“N&S: Nurturing Love, Ch. 70-73: Christmas Joy, 5/04/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #177)
Author’s Story Recap from the previous posting: Though Mrs. Hale passed away in September, Margaret was able to share her baby news with her. Then Margaret and John shared their baby joy with their family on their seventh month wedding anniversary last week on December 18th. So, now they look forward to the Christmas holidays that they will share with their extended family and their mill workers.
Author’s Mature Content Note: This is a love story and it contains some romantic interludes which I have labeled as such. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the rating that I provide, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer.
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 70: Wednesday, December 23rd at the Afternoon Marlborough Mills Christmas Party
It has been a busy morning for the mill workers, finishing up loose ends so that they can all have an afternoon Mill Christmas Party on Wednesday, December 23rd before their long weekend holiday break. Margaret and some of the teachers and parents have worked with the school children the last few weeks to have the children put on a Christmas pageant that includes singing some carols. Margaret makes sure that every child has a line to say—or grunt in case of the sheep or other animals–so that no child feels left out. And every child has some type of costuming that they made together in art class the last few weeks—be it a shepherder’s paper hat, or a star hat, floppy paper sheep ears, cow hide pattern ears, wise men crowns, or angel halos, etc. The children are looking forward to the Christmas Pageant and so is Margaret. Her motherly instincts have really come to the forefront with her work with the Mill children and now with her being pregnant with her and John’s first child.
For his part this day, John has worked closely with his office staff and his Mill Overseer to make sure that each employee receives their weekly pay before the holiday break—as well as their Christmas bonus of one extra day’s pay for each year they have worked at the mill. John greets each worker as they stop by the pay window before going on to the Christmas party. When all the workers have been seen and paid, John closes the office and locks the safe–that now contains only a small amount of cash since the payroll has been disbursed–and he heads over to the Bell Grammar School of Marlborough Mill’s school building for the Mill’s Christmas Party. When he walks inside, John is delighted to see the touching home made Christmas decorations that the Mill children have made—colorful paper chains, snowflakes, etc. The children are eagerly showing their parents their school desks—and since there are two school sessions, morning and afternoon, two children share each desk.
John and Margaret stand at the beginning of the buffet line that has small sandwiches, cakes, cookies and punch to greet the children, Mill workers, parents, teachers and guests as they file past. Margaret is really starting to show her pregnancy—especially since she is now wearing dresses that are full in the front to allow for her expanding tummy. So, the Mill workers who might have only suspected John and Margaret’s baby joy, now learn for themselves that John and Margaret will have a child in the late Spring. Everyone is pleased for John and Margaret and appreciative of the Christmas party, the holiday time off with pay, and the bonuses they received. Once everyone has gone through the food line, everyone including–John and Margaret–take their seats to watch the children’s Christmas Pageant.
The Christmas Pageant has the usual plot points of Joseph and Mary having to sleep in a stable, the wise men looking for them and the baby Jesus, and the star leading the wise men and the shepherds to them—with angels hovering about. Some of the older children serve as narrators. With each group of children joining the tableau—until all children are upfront, many of whom are sheep or angels—with one verse of a Christmas carol describing each part of the story being sung by the children. There is an especially touching moment when one of the two year old toddlers that Margaret takes care of during the week in the Mill’s Mother’s Nursery, decides that she has had enough of being a Christmas Pageant angel cherub and the little girl walks over to Margaret and raises her hands up to Margaret wanting to be held. Margaret smiles and lovingly places the little girl on her lap, cuddling and rocking her throughout the rest of the Christmas Pageant as the child’s mill worker parents nod their thanks. John beams at Margaret’s loving and caring motherly instincts and he pats the child’s blond curly head. Then, everyone—children, mill workers and parents, teachers, guests, and John and Margaret–sings Silent Night together before the Mill Christmas Party ends around 4:00pm. John and Margaret once again take their place at the door and warmly wish everyone a Happy Christmas—as they are also wished.
[Readers, here is a hauntingly beautiful version of Silent Night sung in Irish by Enya (2) video by Matoga below)]:
To be continued with Chapter 71
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 71: John’s and Margaret’s Christmas Eve
With having December 24th off from work, John takes Margaret into the village in their carriage for their last minute Christmas shopping for their families. Fanny and Watson will receive a small silver candy dish—with some candy to put in it for Watson’s sweet tooth. Mother Thornton will receive a crystal bowl large enough to serve fruit in. For Mr. Hale, John and Margaret have chosen a beautifully bound three volume set of writings of Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. John has been wavering on what to give Margaret for their first Christmas as husband and wife—either a pearl necklace or pearl earrings. And, since Margaret’s 21st birthday is right around the corner, he gets both—the necklace to be given to her for Christmas and the matching earrings to be given to her on her birthday in January. John is very pleased with himself on his choices and he hopes that Margaret will be, too. Margaret doesn’t wear much jewelry, but what she does wear is of fine quality. Margaret has bought John a new gold watch fob chain that will better keep John’s much loved pocket watch–that had been his late father’s–attached to his vest pocket securely. Margaret smiles to herself because she also has another surprise for John, but that will have to wait until Christmas morning. They return home, pleased with their purchases—and the gifts they picked up from having purchased them earlier—and return home to wrap them and then have a quiet evening of dinner alone and then to bed.
It has been a long day of Christmas preparations and shopping before they return home for their 5:00pm dinner and then an early bed time. John and Margaret have found that as her pregnancy goes along, she needs to get to sleep earlier because she tires more easily now. And since they want to make sure to leave some time for romance, they get themselves to bed earlier—and tonight is no exception. John and Margaret eat a light supper of soup, a sandwich, and fruit before retiring to their bedroom. They decide to give each other their presents tonight when they are alone, rather than in front of their family at Mother Thornton’s tomorrow morning where they are invited for Christmas brunch at 10:00am. But first, John and Margaret want to change into their nightclothes.
John: “Margaret Darling, we’ve had a long day. How are you feeling tonight?” Margaret is sitting on the edge of the bed as John kneels next to her removing her shoes and hose for her.
Margaret: Running her fingers through John’s hair and then caressing his face she says coyly. I’m a little tired…. But not that tired.”
John, still kneeling, leans over to Margaret and wraps his arms around her as he kisses her passionately. Margaret welcomes and returns John’s loving kisses. Then, they embrace and hold each other for several moments with John’s head gently laying just above her tummy where their baby sleeps and with his arms around her. Then, they both feel the baby move—but on different sides of her tummy at the same time.
John: Leaning back to look first at Margaret’s tummy and then at her face, he asks her quizzically. “Margaret Darling, can our baby big enough already to be felt on both sides of your tummy?”
Margaret: She smiles a knowing smile and says. “Well, no, … the doctor said…”
John: “Doctor? Are you alright my darling?” He looks at her with grave concern.
Margaret: “John Dearest, everything is fine.” She says caressing his face. “What I was going to say is that the doctor said that …” She smiles knowing that she is about to reveal her wonderful surprise to John. “… each baby moving will be felt separately.” Margaret raises her eyebrows and smiles waiting for John’s response. And then she realizes that John still doesn’t understand what she is saying.
John: Asking quizzically, still not understanding. “Each baby?”
Margaret: Then taking both of John’s hands, Margaret smiles as she places each of his hands on opposite sides of her tummy saying. “Yes, John Dearest. This baby … and this baby.”
John: John’s eyes widen in wonder, in delight, and in total astonishment. “Margaret Darling… do you mean we’re having twins?”
Margaret: Now Margaret is smiling so broadly that John knows he has guessed the truth. “Yes, my love. We’re having twins!”
John showers Margaret with kisses that she eagerly returns as they kiss and caress each other for several minutes. And then after looking at each other tenderly, they kiss and caress each other for several minutes more after that.
John: Standing up from his kneeling position and then sitting down on the bed next to Margaret, John puts his left arm around Margaret and with his right hand lifts her right hand to his lips for a kiss. “But Margaret my love, how does the doctor know that we are having twins?”
Margaret: “You mean apart from the separate movements?” She reminds him lovingly and with a smile. “The doctor said that he could hear two heartbeats—with that listening tube he uses.”
John: “Oh.” He nods his head in acknowledgement. Then becoming concerned for her health he says. “But how are you feeling? Do you need to be more careful about your activities and rest more? Maybe not caring for the Mill children so much?”
Margaret: “Yes, that is what the doctor recommended.” She says a little crestfallen. “I will miss them terribly.”
John: “I know Margaret Darling. And they will miss you. But in only a few months time, you will have our own babies to look after.” Babies, John is still happily reeling from that notion.
Margaret: “The doctor wants me to stay in our home as much as possible the next couple of months, resting, and not using the stairs more than once a day—and then, only when someone is with me to make sure that I don’t fall.”
John: “Well, I’m sure that Mother and Fanny and your Father will visit you so that you won’t feel lonely. And maybe we can even bring the Mill school children little ones over for a visit once in a while in our small sitting room if you feel up to it. Hmmm?”
Margaret: She nods her head and smiles sleepily at him. “John Dearest, may we change into our nightclothes before we exchange our presents. I’m starting to get a little sleepy and I want to be sure that we make time for …” She smiles, her voice trails off as she thinks of their lovemaking.
John: Now really worried for Margaret’s health with twins he asks. “Oh, Margaret Darling, I want nothing more than to make love with you to celebrate our joyous baby news.” He kisses her tenderly as he caresses her face in his hands. “But, … do we have to be extra careful since you are carrying twins?” John so wants to make love with his lovely Margaret, but he doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize this pregnancy.
Margaret: “I did ask the doctor about that John Dearest.” Margaret says blushing at the thought that she had actually broached the subject of she and John continuing to make love during her pregnancy with the doctor.”
John: “And?” He says expectantly and hopefully.
Margaret: “Well John Dearest, the doctor said that as long as I don’t get too tired, wasn’t in pain, and if we were … gentle, that it should be alright.” Margaret caresses John’s face and then runs her fingers through his hair as she kisses him affectionately. John lovingly kisses Margaret back. “So, will you help me change out of my clothes so I can put on my nightgown?” She smiles expectantly.
John: Smiling amorously he says. “Of course, Margaret my love.”
They both stand and walk into her dressing room.
To be continued with Chapter 72
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 72: John and Margaret changing into their Nightclothes on Christmas Eve (R rating)
Once in Margaret’s dressing room, John familiarly sits on the cushioned stool and Margaret backs up to him. John deftly unbuttons the back of her dress bodice that she then hangs up. Then he unbuttons her skirt and its full petticoat—helping her to step out of them so that she doesn’t trip over them—before she hangs them up. Margaret is not wearing a corset because her tummy is expanding, but she is wearing a support for her full bosom that he unties for her at the back and she removes this—as well as her soft under petticoat. Now Margaret turns and is standing in front of John only in her thin gauzy under blouse and her under pants. John pulls her close to him in a loving embrace as he buries his head in her round and even more full breasts—which are also growing along with her little tummy. Margaret kisses the top of John’s head and runs her fingers through his hair. John looks up lovingly at her.
Margaret looks down lovingly at John and she slowly unbuttons John’s shirt—he had earlier removed his vest and cravat and folded up his shirt sleeves. Then she helps him lift his shirt over his head and she sets in on a chair. John stands, he is now bare chested in front of Margaret and she delights in her husband’s muscular and manly form. Margaret leans in and kisses John’s chest and she puts her arms around him bringing them up to caress his back and shoulders. John leans down and kisses Margaret lovingly on her lips as he slightly dips her. Then John lifts Margaret to stand upright again and she unbuttons her husband’s trousers and he removes them. Then John removes his underpants and he is handsomely naked before Margaret. All that remains is to remove Margaret’s underpants and her thin gauzy under blouse—and John helps her do so. John gazes with love upon her lovely nakedness and her growing tummy. Then John lifts Margaret up into his arms and carries her into their bedroom. They had forgotten to put on their night clothes. But, then, they do not need them anyway.
John carries Margaret to their bed and he gently and lovingly places her naked body on the bed sheets and covers her with the top sheet and blanket. Then he walks to his side of the bed and slides to her between the sheets–also naked. They turn toward each other and kiss and caress each other tenderly. John kisses Margaret’s lips, and neck and breasts as he caresses her breasts, her tummy where their babies sleep and grow. Margaret is lost within the joy of the beautiful, loving, pleasures that John gives her and she kisses his forehead and caresses his strong shoulders and muscular chest. John’s tongue lovingly lingers over her full round breasts as he more urgently caresses her. And John knows from Margaret’s loving responses that she is close to feeling ‘pure joy’ as she phrased it on their wedding night. John’s ardor for Margaret is unbridled with their lovely baby news tonight. But, he knows that he must restrain himself so as not to jostle Margaret and their babies in their lovemaking. So, John continues his lovemaking caresses to give Margaret pleasure until she trembles with the raptures of feeling ‘pure joy’. She breathes deeply for a few moments as her pleasurable sensations continue with John’s loving caresses.
Then, after a few moments, John leans over and kisses Margaret’s lips as she moves her hand down his body to caress him. John moans with pleasure as they kiss each other adoringly. Then, when John feels that his own rapture can not be delayed, Margaret sits up and she gingerly moves to sit on top of John as they join their bodies together urgently, yet gently. John caresses Margaret as he blissfully continues his lovemaking with his Margaret until he experiences his own rapturous pleasures of ecstasy. They both sigh with the tenderness—and sensuousness—of this shared loving moment. Then, John gently helps Margaret lay back on her side, facing him and they cuddle and kiss and caress each other afterward until they fall asleep—loving husband and loving wife, and hopeful future parents—with John’s hand on Margaret’s tummy where their babies sleep and grow. They had forgotten to share their Christmas presents with each other—but then, their twins baby news is present enough.
To be continued with Chapter 73
“N&S: Nurturing Love”, Ch. 73: Christmas Day at Mother Thornton’s
John and Margaret awaken early and sleepily to their first Christmas Day together as husband and wife. John kisses his sweet wife and she cuddles next to him. They each lovingly remember their passionate Christmas Eve—and their wonderful babies’ news. And, after each of them tends to their morning waking routines of brushing their teeth, shaving in John’s case, and such, John and Margaret return to bed for another sweet romantic interlude.
But, they can’t spend the whole morning in bed since they will have a 10:00am Christmas Morning brunch at Mother Thornton’s. So, after cuddling for a little while longer, they dress themselves for their family gathering—that will include Mr. Hale—and ride in their carriage to the Thornton mansion with their presents for their family members, and for each other. Mother Thornton welcomes them into her large and beautifully decorated parlor with a holly wreath [(3) right]. The parlor also has a large decorated Christmas tree in the bay window with some presents already underneath it.
Mother Thornton: “John, Margaret dears.” She kisses and hugs each of them. “Happy Christmas!”
John: “Mother, Happy Christmas.”
Margaret: “Happy Christmas, Mother.”
John puts their labeled Christmas gifts under the tree and then he and Margaret go to greet Fanny and Watson.
John: Shaking his hand. “Watson, Happy Christmas.” Watson nods. “Fanny dear, Happy Christmas.” John kisses her and gives her a quick hug.
Fanny and Watson: “Happy Christmas John and Margaret.”
Margaret: “Fanny dear, Watson, Happy Christmas.” And she gives Fanny a warm sisterly hug.
Mr. Hale finally arrives and their little family party is complete as he greets everyone and they him.
Mr. Hale: “I hope I’m not late. Happy Christmas!”
Mother Thornton: “Not at all. Happy Christmas.”
Margaret: Giving her father a hug and kiss she says. “Happy Christmas Father.”
John: Shaking his hand he says. “Happy Christmas, Sir.”
Mr. Hale: To Fanny and Watson. “Happy Christmas Fanny and Watson.” Who nod at him.
Mother Thornton: “Well, I know that you’re all hungry, but we have a family tradition of each of us opening one present, and then having brunch before coming back to open the rest. So, each of you pick a gift and open it up.”
John and Margaret choose the gifts they have for each other. Mr. Hale chooses John and Margaret’s gift. Mother Thornton chooses the gift from Fanny and Watson. And Fanny and Watson choose Mother Thornton’s gift.
John: Opening his gift from Margaret, he spies the gold watch fob and says. “Oh Margaret Darling, what a thoughtful gift! Thank you my love.” He kisses her. “This will keep my father’s pocket watch safe.” John eagerly swaps out the old worn watch fob, for the now sturdier and shinier gold watch fob from Margaret. Margaret smiles sweetly at John liking her choice of gift for him.
Mr. Hale: “Ah my dears, thank you for this lovely three volume book set of Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. I will enjoy reading this.” Margaret kisses her father and John beams.
Fanny: Opening the gift to she and Watson from her Mother, sees a lovingly needle pointed baby nightgown and says. “Thank you Mother, this is lovely. You obviously put so much time into this.” Fanny shows the gift to Watson and her Mother beams. John thinks that Fanny has indeed softened and become more thoughtful and gracious as her marriage and pregnancy have gone along.
Mother Thornton: “Oh thank you dears.” She says as she opens Fanny and Watson’s gift of a flower patterned shawl. “Well, this is fun. Shall we all go in to brunch?”
John: “Well, actually, Mother, Margaret hasn’t opened my gift to her.” He says placing the flat square wrapped package in her hands.
Margaret: “Oh thank you John Dearest.” Margaret carefully unwraps the package and sees the velvet covered jewelry box underneath. She slowly opens the lid to reveal an 18 inch long dainty small pearl necklace. Margaret has never owned or worn anything so elegant. She looks lovingly at John and asks. “Will you help me put this on?” John takes the necklace from her hands and reaches around her neck and clasps the pearl necklace around her neck. Then he rests his hands on her shoulders. Margaret turns around, touching her necklace and says as she kisses John. “Thank you my love, this is so beautiful. I’ve never had anything to equal it.”
The families all go in to brunch in the large dining room. Everyone eats heartily—especially Watson and John–and then they all quickly return to the parlor for more gift opening. Though no one is a child, it is clear that the ‘young’ adults all enjoy opening their Christmas gifts.
John and Margaret: “How lovely!” They say to the gift of small table clock from Fanny and Watson. “Thank you.”
Mother Thornton: Opening John and Margaret’s gift of a Waterford crystal fruit bowl she says. “This is beautiful dears, thank you.”
John: Opening Mr. Hale’s gift to he and Margaret, they are delighted to find a precious memento of the Hale home, a set of matching book ends in the shape of a greek philosopher’s head. “Oh Sir, these are wonderful and they will look perfect with our new library you’re helping us to select.”
Margaret: “Yes, Father, thank you so much!” Mr. Hale beams.
Fanny and Watson open their gift from John and Margaret. Spying the candy right away, Watson opens the bag and pops one in his mouth before Fanny can stop him. She gives him a look, but becomes more positive when she sees the lovely silver candy dish that comes with it.
Fanny: “Oh thank you John and Margaret, this is so sweet.” Fanny says with no pun intended.
John: Opening Mother Thornton’s gift, John and Margaret see their own lovingly needle pointed baby nightgown. “Oh Mother, thank you.”
Margaret: “Yes, Mother, thank you. You’ve done such beautiful needle work.”
Then John and Margaret look at each other, smile knowingly and then decide to share their additional baby news with their family.
John: “Thank you again Mother for this loving gift. But, I’m afraid that we’re going to need another one.”
Mother Thornton: “Oh John Dear, we have plenty of time to get you and Margaret set up with enough baby clothes.”
Margaret: “Yes, we will have to make sure that we have at least duplicates of everything.”
Mr. Hale: Silent until now, he asks quizzically. “Margaret my dear?”
John: “You see, Margaret and I have found out that …” John leans down and kisses his beautiful Margaret. Then they say together.
John and Margaret: “We’re having twins!”
At first, everyone is stunned—similar to John’s initial reaction when Margaret told him. Then, they find their voices and congratulate them. Then they hug and kiss Margaret and shake John’s hand.
John: Saying protectively. “Now, be gentle with Margaret. She has to take it very easy from now until the babies are born.
Margaret: “Yes, I’m going to be mostly house bound for the next few months. So, I’ll really need visits from all of you to help me get through it.
Mother Thornton: “Of course, my dears.” And she hugs and kisses Margaret again. “Well, I say this is a wonderful conclusion to our Christmas presents.”
To be continued with Chapter 74
(1) The “North & South: Nurturing Love” story logo is a composite of three images, with text that I added:
(a) John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) having just kissed his love Margaret Hale (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe) and them gazing lovingly at each other in the North & South (BBC 2004), episode 4 (pix 346) train station kissing scene; the image was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/slides/ns4-346.html;
(b) a cropped image of the brambled tree branches in the Milton cemetery as John Thornton walks through it in North & South, episode 3 (pix 15); the image was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/slides/ns3-015.html;
(c) a masked image of the yellow rose John Thornton picked in Helstone in North & South, episode 4 (pix 271); the image was found at
(2) Enya – Silent Night (in Irish) Christmas (video by Matoga) was found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBpPTGUg0WE&feature=related
(3) Holly and berry wreath was from MS Office Clip Art and found at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=christmas&ctt=1#ai:MP900384745|mt:2|
Previous Story Links for “North and South: Nurturing Love” are found at