This story was written for the 2017 Advent Calendar – Day 2
Summary: Ben and Little Joe enjoy an evening during what might be one of the last winters Joe enjoys snuggling on his Pa’s lap.
Rating: G 815 words
Christmas Wishes Series:
“that all the world should be registered.”
Of Winters Past…
Sitting on the raised porch, Ben Cartwright repositioned the blanket-wrapped bundle nestled snug on his lap as he looked out over the scenery of the night.
“Are you warm enough son?”
“Yeah Pa, I’m warm,” though his body gave a slight shiver. “It sure is pretty, all the snow falling.”
“That it is, son.”
“This is just like you and Mama. Do you still miss her?”
Taken aback by the unexpected question; it had been five years since his beloved Marie’s tragic death. “Yes, yes I do. I miss your mother as much as I miss Adam’s and Hoss’ mothers.”
Huddling closer and holding tight to keep the blankets closed, “I remember when you and Mama would sit out here… she was wrapped in blankets and sitting on your lap, she’d giggle a lot.” Joe sniffled with puddling tears shining in his eyes.
Remembering their too few years together and Marie’s insistence on being outside during the first snowfall of the season. “Is that why you wanted to come out here tonight?”
“Sort of… I couldn’t sleep, and Hop Sing always keeps some cocoa on the stove… and it’s so close to Christmas.”
“You’re missing her too.” Looking to the sky and the fluttering flakes; he felt his son nodding his head. Earlier he’d sensed a disquiet in his youngest son long before the boys headed upstairs to bed. It didn’t take much to realize something was on the boy’s mind when he didn’t want to play a second round of checkers with Hoss. So, it was no surprise to him when two hours later Joe traipsed down the staircase, blankets trailing behind, cascading down the staircase like a waterfall. “Your mother loved to watch the snow falling.”
“Especially on Christmas Eve,” Joe whispered.
“Yes, especially on Christmas Eve.” Hugging his son tighter, “It was something she never experienced before, having lived all her life in New Orleans. There was always something about a Christmas snow that transformed her, changed her to where she acted more like a little girl.” Ben’s eyes softened, “I remember a snowball fight between your mother and Adam that first winter.…”
“Mama surprised Adam didn’t she.” Joe took over the narrative he’d heard told times before, recounting how his two brothers had an all-out battle against their father before Ben finally yielded to their superior forces. “Adam stood from behind the water trough and Mama got him, dead center.” Working an arm out of the blanket, Joe mimicked the throw, “SPLOT!”
Smiling at the memory. “Yes, though the temperature began dropping, they continued to toss their projectiles back and forth until neither could move, they were so sore from laughing so hard.”
“Do you think it’s snowing in Boston?”
“It might be.”
Working his arm back inside the warmth of the blankets, “Do you think Adam remembers that snowball fight with Mama?”
“I’m sure he does.”
An angelic face looked up, “Pa, do you think me and Hoss could have a snowball fight with you tomorrow?”
Ben mulled over the thought of the stacks of paperwork on his desk which needed attention.
“St. Nicholas wouldn’t hold it against us this close to Christmas? He won’t think we’re bad boys, would he?”
“No, I’m sure he wouldn’t. He’ll still leave presents for you boys, if you two make sure all your chores are done; and it looks like it’s going to snow enough. Sure, we can have a snowball fight.”
Little Joe’s excitement passed and once again he quieted. “It’s peaceful out here. I know my Christmas wish….”
Knowing this might be the last year this son would want to snuggle as they watched winter cover the yard, “What do you wish, son?”
“My wish would be for all the world to know the love that I feel right now. The love of family, whether they’re near like you and Hoss or far away like Adam, or up in Heaven like our mamas. Or even those we’ve adopted as family, like Hop Sing…. there’s nothing like the love of family.”
Smiling at Little Joe’s wish, “I wish you the love of family forever and ever. Now come on, let’s get you inside and in bed; if you and Hoss are to stand any chance of beating me…”
Jumping from his father’s lap, “Hoss and me are an unbeatable team!” A hand snaked from the blankets to take hold of his father’s gloved hand.
“I’m sure you will be.”
“I hope Hop Sing will have plenty of hot cocoa and Christmas cookies for afterwards. And we need to make sure Hoss leaves some for Santa.”
May all your Christmases bring you fond memories — Merry Christmas!
Link to the 2017 Advent Calendar – Day 3 – A Cartwright Christmas Carol – Part 1 by PSW
Other Stories by this Author
- A Christmas Journey Remembered (by BluewindFarm)
- Twas the Night Before Christmas (by BluewindFarm)
- A Thawing Heart (by BluewindFarm)
- The Christmas Visitor (by BluewindFarm)
- Silent Night (by BluewindFarm)