Scenes of the Season - Scene 4

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Holiday, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - December 9, 2013
Spoilers:  None
Size:  24kb, ficlet
Written:  November 28-30, 2017
Summary:  Today's holiday scene is Seasons Greetings.  Can it really be that simple?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) Though part of a series, each scene stands completely on its own.

Scenes of the Season - Scene 4
by Orrymain

====
--Seasons Greetings
====

As the brood entered the large recreation room, they saw their parents at the long table where they usually ate dinner and often did their studies.  They wondered if they were going to have class, even though nothing was scheduled.  In fact, their parents already gave them a special gift, no homeschooling at all in the month of December.  That was a first, to not have a single class of anything for an entire month.  Even though the Jackson-O'Neill children loved learning, they hoped there wasn't a change in plans.

“Take a seat on the sofa or ottomans,” Jack called out as he and Daniel continued working on something unknown to the children.

“I think that's it, Jack.”

After doing a final check, the general nodded, after which the couple went to the center of the room and faced the brood.

“Are you ready to write?” Daniel asked.

“Ah, Daddy, you said we didn't have to study this month.  It was a present,” Jonny whined.

With a chuckle, Daniel affirmed, “That's correct.  This isn't homework, this is Christmas.”

“Christmas?” Lulu asked as she glanced back at the table that had multiple stacks of something unknown to her on it.

 “Yep,” Jack responded brightly.  “Remember when we went card shopping?”

“And when we spent a day making cards for that personal touch?” Daniel added.

“We get to do our cards today, huh?” Chenoa surmised.

“We've stacked up the cards each of you asked for at the store plus the ones you made here at home.  Find your stack ...”

Quickly chiming in and interrupting his husband, Daniel pointed out, “And your names are on the pile.”

“Just in case you forgot which cards you wanted,” Jack explained, remembering how some of the kids argued a bit over who would get to use which holiday greeting.

“You don't have to stay at the table,” Daniel advised.  “You can do your cards anywhere you want.”

“Later, we'll bring out the family cards and any of you who want to add a note to those can.”  Jack smiled and then playfully ordered, “Scoot!”

Jennifer walked over to the stereo system and turned it on.  It seemed appropriate to have holiday music on as the cards were written.  The family loved the music of the season.

Once the kids found their pile, they scattered, but not necessarily individually.  Jonny and Little Danny found a unique spot, under the game table in the rec room.  They were on their abdomens as they wrote their cards.  Jennifer opted to take her cards to her bedroom over the garage, while Ricky sat on the living room sofa as he wrote his notes.  Several of the others remained at the table to do their cards.  Jenny went into the game room and sat beneath the huge dinosaur she'd named Muffin.  Once afraid of the life-like creation, sitting under him was now one of her best safe places.  No matter where they were, the twelve kids were busy with their cards, including JD, who was getting a lot of help from Jack and Daniel upstairs in the nursery.

This year, for the first time, the children were given twenty-five store-bought greeting cards to add to however many homemade cards they'd created at home.  They could use as many or as few of those cards as they wanted and their parents would cover the postage cost.  One of the main reasons for the new tradition was that the Jackson-O'Neills had friends around the globe, thanks to their travels to places such as Egypt and Mexico.  Their travel within the United States was also extensive, especially after their road trip in their RV in 2012.  The kids wanted to wish their many friends a Merry Christmas that was more than an email, and Jack and Daniel agreed.

====

“Okay, kids, time to add your seasons greetings on the family cards,” Jack announced sometime later.

Within seconds, Daniel bounded down the stairs and joined his husband in the rec room where the children were assembling.

“JD's asleep,” the archaeologist announced.

“Writing's hard work when you're almost two,” Jack teased in reply.

Daniel began placing the family cards in piles on the large table.  He tried to use logical categories in the form of countries and states visited, extended family, SGC personnel, neighbors, and miscellaneous that included people met at children's shelters, nursing homes, and other similar places the family went together.

The cards were not in their envelopes, but were slid under the seal flaps.  They were addressed, but not yet stamped and did not have the return address label affixed to them, either.  However, both the stamps and the labels were on the table in anticipation of the family working on the project after the cards were completely signed and sealed.  A postal scale was nearby to assist in weighing what Jack and Daniel assumed would be several cards that would be heavier and over the standard postage rate.

“Remember, if you have a lot to say, do it on one of the holiday note papers,” Jack instructed as he held up a piece of stationary with Christmas pictures on it.  “If you just want to add your name or add a personal but short note, you can write it on the card.  Just remember, there are fourteen of us.  Don't be card hogs.”

With some laughter, the children eagerly went to the table and began their quest of passing on more holiday good wishes.

Meanwhile, Jack and Daniel went upstairs to take advantage of the quiet and make more seasonal plans.  They still needed to figure out what gifts to give the brood and what Santa might bring them as well.  With both Jennifer and Jeff downstairs to watch over the children, they figured they had a good hour in which to make some decisions.

The problem with the parents' plan was that they didn't actually tell the two oldest brood members to watch over the younger ones or to keep things organized.  Soon, Jennifer and Jeff were done with the family cards.  Both still had a few personal cards to complete so they both went to their rooms to finish them.  Brianna was still writing in family cards when she decided she wanted to include a photo that featured her and her favorite dolphin in some of them, so she went to her room to get select an appropriate photo and print out the number of copies she needed.  As for David, he was totally engrossed in the cards and simply wasn't paying attention to anyone else.

“This is such a pretty card,” Aislinn observed as she took in the wintry scene with kids playing in the snow.  “Look at this one, Jenny.”

Jenny took hold of the card, nodding her agreement and adding, “Look at this one with the reindeer.”

“Let me see, Jenny,” Ricky requested.

The redhead slid the card across the table to her brother.

“Anyone want to sign the card to Aunt Catherine?” Chenoa asked.

“Me!” Aislinn called out excitedly, adding the card to her stack still to do.

The brood was actively shuffling cards back and forth and writing their thoughts.  They were having great fun.  Some tired of writing at the table and moved to other locations within the rec room.

“Woof!” Bijou called out.

“Oh, yeah.  Be back,” Little Danny responded.  He hurried upstairs and returned with an ink pad.  “You want to sign the card for Mrs. Valissi?”

“Wooooof!” both Bijou and Katie answered with tails wagging.

“Okay, give me your paw, Bij.”

Lulu giggled at the sight of the mama beagle allowing her paw to be placed against the ink pad and then pushed down against the card.

“Hafta keep pressure on for a minute,” Little Danny told the canine.  When he released her paw, the Munchkin held up the card and showed it to Bijou.  “See!  Now you've signed it.”

The beagle let out a happy arf of sorts and watched as Katie also signed the card.

“I'd better write your names.  Mrs. Valissi might not know which paw is whose.”

For the next several minutes, Little Danny repeated the procedure with both dogs on several of the cards until the most important humans to the beagles had pawed cards.  Then the boy returned to his own writings and the beagles walked off, tiny black paw prints leaving their marks behind them for a few steps.

Ricky was the first of the brood to finish all of his card writing.  Wanting to stay busy and contribute, he saw the stamps and address labels and decided to help out with those.

~Dad and Daddy will be proud of me for taking the 'nit'tive,~ the six-year-old Spitfire thought.

Soon, Jenny and the Munchkins were helping out with the stamping process and before long, Chenoa and Lulu were also applying postage and stickers.  While the children worked to make their parents proud, they began talking about their upcoming trip to see Santa Claus.  They were all smiles as they thought about Christmas.  The brood definitely loved the holidays and quickly found themselves wrapped up in the excitement of it all.  The stamps and labels were going on the envelopes by rote.  It was lift the postage off the sheet, stick it on the envelope, lift the label off the address sheet, and apply it to the envelope: an easy rotation mixed in with laughter and anticipatory words of visiting with Mister Claus.

The work was fun as the clock moved onward with the passing of seconds and minutes.  Eventually, as the number of envelopes lessened, a few of the children separated from the others to either write more personal cards or simply do other things.
  
====

A while later, Brianna returned to the rec room and began to look for the cards she wanted to put the photos in.

“Hey, David, where are the extended family cards?”

David looked around and responded, “They were by Ricky, but Ricky's at the game table now.  Maybe he took them with him.”

Acknowledging the reply, the tomboy walked to the game table that was near the head of the room and asked, “Ricky, do you have the extended family cards?”

The boy shrugged and pointed out, “I love the train on the this card.  It's all lit up and there's Santa!”

Brianna nodded and looked around in confusion.  About that time, Jeff returned, bringing all of his personal cards with him.  As he placed his cards on the table, he noticed Brianna approach.

“Jeff, I have a really funny feeling.”

“Why?”

“I can't find the extended family cards,” Brianna responded.

“Well, here's the one for Uncle Lou and Aunt Carolyn,” Jeff said as he reached for the card.

“Didn't Daddy put all the stamps here when he put the cards on the table?”

“Yes, he did,” Jennifer affirmed as she entered with her completed cards in her hands.  “He put the address labels there, too, right here ...” the young woman paused as she ran her hands along the table where the items were when she left the room earlier “... next to the scale.”

“We've got a problem, Jen.”

“There's part of it,” Jeff observed, motioning with his right hand to where Aislinn and Jenny now sat, the lone two left working on the last few envelopes.

“Oh, boy,” Jennifer sighed.  “Guys, I see lots of envelopes, but no cards.”

“Dad and Daddy are going to murder us,” Brianna groaned.

“David, what happened?” Jennifer called out to her fellow Mouseketeer.

“What?”

“Haven't you been paying attention?” the long-haired brunette challenged having realized the full scope of what had gone wrong.  “Oh Fudge!”

“Okay, kids.  We have great news,” Jack called out as he and Daniel entered the rec room.

Jack was also carrying JD, who he put down in front of Jenny, which she knew meant she had responsibility for ensuring the toddler didn't walk off or get into anything he shouldn't.

“We're going to put the finishing touches on the cards, mail them, and go to Acacia Park and go ice skating,” Daniel advised, receiving some happy cheers in return.

Jack and Daniel looked around and began to notice things didn't look right.  It was the lack of stacked card piles and expressions of misgivings from their older children that grabbed their attention at first.

“Jack.”

“Oh, yeah, there's trouble in River City.”

“Dad, Daddy, you'll be so proud of us,” Ricky piped up, not aware of any wrongdoing.  “Look!”

The boy's expression was one of pure joy.  He was so happy with his accomplishment.

“We all helped,” Aislinn added.  “And now we get to go ice skating,” she noted, her shoulders raising in tiny, eager motions.

Daniel walked over to the table where he saw the envelopes, all stamped and labeled.

“Jack.”

The general joined his Love and observed the envelope Daniel was holding.  The stamp and address label were affixed and in place.  It was a job well done, except that the stamp and label were upside down.  As the parents leafed through more envelopes, they noted others had the same issue and while some were done correctly, there were many that had the postage and labels on the bottom of the envelopes instead of the tops.  Worse, a few stamps and address stickers were actually affixed to the rear, over the pointed flaps.

“Babe, you know what the worst of this is?”

With a nod, Jack asked in a low voice, “Where are the cards?”  After a beat, he turned to face the brood and inquired, “Kids, where are the cards?”

“Here, Dad,” Jonny stated proudly while pointing at the stacks of cards that were on the sofa, unintentionally hidden from the parents by a large cushion.  “We kept them really neat.”

The lovers walked over to the cards and picked them up.  They went through several, noting words of love and thanks to the recipient, whoever that may be.  The two men looked at each other and then they took another slow look at the children.

“Dad, Daddy, we're sor...” Jennifer began.

“Shhh!” Jack interrupted.  He was consumed with gladness over the well-intentioned action of his children, and he knew his soulmate felt the exact same way.  After all, neither of them told the children how to proceed or that they should keep the cards with the envelopes.  They failed to give adequate instruction, so they shared in the blame for the disaster.  That said, with Jack, there was always a Plan B.  “Okay, kids, we're going to play a little game.”

Daniel grinned and knew what his lover had in mind.  They needed to match the cards to the envelopes.  Some of it might be easy, but others could take some doing.

“What game?” Little Danny asked.

“It's called ...”

“The Matching Game,” Daniel interjected.  “We have to take these envelopes that you beautifully prepared and match each one of them with a card.”

Standing close to his parents, Little Danny suddenly, but quietly, gasped, “Ut oh.  We did an oops.”

“Hey,” Jack spoke with equal quiet.  “We couldn't play the game if you guys didn't organize the cards and envelopes like this.  Now we get to play, and I love to play.”

The child genius knew the brood messed up.  He didn't know how he missed it, except that he was having fun with his siblings and was distracted because of Santa Claus.  He sensed that his parents were covering up for their mistake by making a game out of matching the cards and envelopes.  He smiled.  He knew he had the best parents in all the universe and silently, he decided not to say anything to the others unless they asked first.

Of course, it wasn't long until Jonny whispered, “Little Danny, we shoulda kept the cards with the envelopes, huh?”

“Mmm-mmm,” the boy affirmed.

“Next year, we'll do it right.”

“We will,” Little Danny agreed.

Just then, Jack scooped up the brothers, holding one in each arm, which wasn't as easy as it used to be with the seven-year-olds.  He gave each a kiss on the cheek and smiled.

“You did it right this year because you did it with love and in this family, it's the love that counts the most.”

The brothers both chuckled from the slight amount of roughhousing their dad did as he put them down.

“Gather round,” Daniel called out as the game was about to begin.

====

“Who said to who, 'Thanks for not telling Dad I caused the leak?'” Daniel inquired.

“Me,” Jenny sighed.  “I was trying to help Uncle Pete when he was changing the oil in his car.”

~Note to self: talk to Pete about covering up for my kids,~ Jack thought as he found the Shanahan envelope and handed it to Jennifer, who was in charge of placing cards inside the proper envelopes once matched.

From there, Jennifer handed the cards to Brianna, who weighed them and used her computer tablet to make sure the right amount of postage was used.  If more postage was needed, she handed the additional stamps with the cards to David, who was the decision maker on whether or not replacement envelopes should be used.  This was primarily for cards where the stamps were placed on the back side instead of the front.  After all, they only had a limited number of spare envelopes so some of the cards had to go as they were.  David also applied the additional postage stamps, if needed, to cards ready to be sealed.

If a new envelope was required, David gave the card to Lulu, who would copy the name and address of the recipient onto a new envelope that would fit the size of the card.  After that, cards went to Chenoa for new stamps and address labels.  If David opted to use the already prepared envelopes, he handed those cards to Jeff, who used a sponge moistener to seal the envelopes.  He also sealed cards once Chenoa was done with them.

“Uh, Jack,” Daniel called out, holding up a card so that his lover could see it.

“That explains it,” Jack replied, glancing down at the previously made and as yet unexplained black spots on the floor.  ~I guess the girls had cards to sign, too.~

The archaeologist nodded before continuing the game.  Nothing was ever said to the children about the beagles signing the cards via the usage of a black ink pad, nor did they make a fuss about the black marks.  They knew it would be easy to wipe up the accidental paw prints, not to mention the dogs' actual paws, later when the children were asleep.

It took a while, but finally the cards were in bags and ready to be mailed at the post office.  With that, the family prepared for a late afternoon trip to the ice rink. It was extremely cold out and even snowed in the morning, so everyone had to wear coats, mittens, and wool beanies to stay warm.

As the parents and older siblings helped the younger children on with their outerwear, Ricky looked up at his daddy with big eyes and an even bigger smiled and asked, “Daddy, did we make you and Dad proud with our 'nit'tive?”

“You sure did.  We couldn't be prouder.  Thank you so much for showing such wonderful *initiative*,” Daniel answered, stressing the last word without saying anything more to help the Spitfire understand better the word he was trying to say.

“I'm glad.”

“Me, too.”

“The game was fun.”

“It was, and we never could have played it without you and your initiative,” the smiling archaeologist assured.

Ricky was still grinning when Jenny tapped on his arm and told him to hurry.  Daniel watched the twins head for the front door and saw his soulmate looking at them, too.  Then Jack faced Daniel and the two let their smiles grow even more.  So far, the day wasn't going as planned, but it was spontaneous and full of love, which was what mattered the most to them.

By nightfall, the Jackson-O'Neills were headed home after mailing their Christmas cards and spending a couple of hours ice skating.  The big debate was whether to go through the McDonald's drive-through for burgers or stop for a wild time at Chuck E. Cheese, a pizza place they really didn't go to very often.  Pizza won out and the younger kids were thrilled by the choice.  The older ones had to grin and bear it, and the parents simply enjoyed the time with their brood.  Life was just about perfect as this scene from the season came to a close, filling the family with love and joy, and lots of cheese and cheesy jokes, too.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~

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