"I had such dreams about all of them living around. Dozens of children, visiting back and forth at Christmases and Birthdays."
Milly recalled the words she had uttered to Adam few years ago. It really was a dream come true. She still couldn't believe it. They were all together as a big family, and supported each other no matter what. The Pontipee family had become the strongest family in the territory of Oregon. Everyone respected and looked up to them. Five years had passed since everything happened, and now all of them were living peaceful and happily.
It was Christmas Eve, the snowflakes fell lightly and beautifully on the Pontipee homestead. The house was decorated with holly, mistletoe, candles, and in the center stood a splendid Christmas tree with a shining star on top of it. Of course Adam was the one who placed the star at the very top. The tree was really tall and only Adam could reach it. Little Hannah anxiously circled the huge tree and could no longer wait to open up her presents. Gideon and Adam had started the fireplace and got the cabin warm while, Milly and Alice were busy in the kitchen. Milly placed hot chocolates, puddings, gingerbread cookies, pumpkin pies and lots of other deserts on the table. She was quickly followed by Alice who put a roasted turkey in the middle with mashed potatoes.
"Adam, where are the boys?" Milly asked her husband gently and turned towards Hannah who wanted to grab a cookie.
"..and the girls?" Alice questioned as she walked over to Gideon, who stood beside a Christmas tree wearing his best shirt.
"They'll be here shortly." Adam answered and tried to steal one of the deserts, but Milly didn't let him.
"You're just as impatient as Hannah." She remarked with a laugh. Adam leaned down and kissed his little wife sweetly.
"You still love me, right?" He asked with a mischievous expression. Cute Hannah stood in the middle and couldn't contain her giggles. Adam quickly picked his daughter up and swung her around. Her strawberry blonde curles were already messed up from running about the house. She was a very energetic child, always looking for mischief and trouble. Even though Hannah was only five, she understood lot of things and Milly made sure that she was polite and obedient. Adam however was the opposite, he took his little girl on hunting trips with him, made her go wild and free, but he also knew his limits. If Hannah misbehaved, Adam would spank her without a doubt.
Milly smiled and glanced at Gideon and Alice who were standing under the mistletoe and kissing. Alice's stomach was round and looked ready to pop. Gideon could no longer wait to hold the newborn baby in his arms. He was so excited to be a father, maybe even more excited than Alice herself. After the shotgun weddings, the girls' parents and close friends helped them build new cabins around the whole Pontipee property. Daniel, Martha, Ruth, and Caleb shared one cabin. Benjamin, Dorcas, Ephraim, and Liza, shared another while, Frank insisted on having is own private place with Sarah. Gideon wanted to live with Adam and Milly, and so did Alice. So they were sharing their late parents' house. Both Adam and Gideon rebuild the rooms so that all four of them with their kids would fit freely.
On special occasions, such as: Christmases and Birthdays, they would invite each other to their homes and have wonderful celebrations.
This year, Milly, Adam, Gideon, and Alice were hosting the festival. So they had been planning everything, and getting ready all month. Few times, Adam and Gideon had failed to find a perfect tree. Some were too big, some too small. At last, they discovered something appropriate, and Milly and Alice decorated it happily.
Milly occasionally glanced at the window to see if any of her brothers-in-law were coming. Hannah couldn't wait to see her cousins any longer, she kept kissing Alice's round, pregnant belly.
In no time, there was a big knock on the door and Frank together with Sarah burst into the cabin.
"Merry Christmas! Ho-ho-ho!" Frank exclaimed as he handed presents to very excited Hannah and scooped her up in his arms.
"Frank! Sarah!" Four of them cried out happily. Gideon hugged his brother and Alice kissed Sarah's cheek that were red from the cold winter air.
"Welcome dears." Milly greeted her brother-in-law and sister-in-law.
"Uncle Frank, I missed you." Hannah mumbled as she tried to open up her present. Frank kissed the little girl and placed her down gently.
"I missed you more, you troublemaker."
"That's the perfect definition of Hannah." Adam said with a laugh as he shook his brother's arm.
"Make yourselves at home." Milly told Sarah and took her coat.
"So, I'm assuming we're the first to arrive." Frank told his brothers and walked over to the fireplace.
"Wow Alice, my nephew is ready to come out." Frank turned to Alice who was offering him hot chocolate.
"Yes, I can already tell how mischievous my baby is. Though I'm not sure if it will be nephew or niece." Alice answered and glanced at Gideon who was busy helping Hannah with opening her presents.
Milly took the empty plates out and placed them on the table, Sarah followed with forks and spoons.
"Oh Milly, I also brought chocolate covered muffins."
"That's wonderful! Place them here, Sarah." Answered Milly with a huge grin.
The door opened again, and Adam welcomed Caleb and Daniel together with Ruth and Martha. Ruth had two year old Keturah in her arms, while Martha's excited three year old Levi raced towards his favourite aunt Milly. Martha was holding her and Daniel's second born daughter called Mary. The baby was only three months old.
"Merry Christmas, dear boy!" Milly said and hugged Levi tightly. The little boy had his mother's hazel eyes and his farther's ginger curly hair.
"Dan, Caleb!" Gideon and Frank walked towards their brothers and greeted them. The women gathered in the kitchen when Ruth and Martha brought their apple and blueberry pies. Martha gave her infant to Sarah who was exited to see the baby, while Hannah and Levi started running around the house.
Heavily pregnant Ruth set next to Alice, and the two started chatting. Milly kept smiling as she looked around the cheerful house. Adam was sharing few drinks with his brothers, the women fussed around the place and kept sipping hot chocolate.
The door burst open once again, and the two wild four year old twins rushed into the house all excited. "Joseph, Josephine!" Cried Liza as she followed behind her children. "Behave yourselves!" After that, Ephraim, Benjamin, Dorcas, and Isaiah entered. Isaiah was only few months older than Joseph and Josephine. Although, he acted older and more mature than his cousins. After the weddings, Dorcas was the first girl to deliver her baby next Spring, Liza quickly followed her and had her twins in May. A year later was Martha, and then came Ruth. Finally, after five years, Gideon and Alice were also expecting their firstborn child. Ruth was pregnant for the second time, while Martha delivered her second born daughter Mary. The children had Bible names and were named alphabetically. Hannah, Isaiah, Joseph and Josephine, Keturah, Levi, and Mary. And soon enough, Alice and Ruth would have her babies. Ruth would become a mother for a second time. Milly was so happy that she kept smiling like a fool. Only thing that made her bit upset was Sarah...she and Frank were the only couple who did not have their own children yet. But Milly knew that everything has its time. Both Frank and Sarah seemed rather cheery and didn't show signs of sadness...maybe, they were really good in hiding their feelings.
"Oh Dorcas, Liza!" Milly exclaimed. "I'm so happy to see you!"
"So am I." Liza answered and then quickly rushed towards her mighty mischievous twins who were already getting themselves in trouble.
Milly embraced Dorcas and the women joined the rest of the girls towards the table.
The children started running around, opening up few presents that their parents allowed them to get before Christmas morning.
The room was filled with laughing men, cheerful children, and excited women.
Frank was standing next to Adam and Benjamin having drinks, when Sarah walked past him.
"Excue me." Frank turned to his brothers and followed after his wife.
"Sarah." Frank called her. She turned around to face him and blushed.
"How're you feeling?"
She nodded. "I'm alright. I've never been better."
Frank grinned in relief. "I can't wait to share the news with everybody."
"Neither can't I." She answered in a low tone and kissed her husband.
"Mama! mama!" Cried out Josephine who was nicknamed little Jo, and ran towards her mother who was busy helping the rest of the women in the kitchen parlour.
"What is it Josephine? How many times I asked you not to yell. You're a lady." Answered frustrated Liza.
"But..but Hannah stole my doll and Joseph didn't say anything." She mumbled.
At that moment Ephraim came and scooped his daughter up in his arms, that caused the little girl to forget her misery.
"How's my sunshine?" Ephraim asked and kissed his daughter's cheek.
Liza rolled her eyes and shook her head. "I'm busy, your father will help you get your doll back, right Ephraim?"
Ephraim smiled then whispered something in his daughter's ear, the girl's eyes widened and became brighter than ever and she quickly ran off towards the Christmas tree. Ephraim admired the fact that his daughter looked just like Liza. Same beautiful eyes, dark wavy hair, and soft full-lips.
"And that's how you deal with kids." Ephraim said proudly.
"I don't get it. They are nothing like me. I wasn't so mischievous at their age." Liza said shocked and kept fussing around in the kitchen.
"And I'm sure you weren't like that either." She added. "I guess they got it from their uncles: Frank and Adam."
Ephraim raised an eyebrow and then smiled with a mischievous expression. "And what makes you think that I wasn't like them as a child?"
Liza looked up at him puzzled. "You mean to tell me that our kids get this from you?"
Ephraim beamed and kissed his amazed wife lightly on the lips. After that, he winked at her and made his way towards the living-room. Liza stared at him in disbelief, she shook her head, and smiled. Later that night, her husband would have some explaining to do!
Ruth sat near the window and kept gazing outside. It was so beautiful. The snow was falling magically around the homestead. It was a glorious Christmas Eve. She placed a hand on her pregnant belly and sighed. She looked back at her two year old daughter Keturah, who was in Gideon's arms. Little Gideon seemed so excited to be a father, he kept having fun with the children. Keturah had Ruth's golden hair and Caleb gentle eyes. She smiled after her daughter and felt a hand on her shoulder. When Ruth turned around, she found herself staring at her dear husband's caring eyes.
"Are you cold, darling?" Caleb asked sweetly.
Ruth shook her head brightly and wrapped her arms around Caleb. "I'm so happy."
"It's Christmastime." Caleb told her and pecked her cheek lightly. "How can you not be happy and cheerful?"
Ruth smiled and kept looking at her daughter as Caleb stood close to her.
"You know Ruth, I want to thank you." Caleb said after awhile. Ruth blinked few times bit confused.
"Thank me? Why?"
"For choosing me as your husband after everything I did to you. For giving me such wonderful gifts. I always wanted to have a little girl, who would look like her ma. And now, you're carrying another precious soul." He bent down and touched his wife's round belly.
I love you, Ruth." Caleb continued and handed his wife a beautiful gold necklace.
"Oh Caleb, this is beautiful!" Ruth exclaimed happily.
"It belonged to my mother. Before she'd pass away, she told me to give this to the girl of my dreams. And I kept it ever since. I did want to give this to you earlier, but I feel like today is the perfect day for it."
Ruth's eyes became all watery and tears of joy started to roll down her cheeks. She threw herself in her husband's arms and kissed him passionately.
"Merry Christmas, Ruth." Caleb said after the two broke away.
"I love you so much." Ruth whispered happily. "Merry Christmas my love."
"Daniel, what's wrong with you? Are you smaller than Levi?" Martha asked when she saw her jolly husband lying in the piles of gifts as children circled him and even sat on him.
"Alright everyone, I'll let you open up more presents if auntie Martha here joins us." Daniel announced to the very excited children.
The kids cheered happily and Martha rolled her eyes annoyed. "No, Daniel. I have things to do."
"Please mommy, play with us." Levi asked and kept looking back at his father with a goofy expression.
"I have to help the girls set the table." Martha answered.
Daniel got up and pulled his wife towards him. "Dance with me, my dear."
"YES!" The children yelled happily.
"Daniel, stop it. Are you serious?" Martha said as she tried to shush the children around her.
"Isaiah, play the banjo. Hannah, you play the piano, and the twins and Levi can sing."
In few minutes, the children started playing Christmas carols. Joseph, Josephine, and Levi sang with excitement. While Hannah and Isaiah played the instruments.
"Come on, Martha!" Daniel exclaimed and spun his wife around.
"Oh Daniel, this is insane." Martha insisted still feeling very uncomfortable.
"It's Christmas! Time for merriment!" Daniel exclaimed and kept swirling her in his arms as the kids cheered.
"Don't be such a Scrooge, Martha." Daniel added jokingly.
Martha gasped and narrowed eyes at him. "I'll show you Scrooge!"
Martha started dancing around and even joined Hannah at the piano, she urged the children and they started dancing as well. They circled Martha happily and sang along with her, as she danced in the center. Daniel stood aside and looked at his wife with a smirk.
"Who's a Scrooge now?" Martha called him and kept giggling. Daniel quickly joined the fun and cheered happily.
"Oh Martha, I love you so much." He said and stopped her from spinning by kissing her. The children clapped and whistled at them.
"Gideon, are you practising to be a father?" Alice asked when she saw her husband holding baby Mary in his arms. Earlier he played with Caleb and Ruth's two year old daughter, now he decided to spend sometime with Martha and Daniel's newborn infant.
"Something like that, Alice." He said and kept rocking the baby gently in his arms. Alice kissed her husband's cheek and smiled at him.
"You're gonna be a wonderful father."
Gideon looked up at his beautiful woman with his bright blue eyes. "And you'll be one amazing mother."
Gideon was about to say something again, when Martha walked towards them. He hair was bit messy and she seemed quite tired.
"Here, I'll take Mary now. She needs to take a nap." She said, still out of breath. "Thank you for your help, Gideon."
"My pleasure." He said as Martha took her child towards the baby cradle.
"Anyway Alice, I want to give you something." Gideon said after Martha left. He quickly got up and handed his wife one of the presents that where under the Christmas tree.
"Oh Gideon, what is it?" Alice asked in awe.
"Open it up."
Alice unwrapped her gift all excited. She felt like a child again. When she saw what Gideon had given her, she gasped in amazement.
"Oh my goodness! Is this?-"
"Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol? Yes, yes it is." Gideon told her before she had time to say anything.
Alice pressed the book to her heart and squealed happily. Gideon knew that Alice loved reading more than anything in the world. She loved books and libraries. Ever since her father told her that her favorite English author Charles Dickens had published a Christmas novel in 1843. Every Christmas, Alice had asked her parents to grab a copy of that book for her. But since the novel wasn't really popular in America yet, her parents couldn't manage to buy it for her. However, Gideon did his best to find the book for her and one hot morning of July, he made his way to the eastern part of the country and found the novel in one library. After that, he had been waiting anxiously for the arrival of Christmas to give it to her.
"Merry Christmas, Alice." Gideon told her sweetly.
Alice pulled her husband towards her and covered him with kisses. "Oh thank you, thank you!"
Benjamin was leaning lazily against the wall, he had a drink in his right hand. He looked proudly at his son who was playing the banjo. He had been speaking with Adam all evening, now he was wondering what his beautiful family was up to. Soon enough, he noticed a tall, gorgeous figure walking close to him. He smiled when he noticed Dorcas approaching. She was wearing a dark red dress with lots of laces. The dress looked beautiful on her curvy figure.
Dorcas smiled at him and pulled the strand of mistletoe from one of the old boxes. She held a mistletoe over her head and Ben looked up at it.
"I don't need that to kiss my wife." Benjamin said softly and locked lips with her.
"It's a Christmas tradition." Dorcas smiled at him.
"You know that I'll kiss you without those things." Ben beamed at her.
Dorcas smiled with her cat like eyes and hugged him close.
"A little girl...next time." Benjamin whispered to her and kept gazing at his son. "One as beautiful as you." He turned to his lovely wife.
"Then we better get started." Dorcas replied, with a mischievous smile. "...Tonight." She added and went to aid Ruth in the kitchen.
At last when everyone gathered around the table to eat, Frank stood up proudly and decided to announce something.
"Attention, attention my loved ones. I'd like to add a joyful news to our merriment." He motioned to his wife and Sarah stood up shyly and kept smiling.
"You see, just three days ago, me and Sarah received a wonderful gift."
"Was the present from Mr. Kine?" Daniel asked with a cough.
"No, my papa has nothing to do with this." Sarah answered gently.
"Frank finally sold his crops to Mr Bixby?" Benjamin cut in.
"No, I know!" Dorcas exclaimed. "You're going on a vacation."
Sarah shook her head and Frank was about to say something, when Adam interrupted. "Don't tell me you're going too far away."
"Oh, I do hope you two stay with us till our kids are born." Caleb said sincerely and motioned to Gideonl, Alice, and Ruth. Soon enough, everyone started gossiping and speculating things. They forgot that both Frank and Sarah had something important to say and were waiting for them to stop bubbling.
"Stop it!" Frank cried out. "No one's going anywhere!"
This silenced everyone including the children who were playing around loudly and kept eating sweets.
"Sarah and I are-" Frank started
"Having a baby." Milly finished as tears of joy started to leak her eyes. At this, everyone rushed towards the couple and circled them excitingly. The brothers shook hands with Frank, who looked tall and proud, while the women hugged Sarah happily.
"About time Frankincense!" Benjamin exclaimed. Frank gave him the look. "Sorry, I mean Frank." He corrected himself.
"Congratulations dear!" Liza cried out happily and kissed Sarah.
Milly, who was still sitting at the table shocked and puzzled in a good way, looked at them in admiration and kept wiping away her tears.
"Look Milly..." Adam motioned towards the group of brothers, the girls, and their children as he neared her. "...You're dreams came true. We're a big happy family with dozens of kids, leaving close to each other, and visiting back and forth at Christmases and Birthdays."
Milly looked up at him and smiled brightly. She kissed him passionately and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Yes Adam, it came true."
"Merry Christmas." Adam answered and the two made their way towards the laughing and merry men, women, and children.
Adam picked his daughter up and as the cheerful chatter continued, Milly went up to hug her brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Adam started singing carols and soon everybody joined him.
The next morning, which would be Christmas Day, the Pontipee family were heading to town to visit the parents of the girls, and also to tell them the exciting news about Frank and Sarah. Yes, Milly's dreams came true...indeed.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I wanted to write something like this last year, but I was too concentrated with my first story June Bride. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this Christmas special one shot about the Pontipee family. Don't forget to review!