Scott lifted his gift from its nest of colorful wrapping paper and stared at it, horrified.
“Well, what do you think?”
“Oh, Honey…it’s… um…”
Delia and Teresa had recently taken up knitting and the result of Delia’s first endeavor was now dangling from Scott’s fingers. It was a sweater. At least, he thought it was a sweater. It was sort of lumpy and kind of misshapen and one sleeve was longer than the other.
And then there was the color. Not quite red, not quite orange. It was so bright it made his eyes water. Good Lord, had his wife suddenly become color blind?
“Something to keep you warm while you’re working. It can get so chilly at this time of year,” Delia gushed. “Try it on, Darling. I want to see if it fits.”
Yeah, Boston,” Johnny chimed in from his spot on the floor near the Christmas tree, his eyes twinkling with suppressed mirth. “Try it on and see if it fits.”
“I don’t think-“
“Go on, Son,” Murdoch added. Ensconced in the chair by the fire, he had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing at the look of dismay on his eldest’s face. “Show off your wife’s lovely handiwork.”
Scott realized he was trapped. There was no way he could get out of this without hurting Delia’s feelings. Resigned, he pulled the sweater on over his head and stood to model it for his family. “Well, how do I look?”
“The color is…really quite extraordinary.” That was from Murdoch.
“Everything in Scott’s wardrobe is blue, white, brown or tan,” Delia explained. “I wanted to give him something a little brighter, more cheerful.”
“We certainly won’t have any problems spotting you out on the range, Boston.”
“That’s for sure,” Murdoch muttered as he took a sip of from his coffee mug.
Struck by inspiration, Scott’s eyes widened for a brief moment before he schooled his expression to one of concern and regret. “Hmm, that’s a very good point. Cows don’t like the color red. They may try to charge me. I’m afraid it would be too dangerous to wear this out on the range.”
“Oh, dear! I didn’t think of that.” Delia was crestfallen.
“Pfft! That’s nuthin’ but a myth.” Johnny countered with a negligent wave, not willing to let his brother off the hook just yet. “Just think how warm that sweater will keep you when you’re out surveying or picking up supplies in town.”
Scott shot his brother a searing look that clearly said ‘shut the hell up’ as he sat back down on the sofa next to his wife and put an arm around her shoulder. Unrepentant, Johnny just grinned and popped a roasted chestnut into his mouth.
“Do you like it, Scott?” Delia asked as she leaned into her husband.
“What’s not to like?” Johnny continued to push. “It’s a great sweater. Right, Murdoch?”
“Oh, absolutely! A thing of beauty,” Murdoch nodded enthusiastically.
“I’m glad you think so,” Teresa chirped, handing a present to both men. “Because we knit some for the two of you as well.”
“Oh..erm…Sweetheart, you shouldn’t have…”
Scott couldn’t help but laugh at the looks of panic on their faces as they opened their gifts under Teresa’s watchful eye.
As Murdoch and Johnny dutifully admired their own lumpy, misshapen sweaters – mustard yellow and lime green, respectively – Delia put her hand on Scott’s knee to gain his attention. “Do you really like the sweater, Scott?” she asked, her voice soft.
“You made it for me with love, Honey, so yes, I do. Thank you.” He gave her a quick kiss. “But perhaps the next one could be navy blue?”