The Christmas House Prequel
1845 – 1997
Chapter One – Jonathan is Born
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! The baby is coming!” screamed Shannon Kennedy in the throws of giving birth to her twelfth child, and sixth son, Jonathan Michael Kennedy on August 12, 1845, at her Lake County farm with the help of midwife and neighbor, Katie.
“You would think after eleven babies, you’d have this birthing process down like a cow giving birth to a calf,” said Katie with a thick Irish brogue.
“Aye, it is a wee bit easier, but hurts like hell, nonetheless. Where is my man?” replied Shannon.
“I sent Caroline to fetch him from the field. He should be here soon,” replied Katie.
No sooner had the words been spoken by Katie did the door to the bedroom flung open to reveal a massive man covered in mud and smelling like manure.
“Did I miss it? Did it already happen?” asked Patrick, Shannon’s husband.
“No, it’s still coming. Oh, for God’s sake, man, go change out of those clothes before you make us all vomit from the stench,” said Katie.
“No, I don’t care about the smell as long as he is here with me to welcome his child,” said Shannon.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world lass. I have been praying for this little one to take a breath,” replied Patrick
Of Shannon’s eleven births, only four girls had survived. The other seven were all stillborn and never took a breath.
“Push Shannon, push!” shouted Katie.
“Ohhh, my God!!! It’s coming! I can feel it ripping the hell out of me!” exclaimed Shannon.
“I think I’ll wait outside until the child is born,” said an uneasy Patrick.
“Patrick James, if you leave this room, just keep on walking across town and out of Lake County, for I will never forgive you. Now, come here and hold my hand,” ordered Shannon.
Patrick came to her side and placed his hand in hers. Shannon experienced another contraction, and she squeezed Patrick’s hand with all of her might.
“Holy Christ, woman, you’re breaking my hand!” shouted Patrick as he tried to step away, but Shannon’s grip was like that of a vise.
“Be happy she’s not holding on to your testicles Patrick,” smirked Katie, and continued, “One final push should do it. Push Shannon, push!”
Shannon screamed loudly and pushed as hard as possible, and the baby slid out into Katie’s hands.
“It’s a baby boy,” said Katie.
“Is he breathing?” asked Shannon apprehensively.
Katie didn’t answer because the baby was not breathing. She rubbed the baby’s back, but no sound was uttered. Patrick broke free of his wife’s grip and took the baby from Katie’s hands. The umbilical cord was still attached, but Patrick grabbed the baby by the ankles, held him upside down, and slapped the baby’s ass hard. SLAP!
“Breathe, my son, breathe, Goddammit!” Patrick demanded.
A moment of silence passed, but then it happened. “Wahhhaa!” The baby was alive.
Katie took the baby back from Patrick and wrapped him in a large towel as she prepared to cut the umbilical cord.
“Patrick, you have a son,” said Shannon smiling as she watched Katie gently clean the baby of the birth remnants.
“I have a son. I HAVE A SON!” shouted Patrick as he ran from the bedroom, through the house, and into the field.
“I HAVE A SON! Me, Patrick James Kennedy, has a son!” and he fell to his knees and began to weep.
He was quickly surrounded by his four daughters, who had been sitting on the porch waiting for their new sibling.
“Daddy, it’s a boy? We have a baby brother?” asked his eldest daughter.
“Yes, Caroline, you have a baby brother, and I finally have a son,” replied her father.
“I’m a very happy father. Can I take him for a walk?” asked a nine-year-old, freckled-face, red-haired daughter named Mary Katherine.
“Walk him? He’s not a dog Mary Katherine, and besides that, he is only a few minutes old. He can’t walk yet,” answered Patrick trying not to laugh.
“All right then, I will place him in my baby doll buggy and give him a ride to the pigsty,” the precocious girl replied.
“Mary Katherine, you will do no such thing! You are not allowed to play with your brother until he is much older. He is not a dog or a toy. Do you understand me, lass, or do I need to pull down your bloomers and take off my belt to show you how serious I am about this?” threatened Patrick.
“No, father, I understand,” she calmly replied as she turned and walked away. As she passed her younger sister Lillie, she whispered to her, “I’m gonna ask momma. She’ll let me play with the baby.”
Patrick returned to the bedroom to see Shannon sitting up in bed, cradling the baby in her arms. He pulled up and chair and sat by her side.
“Look at what you did, my darling. You have made me so very happy. I love you so much for giving me a son,” Patrick said as his eyes welled up.
“I couldn’t have done this only. You had something to do with it as well, Patrick,” replied Shannon.
“You’re thanking him for having his way with you nine months ago? Don’t encourage that kind of behavior, Shannon. You need to get some much-needed rest. And you (pointing at Patrick) keep your dirty mitts off her, you hear me?” asked Katie.
“Aye, I know I need to wait a month before we can, well… you know?” Patrick stated.
“A month? No sir. That only applies to when the child is a female, but when it’s a boy, you must wait two years,” said Katie.
“Two-years? No! That can’t be true. The McMahons have three boys, each only a year apart, so they didn’t wait for two years,” said Patrick defensively.
“Not as gullible as most men I see. And good with math. You might just make something out of yourself after all, Patrick Kennedy,” said Katie.
“What should we name this young man?” asked Shannon.
“Yes, but of course. He needs a proper and strong name. A name like Patrick. Patrick the second. Or Patrick junior,” offered Patrick.
“No, I don’t want a junior or a second running around the house. It’s too complicated with two family members named alike,” replied Shannon.
“I see nothing wrong with having two people in a household with the same name,” Patrick stubbornly rebutted.
“I’m afraid I have to agree with Patrick on this one Shannon. There is nothing wrong with two people in the same family having the same name, but I don’t think it should be Patrick. I think you should name him Shannon,” said Katie.
“Yes, Shannon can be a girl’s or a boy’s name,” said Shannon as she smiled at the baby. “Hello, little Shannon. Do you like your name?” she asked.
“Now, wait just one minute there, lassie; my son is not going to have a girl's name. He won’t make it out of first grade alive! The kids will be picking on him and making fun of his name,” debated Patrick.
“But Patrick, that will make him just that much stronger and confident if he has to defend himself every day from bullies,” replied Shannon.
“No! Not my son. Mary and Joseph, please place some common sense into my lovely bride’s red-headed brain!” Patrick pleaded.
“How about we compromise and give him a name he can call his own? I was thinking maybe, Jonathan. What do you think about that name?” asked Shannon.
“Jonathan… hmm, I like that name. Strong, proper, serious. Never Jonny or John. Always, Jonathan. Agreed?” asked Patrick.
“Agreed. Welcome home, Jonathan. We have been waiting for you for quite some time,” said Shannon.