joined them for breakfast and then the three of them went into the living room to open presents. Lilyana gave Lee a new saddle.
“Thank you,” he said. Mine is starting to wear out and this one is a beauty.”
“You’re welcome,” she answered, “I hope Rusty agrees with my choice.”
“He will,” said Lee handing her a large gift-wrapped package. Inside was a quilt, big enough for a double bed. It was similar to the one she had on the bed in her old room, the one her mother had made her. The blues, browns and reds blended together in an old fashioned country pattern. Lilyana rubbed her fingers over the soft fabric.
“Lee, it’s beautiful, it’s just the thing for our room.”
“I saw you looking at your quilt one day, I know that your mother didn’t make this one but it is made with love, hand stitched by the ladies at the quilt shop in town.”
“And I’ll love it always because it’s from you.”
And I plan to love it too, with you under it, thought Lee smiling as he put his arm around Lilyana’s shoulder from his place beside her on the sofa.