~*~*~ Advent Calendar ~*~*~
* Day 10 *
Summary: Ben sets out to surprise his sons at Christmas. However, when things take a turn for the worst, Ben does something he has failed to do in a long time.
Word Count: 1,000
The Christmas Tree Surprise
It was Christmastime again on the Ponderosa. Outside, the birds sang sweetly in the pine trees without a care in the world and seeming to rejoice at the day. Ben didn’t feel much like celebrating, though. It was the first Christmas after the death of his beloved Marie. Ben had been here before, trying to gather up enough happiness to make it through that first Christmas without his wife. This time was different: he had three young boys with two of them old enough to fully understand what had happened.
As the days in December ticked by, he could not only feel the sadness growing inside himself, but could also see the sadness in his young boys. In the past, he had been able to deal with his grief in his own way without really worrying about his sons. Adam is the only one who has experience in dealing with the death of one of his wives in the past. But even then, he was only sad for a few days and like most young children, he was back to his normal, happy self. This time, both Adam and Hoss and even Joe to some extent, were old enough to feel the effects of the loss of Marie, much like Ben. His sadness was one thing, but to see his son’s sadness during the holiday season, that was something he couldn’t bear. So, despite his grief and his unwillingness to get into the Christmas spirit, he wanted to bring some cheer to the Ponderosa, even if it was just momentary.
Ben had awoken one morning with the decision to head out to find the perfect Christmas tree. He announced at breakfast that he was heading out on a little day trip and that Adam was in charge while he was gone. He kept the true nature of his outing a mystery, leaving his sons with the notion he was heading out hunting for wild game. While he didn’t approve of deceit, this little white lie would all be worth it when he saw the look of surprise and shock on their faces when he arrived home with the best Christmas tree in all of the Ponderosa.
After waving goodbye to his family, Ben set out on foot into the woods. He knew the perfect spot to find the very best tree. After a couple of hours of walking, he reached the spot. Lying ahead of him were hundreds of smaller pine trees. Now came the chore of finding “the one” amongst them all. Some were too small, others too big, even for the big great room back at the ranch.
After an hour of searching, he spotted it: the perfect tree! After cutting it down, he prepared to start dragging it back to the ranch. However, as he turned around, he suddenly became unsure of how to get home. He had been in these woods hundreds of times and knew them like the back of his hand, but for some reason, he was confused and downright lost. Under normal conditions, he’d use the sun to help point him in the right direction, but today was so cloudy not even a hint of the sun could be seen so he couldn’t use that as a navigational guide. The more he looked around, the more turned around he became. Realizing he couldn’t stay there forever, he decided to just start heading in the direction he thought was home.
Several hours into his journey home, he knew without a doubt was lost. He never passed any of the landmarks he passed on the way out. Sitting down to try to get his bearings once again, all he could think about was his sons. What if he never made it back? What would happen to them? Would they be able to handle another loss of a parent so soon?
Looking up to the sky, he did something he hadn’t done since Marie’s death: sent up a prayer. “God, I hope you are listening. Please remove me from this place. Show me a sign. My sons need me. I’ll do anything if you can just get me home safely.”
No sooner had he said those last words, did the clouds begin to part just enough so he could see the sun and get his bearings. He sent up another prayer of thanksgiving before heading in the now right direction. Before long he saw the ranch house out in the distance. He was eternally grateful for whoever was looking out for him today.
It was well past when Ben said he would be home by the time he reached the yard. Three eager and anxious boys came running out of the house to greet Ben before quickly coming to a stop as they noticed the tree still being dragged behind him.
Joe was the first to reach him and the first to notice the tree. “Hey, Pa! What’s that?”
“Golly, Pa. I thought you were out hunting animals, not trees!”
“Well, Hoss, I thought we all deserved a little cheer in our lives right now. We’ll put it up in the great room and decorate it for Christmas as a special remembrance for all your mothers and my three wives.”
Adam just smiled at the generosity of his father and for actually being able to pull off a surprise for them. “Thanks, Pa. We were worried about you, but this sure is a welcome surprise worth waiting for.”
Heading into the house, all three sons surrounded Ben with a hug, thankful for the surprise he brought them.
As Ben gathered up all his sons in a giant hug, he finally realized that as long as he had his boys and his boys had him, all would be well in the end.
Link to 2019 Advent Calendar – December 11:
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