Hello all! Watching a lot of M*A*S*H reruns with family over Christmas break has revived my interest in this story, which I've had on the back burner for a while. It's a crossover of my favorite book and favorite TV show––you may think I deserve a Section 8 for attempting to combine M*A*S*H and Little Women, but bear with me––this just might work.
I'm not attempting to recreate Little Women with characters from M*A*S*H, but rather to borrow structure and themes from the book to create a believable collection of stories in the M*A*S*H universe. Since I'm dealing with grown men instead of teenage girls I won't be able to include everything, but keep an eye out for parallels and references to the book. The "cast" is roughly as follows:
Marmee––Col. Potter/Fr. Mulcahy
Mr. Laurence/Aunt March––Charles Emerson Winchester III
Sorry that was so long; without further ado, on with the story!
A freezing December wind whistled around the walls of the Swamp. BJ stuffed a wad of newspapers into the stove; he held his hands in front of the small fire and rubbed them together. Hawkeye put down his knitting to wrap the thin green blanket closer around his shoulders. "Christmas won't be Christmas in the middle of a war!" he grumbled.
"I need to re-do my winter wardrobe," sighed Klinger, looking down at his old dress, "I'll freeze to death before I get my Section Eight!"
"This'll be Erin's first Christmas," said BJ with a sad sigh, "I should be there, teaching her Christmas carols, and watching her unwrap presents, and kissing Peg under the mistletoe."
The door opened, ushering in a swirl of snowflakes and Radar. "Hiya fellas!" he said through chattering teeth. "Hey Radar," Hawkeye managed to say, without much enthusiasm. Radar crouched down by the stove next to BJ He took off his fogged glasses and wiped off the misty film with the edge of his shirt. He put them back on, sat back on his heels and looked around the tent. "What's everybody lookin' so glum for?" he asked, "Cheer up, sirs, it's Christmas tomorrow!"
"Some Christmas," grumbled Hawkeye, "The war won't even give us the day off."
"If Santa Claus doesn't come through for me with that Section Eight," Klinger chimed in, "I just might really lose my marbles!"
"I just want to be home with my family," BJ sighed, "It doesn't seem like Christmas without them."
"Yeah. I know what you mean," Radar said quietly. "But if I can't spend Christmas with my family, I can't think of anyone else I'd rather spend it with than you guys. At least we got each other, right?"
"Boy, you always manage to find a bright side to everything, don't you?" Hawkeye leaned down from his cot to give Radar's shoulders a squeeze.
"Any mail today?" asked BJ.
"Yep!" Radar reached into his messenger bag and pulled out two envelopes. "Here's a letter from your wife, and Hawkeye, here's one from your dad. And that ain't all," he announced proudly, "There's three boxes waiting in the office with your guys' names on 'em. I got one too."
The three glum faces brightened immediately, for they had not expected to receive packages from home until well into the New Year, if they got them at all. "Well what're we waiting for?" said Hawkeye, "Let's go get 'em!"
Minutes later, the four men crowded into the camp office, eagerly pouncing on the four cardboard boxes laid out on Radar's cot. BJ rifled through layers of old newspapers, glancing quickly at the headlines as he did so, until his fingers closed around a small leather-covered book. "A photo album!" he exclaimed, holding it up for the others to see, "Look, it's Erin––gosh, she's growing up so fast!" Beneath the photo album, he uncovered a round red tin. "Oh…" he chuckled, a grin slowly spreading across his face, "Peg's special Christmas cookies. It's her grandmother's secret recipe."
"What's in 'em?" asked Hawkeye.
"Cocoanut, chocolate, condensed milk," answered BJ, "jam, pecans, and just about everything else you can imagine."
"How about a splash of vodka?" said Hawkeye jokingly, as he dug into his own box to see what his father had sent. "Oh boy, thank you, Dad!" he said, lifting out a white cardboard box tied with a festive red bow.
"What'd you get?" asked BJ.
"It's from the Crabapple Cove Candy Company," said Hawkeye, slipping off the bow and peeking into the box. "Ribbon candy and peppermint sticks! Best in the world; they make it all by hand, right there in the store. This reminds me of when I was a kid; not a Christmas went by without this stuff."
Klinger was sitting on the floor, surrounded by bolts of fabric, rolls of ribbon, and spools of colorful thread, practically in tears. "Wool!" he exclaimed, "Flannel! Velvet! Uncle Zak, you are the best! And a muff! A real fur muff! That settles it: I'm going Victorian this season, with a long cape and a bonnet and hoop skirts, the whole nine yards! What'd you get, Radar?" he asked, nodding to the company clerk, who sat on his cot slowly unpacking his own small box with an expression of rapture.
"Ma sent a batch of cookies," Radar answered, "And her French loaf candy that she always makes at Christmas. And a new pair of mittens!" He slipped his hands into the warm blue wool and held them up for the group to see. "She must've made them herself," he said, "They fit perfectly."
Klinger finally reached the bottom of his box, uncovering a silver loaf-shaped object. "Lebanese fruitcake!" he exclaimed, "Who wants a piece?"
"No thanks, Klinger," said Hawkeye, "We get our fill of 'Lebanese fruitcake' from you every day."
Klinger sighed melodramatically. "If only I could get the Colonel to see it that way. But no, seriously, Mother's fruitcake; it's a Klinger family tradition." He peeled back a corner of the tinfoil wrapping. "It's delicious. Taste and see."
Hawkeye shook his head. "No, I tell you what we'll do," he said, excitement flashing in his blue eyes. "You hold onto your fruitcake, and Beej, don't break into those cookies just yet. Let's save the goodies for tomorrow, and have ourselves a real Christmas party! What do you say?"
B.J. pressed the lid back onto the cookie tin. "I've waited a year for these," he said, "I guess one more day won't hurt."
"Sure!" Radar agreed, "It'll be almost like Christmas back home."