How to Be the Oldest – A Dragon Sanctuary Holiday Story
“Deck the halls with lots of firewood, fa la la la la…”
“La la la LA.” Sebastian sang along with his Uncle Zeke, carrying the biggest armload of firewood he could. He had found out, just this year, just today, that being the oldest meant that one got up early to go out and do the chores so all the other siblings and cousins could sleep in.
Good thing he had Uncle Zeke to teach him all about being the old one. He thought Zee was the very best uncle ever.
They got to feed the alpacas and the chickens, who were very hungry, and he milked Selena the good goat while Zee milked the others, and Zee taught him the carol about milking — “O milk the goats! They make the bestest cheeses!”
“What comes next, Zee?” Sebby asked.
Zeke glanced over, rainbow-colored eyes whirling at him. “In the chores or the song?”
“Both!” They laughed together, and then a thought hit Sebastian. “Zee, are you excited about Santa?”
“I am.” Zeke nodded, putting Millie goat into position. “Come pour this into the iced bucket?”
“Uh-huh.” He moved carefully to tip the milk into the holding bucket, which was actually set into another one packed with snow. Goat milk had to be cold, or it would go nasty. Nah-stee. “I hope I got my book.”
“I think Santa loves to give books best.”
“Even if all the stories and songs are about him making toys?”
“Just think how cool and different books must be then.” Zeke gave him an arch look.
He pondered that. It made sense, and Zee knew things. Zee was the guardian of their dragon clutch, and one day Sebastian would go away — not far, because he loved his family — and make a home of his own, maybe with Preston and Keifer and the others of his generation.
They would need more room when they found mates and had babies like their fathers had.
“I like that. I like books and toys and Santa, but I love my daddies and uncles and babies and you, Zee.”
“I love you too, my Sebby.” Zeke stood and stretched, the goats all milling around. “Okay, all we have left is checking the water lines to the greenhouse and taking the milk inside.”
“Checking lines. Where are the lines?” He looked all around.
“The ones I mean are tubes the water goes through for the plants. We need to make sure they’re not frozen. I can show you how to do that next time, though. Why don’t you take the milk in? I bet your dad is up helping Abe and Seth cook by now.”
“No. No, I will help.” He needed to know this. He was going to be a good alpha. He was going to make his Uncle Zee so proud. He was going to be strong and brave.
“Oh, Sebby. I’m so proud. I’m proud right now. You are brave and loving and strong, and I love you.” Zeke reached out to grip his shoulder.
His heart melted. “I love you too! The milk will stay cold in the snow.”
“Okay, kiddo. I’ll show you then.” Zeke led the way through the trail they’d kept shoveled in the deep snow, off to the heated greenhouse.
By the time they went back inside, he wasn’t sure he understood everything about water lines, but he knew what they were and how to clear one, and he might only need Zeke to show him one more time before he did it alone…
They headed in, snow crusted on their hats and boots, and he felt tall.
“Papa! We have the milk!” He carried it so carefully, not spilling a drop.
His father smiled for him, coming to take the bucket. “Well done. I wondered where you’d got off to.”
“M’the oldest. S’my job.” His nose quivered at a yummy sweet. “Hot choccie?”
“I bet there is. And cinnamon rolls. And bacon. Daddy has been busy.”
“Cinnamom…” Sebby smacked his lips. “Yay.”
“Yes.” His papa looked over his head at Zeke. “Anything Samuel needs to do?”
“We got it all, didn’t we, Sebby? He’s the best helper ever. I think we both deserve choccie.”
“We do! It’s cold as…snow out there.”
“Good choice of words, kiddo.” Zeke winked at him, and he giggled.
“Can I go change, Papa?” His pants were soggy.
“If you’re quiet, huh?”
“Uh-huh.” He needed fuzzy socks and maybe his softest jammies. So he snuck off to his room, not wanting to wake up Preston.
His brother was up though, peering at him with bright eyes. “Sebby? Christmas!”
“Uh-huh,” he whispered. “Daddy still asleep?”
“No. He’s waiting for me to wakes up.”
“Oh. Do you need to go potty? You should go before we get Daddy.”
“Pwease.” Preston’s little grin was so cute. “I wanna be a big boy.”
“So soon. You are a good reader already. Come on.” Sebby got his baby boy up and dressed and to the bathroom, then he grabbed Preston’s hand. “Let’s go get Daddy.”
“’Kay. C’mon, Fractal.”
The arctic fox who was their best friend stretched and yawned but followed them happily. He liked bacon a lot.
They pounced on Daddy’s bed with cries of, “Merry Christmas!”
“Oh, are my boys awake!” Daddy gathered them both into a hug, his arms so strong. “Merry Christmas.”
“I did all the chores, Daddy. I milked and fed and stuff with Zee.” He wanted Daddy to be so proud of him.
“Oh, wow. And I got to stay in bed. You’re amazing. I’m proud of you for helping Zeke and learning so much. And I’m proud of you for staying in bed, Preston, and letting me rest.”
“Thank you, Daddy. Christmas now.”
“Yes, my good boys. Christmas now. Let’s go to the kitchen!”
He got a huge hug and a smile, Daddy’s blue eyes warm and happy.
Everyone else would be there. He could hear excited noises. Sebby beamed. He loved his family, and this was the best day to spend with them, because he got to give them presents.
And get them too.
He took Daddy’s hand as Preston gripped the other, and they headed off to Christmas, singing all the way.
It was going to be wonderful.