The amber days of autumn were winding down and soon it was Thanksgiving holiday, with Caitlin, Ryan and the kids gathering to feast at the Grands. Ryan had been reading to the kids about the historical first Thanksgiving, pilgrims celebrating the harvest with the Indians. They thought it would be fun to dress in costumes, either as pilgrims or Indians when they gathered at the Grands for dinner. When they arrived Junia was wearing a long gray dress with a white apron and bonnet. Jas wore his usual plaid flannel shirt, but with jeans tucked into soft leather, moccasin style, knee-high boots. He also wore a matching leather vest. The kids had made hats, headbands with beads and feathers for everyone, even baby Ava had a bow with a tiny feather tucked in and a beaded bracelet on her wrist.
With a little fake frowny face, Jas remarked about the different costumes. “Jun are you the only pilgrim here at this feast?”
Junia smiled proudly. “Actually, we’re all pilgrims here on earth…it’s only my dress that’s different.”
Jas smiled and rubbed his hand on his belly. “True and hopefully we’re all on our way to the heaven someday, but not till we have some pie.”
Everyone chuckled and Junia smiled while quietly praying, Lord have mercy.
Then after each one found their place at the table, gracious applause honored Caitlin and Junia who brought out platters of roasted turkey, roasted vegetables, bowls of gravy, stuffing casserole, and Indian bread. And after each cup was filled with apple cider, Denver had the honor of saying the prayer, a prayer he had written and practiced with Ryan’s help.
“Father in heaven, we’re here to celebrate the harvest. Thank you for sending rain to fields growing our food. Thank you for farmers who worked to grow and gather our food. Bless each one. Thank you for our families and the food you give us each day. Bless each one as we celebrate with this meal. May we always remember you are near, Amen.” And everyone said, Amen.
Jas paused after a few bites of turkey with gravy. “Jun, this is the best, ever…really. I just want to say I’m so thankful for a wonderful wife and four new grandchildren. You’re all great kids. Just hope, with Gods’ help, to be a good grandpa, or Grand as you call me.” All the kids beamed with joy and chuckled. “So I’m the first to express what I’m thankful for, let’s go around the table and each one say what you’re thankful for.”
Junia had squeezed a seat in at the end of the table, next to Jas. She smiled lovingly at Jas and then smiled at each one around the table. “Thank you hon, always thankful for you and our children, and this year, four new grandchildren…count it a privilege to be your Grand…hope I can be a blessing to you, as you are to me.”
Denver, fork in hand, played with the vegetables on his plate while thinking somberly. “Miss my parents…hope they’re okay…but thankful for a good home…thankful for everyone, Caitlin, Ryan, the Grands, my new baby sister.” Everyone looked over at baby Ava, who was cradled in her carrier sitting on the floor next to Caitlin. She smiled and gurgled as if to recognize hearing her name. Then he beamed a smile to Jas, “Oh, and thankful for Jazzy…Oh, and learning to camp and fish.”
Denver nudged Corby who was seated next to him. “Okay, Corb, you’re next. Say what you’re thankful for.”
Corby looked over at Ryan seated next to him and grinned. “I’m thankful for David and courage.”
The Grands looked puzzled so Ryan promised to explain later. But his brothers knew from the prayer huddles before school, that he was thankful for David from the Bible story and courage to face friends at school. Caitlin and Ryan applauded and said, “Yeah!” Then his brothers joined in.
Ryan, seated at the end of the table, smiled and chuckled, raised his glass of apple cider as a toast to everyone. “Thankful for family to love and to share God’s goodness with, day by day. Cheers.” The Grands and Caitlin raised their glasses and said cheers!
Corby scrunched up his nose and asked, “What does cheers mean?”
“Cheers means, good health!”
Then Corby smiled and in humble acceptance took his cup, lifted it up with both hands and then said, “Cheers!” Then his brothers followed and did the same.
Caitlin raised her cup of cider again to toast, smiled and said, “Cheers again!” Then after a small sip of cider she said, “I’m thankful to finally be a Mom to four wonderful children! And happy that Ava’s finally sleeping!”
Everyone agreed that Ava sleeping was something to celebrate. “Yeah!”
All eyes were on Benjie who was next to Caitlin. He looked down for a moment, his smile turning to gloominess. A tear trickled down the corner of his eye. “I’m sad because my parents messed up…and…and…it’s good for us now, but I…I think about…what will happen to us later?”
Caitlin placed her arm around his shoulder and wiped his tear with her napkin. “Ah, Benjie, its okay, we all, sometimes, worry about tomorrow. Remember when you were lost in the dark in the storm, when we were camping.” Benjie nodded. “Remember, what did you do then?”
“I cried. And…oh, I cried to God, to help me.” Benjie’s face lightened.
“And God answered your prayer. Remember, Jazzy found you and Ryan and Jas carried you home.”
Ryan added. “Remember, God is always near. And we’re here for you too.”
Jas included his encouragement. “Benjie, when you’re tempted to worry, just tell God about it. Remember how he helped you before. And we’re here for you too.” And Junia added in agreement. “Yes, we’re your Grands forever.”
Benjie rubbed the tears out of his eyes and smiled. “I guess, I have a lot to be thankful for.” Caitlin smiled and patted his back. “Hope for the best…God’s best!”
(To continue reading: Return to Menu + Select Chapter Six)
This story is a fictionalization. Any mention of historical events, people and places are used fictitiously and any likeness to actual events, places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.