Synopsis: The team decorates in preparation to celebrate Christmas in Four Corner.
Category: The Magnificent Seven
Word Count: 1,075
Inez Recillos was busily hanging greenery around the half-floor gambling table’s railing.
Buck Wilmington was perched on an enormous ladder in the middle of the room hanging mistletoe from the suspended beam. He was busy thinking of all the women he’d be stealing kisses from under one of the many bunches of the green plant with the white berries he was hanging.
JD Dunne, perched on a smaller ladder, was hanging more greens entwined with cranberries from the top of the mirrored cabinet behind the bar. He smiled and hummed Christmas carols. He was fondly remembering helping around the house where his mother worked, decorating for that family’s celebration. Leftover greenery would decorate the room his mother shared with another of the house keepers. JD would get more of the abundant greens for his room over the stables.
Outside, Vin Tanner was perched on the edge of the roof, hanging more greenery and lanterns from the very edge. He wondered while he worked what all the fuss was about. Oh, he knew the story of the Christ child. He even believed in His power. But Vin Tanner could never remember celebrating Christmas. He was only five when his mother died. Left to mostly fend for himself in a series of foster homes, he wasn’t much more than an indentured servant. He’d watched others celebrate, but was never given the chance to himself. This year would be different. He was quickly becoming overwhelmed by all the preparations.
Below on the ground, Chris Larabee kept one eye on the white posts he was encircling with red ribbon. The other eye kept a watch on the nimble tracker above. Tanner seemed to be half Billy goat, half Indian and one hundred percent trouble. He chuckled to himself as he added up the percentages, two hundred percent. ‘He certainly seems to get into enough trouble for two,’ he thought ruefully.
Hanging out a second story window, Ezra P. Standish was tacking more of the ever present greenery around the upstairs windows. “I wonder how much of the forest has been destroyed to supply all of this.”
Nathan Jackson and Josiah Sanchez were carrying a tree into the saloon to set up in the corner; while they worked, they smiled and talked about Christmas’s past.
Down the street, Mary Travis, her son Billy and her mother-in-law were baking bread, pies, and cookies to be shared at the community celebration.
Across the street, Gloria Potter and her two children were decorating their store while Gloria monitored the yams and potatoes she was cooking for the celebration.
Further down the street, the owner of the boarding house was tending one of the turkeys that would be served. In a big iron Dutch oven on the stove top, a ham was baking. Over the fireplace, a pot of corn pudding was baking in the stone oven
The streets were alive with people bustling about running errands and making their final purchases of gifts for friends and loved ones.
A large wagon lumbered through town, its progress slowed to keep from upsetting the vast array of foods Nettie and Casey Wells had prepared for the town’s celebration. They pulled up to the saloon and began to survey the transformation that was taking place.
Vin saw them arrive and leapt from the roof to land in the street near the wagon.
Nettie and Chris both scolded him. “Vin, God! Dammit, can’t you use the ladder like normal people?” hollered Chris.
Nettie was more polite, but equally as stern. “Vin Tanner, you could have broken your scrawny neck, not to mention you shortened my life by another five years.”
“Ah, shucks, Miz Nettie,” Vin said with a blush. “I just was so happy to see you, I wanted to get down and help you carry in all this wonderful food,” he said as he sniffed the air. “Is that peach cobbler I smell, my favorite.”
Nettie replied, “Just don’t do it again. You know I’d hate for you to hurt yourself. Please use the ladder from now on.”
Chris turned away to hide his smile and choked back a snicker. ‘Leave it to Tanner to charm the old curmudgeon,’ he thought. ‘There isn’t a woman in the area that doesn’t fall for that Texas-drawled “Ah, shucks,” accompanied by that blush and a compliment. Tanner charm — if I could just figure out how to bottle it, I’d be a wealthy man.’
The foursome began carrying food in and placing it on the bar. The tables were covered in red, green and or white tablecloths. The windows, mirrors and glassware sparkled in the glow of the candles. The scent of pine hung in the air.
Soon the rest of the townspeople began arriving. The seven regulators went from home to home, helping to carry the dishes for their feast.
Everyone stood around the room and formed a large circle. The peacekeepers looked uncomfortable as Mary asked everyone to join hands for the prayer of grace.
Mary saw the discomfort. ‘Men,’ she thought, ‘if one is injured, they think nothing of holding his hand or cradling him in the saddle. Ask them to hold hands to say grace and they blush like schoolboys on their first date.’ She stepped between Nathan and Ezra and took the hand of each man.
Nettie saw and moved between Chris and Vin.
Casey was already between Buck and JD.
Gloria filled the place between Vin and Buck.
Nathan and Josiah had no problem with holding hands. In their calling, they did it often. Billy moved between Chris and Ezra to be near his hero.
Josiah’s deep soothing tones, wafted airborne. “Our Father, thank you for your Son whose earthly birth we celebrate today. Thank you for keeping us and providing the bounty we are about to receive. Amen.”
The gathered crowd echoed “Amen” and lined up to fill their plates from the vast array of foods on the bar.
The seven settled around two tables with Mary, Billy, Nettie, Casey, Gloria and her children.
Vin Tanner spoke up, his usually quiet voice ringing to every one of the four corners of the room. He was quoting from “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens that Mary was helping him read. “God bless us everyone.”1
Merry Christmas to all my wonderful friends from the world of The Magnificent Seven.