~*~*~ Advent Calendar ~*~*~
* Day 17 *
Summary: Ben and his young sons have received a box from Inger’s brother Gunnar right before Christmas. What could be inside?
Rating: G 965 words
Note: This story was written for the Bonanza Brand 2020Advent Calendar, originated in the Forums.
It was Christmas morning when Ben and his two young sons started opening presents before eating breakfast. Adam was age nine, and Hoss was three. They all lived in a simple three-room cabin on land that Ben had gotten after they had arrived in Utah Territory about a year and a half ago. He picked up the box that he had received from Inger’s brother Gunnar a couple of weeks ago. A note written on it said to not open it until Christmas. He just gazed at it for a few quiet moments while memories of Inger and Gunnar ran across his mind. Ben and Gunnar had gotten off on the wrong foot with each other when they first met. Eventually they reconciled. Gunnar’s last words to Ben were to take good care of his sister. Now Inger was gone.
Ben had sent Gunnar a letter letting him know that Inger had passed away. He did not hear from Gunnar until the box came.
“Pa, are you going to open it?” Adam asked. “I want to know what Uncle Gunnar sent us.”
“All right, I’m getting to it,” Ben answered.
He opened the box to find an envelope laying on top of four wrapped gifts which were cushioned by lots of wadded paper. The two bigger gifts had his name on them while the smaller ones each had one of the boys’ names on it. Ben pulled a note out of the envelope and read it aloud to the boys.
Thank you for telling me about Inger. I’m so sorry. She was always a sweet sister. I miss her very much.
I have finally decided to go to the gold fields. There’s nothing left for me here. I sold the house to McWhorter. I have been giving a lot of stuff away and selling some things. Mrs. Miller said I should send some of them on to you. So I have sent a few things to you I believe Inger would want you and the boys to have. I hope you enjoy them.
Maybe someday I’ll find you and see you and Adam and my new nephew Eric – Hoss.
Goodbye for now,
“I hope Uncle Gunnar does visit someday,” Adam said.
Ben nodded. “I hope so too.”
He had a feeling Mrs. Miller was the one responsible for all of the wadded paper probably to make sure the gifts arrived undamaged. What were these fragile gifts anyway? Inger did have some family heirlooms in the house. There was room for only so much in the wagon when she and Ben and Adam had left town. There were things that Inger said she felt bad about leaving behind – including her jewelry box. Ben had promised her he would buy her a new jewelry box after they found a new home in the west. Instead Inger never made it to their new home. She had died along the way.
Ben pulled out Hoss’ gift and handed it to him. Hoss tore off the wrapping to reveal a framed picture of Inger.
“Mama!” Adam exclaimed.
“Mama?” Hoss replied with a questioning look in his big blue eyes – so blue just like his mother’s.
Ben pointed at the picture. “Yes, that’s your mama.”
“My mama.” Hoss gazed at the picture as if in admiration.
“We’ll put it beside your bed.”
Next Ben pulled out Adam’s gift and handed it to him. Adam slipped off the wrapping to reveal two books of fairy tales.
“Mama read me some stories from these,” Adam said.
Ben replied, “Yes, she did.”
Then Ben lifted out the bigger of his two gifts. He unwrapped it to see a blue and white urn. Didn’t Inger say that her parents had brought it over from Sweden?
Adam questioned, “Didn’t Mama have that in the kitchen?”
Ben carefully set the urn on the kitchen table. Then he took his other gift out of the box. He unwrapped it to see a familiar small wooden box with a single pink flower painted on the lid. Could it be?
“Her jewelry box?” Ben whispered.
He opened the lid to see several wads of paper nestled inside as if they were protecting something very precious. When he undid all of the wads he found Inger’s two pairs of earrings and her mother’s gold wedding ring which was inlaid with a single tiny diamond. The earrings were small and simple. One pair were gold hearts while the other had some kind of blue stones. Didn’t Inger say they were aquamarines? Ben was surprised that McWhorter didn’t get a hold of the ring. Maybe Mrs. Miller had somehow made sure he never knew about it.
“This was her jewelry box.” Ben held it up for the boys to see. “You may only look. No touching.”
“I remember Mama wearing those earrings,” Adam said.
“Yes. She only wore them to Church. This right here is her mother’s wedding ring.”
It was late at night as Ben sat at the kitchen table after putting the boys to bed. He had even read to them a couple of the stories from the books Gunnar had given to Adam.
Now Ben sat alone with the jewelry box sitting on the table. He gazed at the jewelry while he remembered Inger’s warm smile and her gentle presence. He fingered one of the earrings and sensed he could feel her very close. It was as if she was still there and had never really left. Perhaps she had somehow managed to make sure her jewelry box had made it to the new home in the west after all.
Character: Uncle Gunnar
Gift: Jewelry Box
Inspired by: Inger, My Love
Director: Lewis Allen
Written by: Frank Cleaver, Anthony Lawrence, David Dortort (creator)
Link to the Bonanza Brand 2020 Advent Calendar – Day 18 – Knitted Memories by wx4rmk
Other Stories by this Author
- Mama’s Brooch (by Sierras)
- Eagle’s Nest (by Sierras)
- Wishes (by Sierras)
- Sunrise (by Sierras)
- I’ll Wait (by Sierras)