A Mulligan Christmas
© 2005 by Deb Stover
Story and characters related to Mulligan Stew and Mulligan
A Gift To My Wonderful Readers...
For the first Christmas Eve in over a century, lights and laughter and
love filled Caisleán Dubh. The downstairs and second floor
renovations were now complete, and the work on the tower would soon begin.
The Mulligans had packed up their belongings and moved into the family quarters
in the castle two weeks before Christmas.
Jacob Samuel Mulligan understood miracles. His great-granny had always
said, " Life is one big, fat miracle." Back in Tennessee, he'd
always had his momma and great-granny. Then Granny had died and they'd come
to live in Ireland with his daddy's family. Momma had fallen in love with
and married Uncle Riley, then opened her own restaurant here in the castle
called Mulligan Stew. He'd never seen her so happy, and it made his
eight-year-old heart swell and press against his throat.
He wouldn't cry--only babies cried, and he was a big boy now. Besides,
he had no reason to cry. His momma was the smartest and the prettiest momma
in the whole world. Last Christmas Eve, they'd celebrated in their trailer
with a tiny aluminum tree Granny had bought at the Red Shield Store. Every
year for as long as Jacob could remember, Granny had placed a special star
on top of that little tree, and every year Momma had cried and hugged Granny
and Jacob. She always said she was the luckiest woman in the world to have
them in her life.
And now, this year they were having Christmas in a castle! A real castle!
Another big, fat miracle...
Too excited to sleep, Jacob slipped out of his new bedroom with its
high ceiling and long windows, and down the curving stone staircase to the
main floor. There in front of the massive windows overlooking the sea, stood
the biggest Christmas tree he'd ever seen. Uncle Riley had left the lights
on tonight and they twinkled against the polished marble floor and the windows
behind it. Wrapped packages peered out from beneath the branches, tempting
and teasing, but Jacob didn't pause to shake or ponder their contents
He was a boy with a mission.
Silently, he padded barefoot across the cool floor to gaze up at the
lush green branches and sparkling ornaments. Swallowing the lump in his throat,
he reached into the pocket of his robe and withdrew an old sock that didn't
have a mate. From inside the sock, he pulled out the slightly bent tin star
his great-granny had placed on that ugly little tree back in Tennessee every
year. He'd tucked it into this sock when he and Momma came to Ireland.
The tree was so beautiful--so perfect. And this crooked star with its
tattered tinsel wouldn't look right on it. For weeks, he'd thought about
asking permission to put it on the tree, but he'd kept quiet. Now, staring
at it here beneath the light of the world's greatest Christmas tree, he
" My daddy made this star with a hammer and a piece of tin before
I was born, and my momma glued the sparklies to it," Granny had said
every year. " It was the only ornament they could afford, and it helps
me remember who I am and where I come from."
The wise old woman's words played through Jacob's mind and he gave
an emphatic nod. Granny was still part of them, and her star belonged on
this tree. He reached upward with it clutched between his thumb and forefinger,
wishing he were tall enough to reach the very top.
Then, suddenly, a pair of strong hands gripped him around the waist
and hoisted him higher. Unafraid, Jacob hung the star near the top of the
tree beside the angel his aunt Maggie and mamó had placed there.
The lights twinkled beside the star, and Jacob could have sworn he heard
his great-granny sigh in satisfaction.
On the floor again, Jacob turned to look up into his new daddy's twinkling
blue eyes. " Thank you, Uncle Riley."
Uncle Riley grinned his special crooked grin and hugged Jacob. " 'Twas
already a fine tree, but now it's perfect."
" Perfect," Momma echoed as she knelt in front of Jacob. " I'm so glad
A tear rolled down Bridget Mulligan's cheek, and Jacob reached out to
capture it on the tip of his finger. " It's a heart diamond," he
said, remembering all the times Granny had called his little-boy-tears heart
Uncle Riley knelt beside her and more heart diamonds rolled down Momma's
cheeks. She gathered Jacob and his new daddy into her arms and said, " I'm
the luckiest woman in the world to have you both in my life."
Uncle Riley looped his strong arms around Jacob and Momma and said,
" 'Tis the only place I ever want to be--here with you and Jacob."
" Merry Christmas!" Jacob shouted, his voice echoing off the high, domed
ceiling. His parents laughed and hugged him, then they all rose and stepped
back to gaze up at the glittering tree with its lonely tin star packed with
more than one lifetime of memories.
Granny, you were right. Life was one big, fat miracle, and Jacob
couldn't imagine it any other way.