Mount Hope – Chapter Five

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 first historical Thanksgiving feast–pilgrims celebrating the harvest with the Indians who helped them with their crops. For fun everyone dressed in costumes, either as pilgrims or Indians, for the feast at the Grands. Junia wore 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 boots and a matching leather vest.

The kids had made hats, headbands with beads and feathers for everyone. Baby Ava wore a bow with a tiny feather tucked in and a beaded bracelet on her wrist.

With a 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 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 and lovingly looked at his wife. “Jun, this is the best–ever–really! And 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 brimmed over with joy. As head of the family Grand Jas started their “thanksgiving” tradition. “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 while toying with the bracelet on her wrist. Then Deni beamed a smile to Jas, “Oh, and thankful for Jazzy…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.”

Caitlin and Ryan, followed by his brothers, applauded and said, “Yea!” 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.

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!”

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. “Yea!”

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. “Ahhh Benjie–its okay–we all sometimes worry about tomorrow. Remember when you were lost in that storm, when we were camping?” Benjie nodded. “Remember, what did you do then?”

“I fell. 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.”

Junia smiled lovingly at Benjie and added, “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!”

This story is a fictionalization. Although, historical events, people and places are used fictitiously, details of the time period have been portrayed as accurately as possible for authenticity. All characters are fictional unless otherwise noted. If an actual historical character is mentioned an endnote with citation will be included.

(To continue reading: Return to Menu + Select Chapter Six)

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