Title: The Last Christmas, The First Christmas
Christmas. This was the reason JD had been avoiding the rest of the seven lately. JD couldn’t bear being around them, with all of their holiday spirit. Buck had coerced all of them, except for JD, into decorating the whole town for Christmas. Even Chris was helping, something JD had found surprising at first. At first Chris hadn’t wanted to, but he quickly changed his mind. He suspected Vin had something to do with it. Or maybe all of them had, if you looked at as a whole.
But JD didn’t feel like decorating, or being around anyone who did. He didn’t want to hear Josiah and Nathan singing the Christmas carols, or see Buck playing jokes on the while they weren’t looking.
No, JD wasn’t in the mood for that. So when Josiah came to his room wondering if he would either help decorate the church or pick up the carols, JD chose the latter.
*Christmas, who needs it?* he thought to himself as he walked slowly to the church.
Of course, JD hadn’t always been so gloomy around Christmas. In fact, once upon a time it had been his favorite holiday. He didn’t love it for the gifts, he rarely got any. He loved it for what it had meant to him. To JD Dunne it had meant family.
Christmas was the only day JD’s mother was allowed off back in New York. The man they worked for was soft around the holiday season, everyone seemed to be. He always let all the servants have that day off, even let them have a little of the big family dinner.
JD and his mother had always spent the day looking for a small Christmas tree, which they would decorate later. Their was a small forest next to the mansion, and they were always given permission to pick out one small tree, usually only three or four feet tall.
They would always pick out one of the more pitiful looking trees, feeling sorry for it and wanting to make it beautiful. They decorated it with whatever they had lying around, a spare ribbon, paper stars and snowflakes they had made. Sometimes they put on things others would throw away, but things they cherished.
After decorating, JD and his mother would exchange gifts. The gifts were always small or home made things, anything they might be able to afford. No matter what they were, they were always straight from the heart.
Christmas last year, the last one JD and his mother would have together, was bittersweet. Both of them knew it would be her last, so they both tried to ignore the impending doom they both felt.
She had been sick off and on for a few years now, but that Christmas she became increasingly worse. JD remembered now how awful she had looked and sounded. Her eyes were rimmed with dark circles, her skin pale, and her voice raw from all the coughing.
They hadn’t gotten a tree that year. The winter was horrible that year, the worst JD had ever seen. It had been snowing nonstop for a few days, they ground was covered. JD was afraid she would become sicker, so he insisted they forget the tree.
Her mother, fearing he would be disappointed, insisted they decorate anyway. They had few ornaments that year, so they hung each one with special care.
JD remembered how happy his mother had been, knowing her son’s last Christmas with her would be happy one.
Her face had lit up when JD gave his gift to her. It wasn’t anything elaborate, JD had even less money than usual that year. He looked for days to find the right gift, and just when he was about to give up, he found it. He had been walking past the local store when a glint in the window caught his eye. It was a golden colored locket, nestled inside a red velvet bag. JD knew he would buy it the moment he saw it. It wasn’t real gold or anything, not even bronze or copper. But it had a shine to it, it was something special. He had placed two small pictures in it, one of him as a baby and one of his mother in it, taken before she became sick.
When she opened the box, she didn’t seem sick anymore. Her smile had lit up the room.
After hugging and kissing him, she handed him a beautifully wrapper, medium sized box. He remembered how he had looked quizzically at it, wondering what it could possibly be. He hadn’t asked for or expected anything that year, knowing how sick she was.
When he pulled out the small, brown felt, bowler hat, he thought his heart would burst from all the love he felt for his mother at the moment.
**“It’s a bowler hat,” his mother told him with pride, a smile lighting up her face, “Just like the one Bat Masterson wears. I know how much you admire him.”
JD hugged his mother then, the happiest he had ever been. Happy because he knew how much she loved him, just by this simple gift. “I love it,” he told her, vowing to cherish it forever, even after she left him.
“And I love you, JD,” she had whispered back, a single tear rolling down her face.**
A tear rolled down JD’s own face as he remembered his last Christmas with his mother. That was the last time he would ever see her truly happy and without pain. A few days after the new year she had passed away, leaving a grieving young son with nowhere to go.
It was then that JD had packed up and left New York, hoping to start anew in a little town called Four Corners.
So here JD was, his first Christmas without his mother. His first Christmas without family.
JD still cherished the bowler hat his mother had given him. And even though Buck teased him about it, JD suspected that Buck knew there was a deeper attachment.
It didn’t even feel like Christmas to him. There wasn’t any snow here, which JD had always felt necessary for Christmas. Plus, Four Corners just didn’t have all that excess as New York did. JD was glad it didn’t feel like Christmas to him, it fit in to how he was feeling.
The others seemed to be in a real Christmas mood, though. So JD had been avoiding them all week. He felt he would be dishonoring his mother’s memory by having another happy Christmas.
He knew the others understood a little, each having lost someone of their own once.
JD just wasn’t ready to have a wonderful Christmas yet, it just didn’t feel right. Maybe he never would be.
JD continued to walk morosely to the church. He didn’t want to go there, but Josiah would be disappointed if he didn’t deliver the carols. It wasn’t fair of JD to make everyone’s Christmas miserable even though his was.
As JD passed a store window, a flash of light caught his eye. At first he thought he was seeing things, but then it came clear that he wasn’t.
In the display window he could see a small, gold colored locket, one that looked suspiciously like the one he had given his mother that last Christmas.
As if in a daze, he pounded on the door.
The door quickly swung open, revealing an angry and half asleep owner. “What the hell?” exclaimed Bill Janson, who was the owner.
“I’m sorry to wake you up, Mr. Janson,” JD began nervously, shifting his feet, “but I was wondering if I could buy that locket, the one in your window?”
Janson frowned, his anger from a few minutes ago wearing off, “Locket? What locket?”
“The one in your window! The only one in your store!”
“I don’t think there’s a locket...,” Janson trailed off. He liked the kid, but right now he wasn’t making any sense.
JD pointed to the window, “I just saw it, from the street. Could you please look?”
Janson sighed, “All right, I’ll look. Wait here,” he ordered as he slammed the door shut.
JD stared at the door in surprise. Why didn’t Janson just let him in?
The door swung open, “Is this what you mean?” Janson asked in confusion, the locket chain dangling from his hand. “I have no idea where it came from......”
“Yes! That’s it!” JD exclaimed excitedly. “How much do you want for it?”
Janson inspected the locket carefully, “Well, considering I have no idea where it came from, I’ll let you have it for free. Consider it a Christmas present,” Janson said, handing JD the locket.
“Thank you so much, Mr. Janson. You have no idea how much this means to me.”
“There’s one more thing,” Janson began, a thought coming to his head at how the locket might have gotten into his store, “if the locket turns out to be stolen, you didn’t get it from me, understand?” He waited until JD nodded before saying, “Now get lost, and don’t wake me up again.” The door slammed shut for the last time.
JD grasped the locket in his hand, afraid to open it. It probably wasn’t the same locket. There was no way it could be.
His hands shook as he opened it. When he saw what was inside, he gasped.
It was the same locket.
Inside where the two pictures JD had placed in there last year. One of his mother, and one of him.
It was impossible he knew, but there it was.
A miracle. An honest to God miracle. That’s what it was.
JD’s eyes widened as a small snow flake floated onto his jacket.
JD quickly glanced around. This had to be some sort of joke. Fake snow or something.
But it couldn’t be. No one knew of the locket, and if they had, there was no way they could’ve gotten ahold of it. It was buried with his mother.
A tear trickled down JD’s cheek. He was overcome with sadness as he realized what this was.
It was permission to celebrate Christmas with his family. For that’s what JD considered the rest of the seven on any other day, family. JD didn’t want to think of them as family around Christmas, though. He thought it was wrong.
JD now realized it was okay to think of them as family, on any day. It wasn’t betraying his mother’s memory. She would’ve wanted this. She would’ve wanted JD to be happy. She would approve of his new family, he was sure. She would’ve loved them just as much as he does. She would be glad to know he was spending Christmas with them.
What was he doing? Standing outside while it snowed? He should be decorating the tree right now. He should be with his family.
With a new found resolve, JD began to run to the church, Josiah’s box held tightly in his arm, the locket clutched tightly in his hand.
JD burst through the church door, snow falling from his clothes and hair.
“Something wrong, JD?” Was the first thing he heard, coming from Buck, of course.
JD realized that everyone was staring at him.
Nathan and Josiah, who were hanging garland onto the Christmas tree, which was placed in the center of the church.
Chris on the ladder, with Vin below, handing bows to him.
Ezra, who was now placing the star on the tree.
And of course, Buck. JD tried to stifle a laugh as he saw how tangled up Buck was from the ornaments.
JD cleared his throat, “Everything’s fine, Buck. I just figured Josiah would want these books right away.”
Satisfied, everyone but Buck turned away.
“You sure you’re all right, kid?” he asked, still concerned. JD had been acting strange all week.
“I’m sure, Buck.”
Buck still looked spectical, but he turned to finish what he was doing.
Buck turned back around, “Yeah, kid?”
“Need some help?” JD asked, gesturing to the tangled ornaments.
Buck smiled, he was pretty tangled up. “I’d like that alot, JD.”
JD smiled back, his first real smile in days, “I would, too, Buck. I would, too.”
“Okay then. Say,” Buck began, pointing to JD’s still clenched fist, “What do you got there?”
JD looked down, a wistful smile forming on his face, “Just something that made me remember what Christmas was all about.”