Summary: Here is my answer to the November Chaps and Spurs challenge. As always hope you enjoy it.
Rated: K+ WC 2000
The First Thanksgiving
Ben was anticipating this Thanksgiving Day with an abundance of hope. This was the first of what Ben hoped would prove to be a reason his sons could not refuse to gather the family together and count their many blessings. Blessings that Ben hoped would one day increase in number. He and his sons usually all gathered together for supper but it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep everyone around the table long enough to discuss more then what had been accomplished that day and what still remained to be done the following. Ben supposed that as far as Joseph was concerned he was young and sowing his wild oats and he usually managed to drag Hoss along with him.
As far as Adam was concerned he knew what kind of a harvest was gathered from those kinds of oats. It was usually headaches and a day of feeling sick and tired. It wasn’t that Adam didn’t do his share of sowing, just that most of the time he knew how and when to have fun so that it wouldn’t interfere with or affect his performance or work the next day. Oh Ben knew Adam was no saint just that he was and always would be a more mature devil then either of his brothers.
Ben figured that since President Lincoln had saw fit to declare tomorrow, the last Thursday in November 1863 and every year hence, a day of national thanksgiving many places had decided to close in observance of it and that included the saloons. Ben’s silent musings were loudly interrupted.
“Maybe next time you’ll listen and do what I tell you!”
“Aw come on Adam, lay off a him.”
“LAY OFF HIM? Hoss he nearly got a horn through his leg!”
Ben quickly joined his sons outside. “WHAT is going on?!”
“Your youngest son nearly lost a leg today and all because he can’t listen to anyone.”
“Not anyone Adam just you! And pa it wasn’t like that.”
Adam raised his hands into the air. “I give up! Go ahead and get yourself killed!”
Ben called after his eldest son as he marched into the house and up the stairs. When that failed he turned to the two that remained. “So do you care to explain?”
“Pa it wasn’t that close. He’s just so uptight he can’t see straight.”
Ben looked from his youngest to his mostly likely source of truth. “Hoss?”
“Well pa it wasn’t as bad as Adam says…”
“SEE.” Joe was always glad when he was vindicated.
“…but it wasn’t as safe as Joe seems to think either. Admit it Joe you could a been hurt if older brother hadn‘t jumped in when he did and distracted that bull.”
“Why don’t you two go get washed up it’s nearly suppertime.” Ben followed his sons inside and closed the door.
“Pa would it be alright if I went into town after supper?” Joe was looking forward to a little distraction. He wouldn’t admit it but that bull did get a little too close for his comfort.
“But pa I don’t want to have to spend the night having to look at him.”
“Joseph you have been in town every night this week.”
“Yeah but I won’t be going tomorrow. Isn’t it bad enough that I’ll have to spend the whole day with him tomorrow?”
Three heads turned as a door upstairs slammed and the him in question came storming down.
“Adam where are you going?”
“JOSEPH. Adam don’t forget what tomorrow is.”
Adam knew how important tomorrow seemed to be to his father and it helped cool down some of his temper. “Don’t worry pa I remember and unlike some I’ll be home early. I just need to get away for a little while.”
“Be careful son.”
Joe watched his father close the door “How come he get to go to town!?”
“Don’t push me Joseph.”
“I’m not I just want to know why he gets to go.”
“Am I wrong or was it my understanding that you didn’t wish to be anywhere near him. Since the last time Adam was n town was Sunday for CHURCH I think he’s the one who should go, don’t you Joseph?”
Joe knew better then to try and push any further. “Yes pa.”
“Good then go get cleaned up.”
After supper Hoss got the feeling that his father wanted to be alone with his younger brother so he quickly excused himself. He knew there would be some leftover pie in the kitchen if he got hungry later on so he didn’t wait around for a second piece now.
Joe hated when his father called him Joseph. It usually meant a lecture was about to begin. “Yes pa.”
“Do you understand that Adam was only worried that something might have happened to you?”
“I’m not a kid pa!”
“It doesn’t matter! Not now or when you’re sixty, if he were standing right beside you or is a thousand miles away! If something were to happen to you Adam would blame himself.”
“Pa I am responsible for myself and my actions.”
“I know that Joe but you oldest brother has spent his whole life worrying about and watching out for you and Hoss. For most of your life he’s been responsible for you.”
“When I was a kid that was okay but I’m not one any more.”
“Joe I know that to you you’re an adult but believe me son you still have a lot of growing up to do and I want you to think what it would be like to do so without your eldest brother.” Ben could see the answer that was coming. “AND don’t give me any cynical answers. I want you to really think it over. Think how it would have been to grow up without your brother Adam. What would it be like to not have him here now.”
Joe went upstairs and despite his greatest attempts to not do as his father had said, it seemed as if once Ben Cartwright placed an idea into your head it just kept knocking around until you thought it out.
Ben heard the footsteps on the porch and prepared himself. He didn’t know how his son would react to finding him waiting up. “Hello Adam.”
“Pa you didn’t have to wait up.” Adam knew it wasn’t really so late and maybe his father hadn’t really been waiting for him. Somehow he knew that even if he had come home only moments before dawn he would have found his father sitting in the chair waiting.
“I know.” Ben returned his son’s smile thankful he didn’t seem to be defensive and ready to declare, much as his brother had, that he was a grown man and didn’t need his father sitting up and waiting for him.
“Goodnight pa.” Adam gave his father another grin and headed to the stairs.
“You know something Adam, I’m beginning to believe the reason I’m so all fired anxious to see you and your brothers settle down is because I figure once you do you’ll have sons of your own and then you will be in a better position to understand the hell you and your brothers put me through.”
“Yes pa. Goodnight.”
Ben looked at each of his sons in turn. They were a blessing he was thankful for even when they acted as they had yesterday. “Well this day has been put aside as a day for us to give thanks and I think that is what we should do.”
“Pa can I go first?”
Ben wasn’t about to say he had meant quietly. “Yes of course Joseph.”
Joe took a deep breath and began. “Adam pa told me to think about what it would be like to not have you around…” Joe knew what his brother was thinking by the look on his face. “…yeah I thought the same thing too. I’d be having a lot more fun. Pa knew that’s what I’d be thinkin too because he told me to really think about it and just like everything else, even if we don’t want to, once pa puts a thought into our heads we do it.
So I did. I really thought about it Adam and you what? I didn’t think about all the fun I felt I’ve missed out on or all the fights we’ve had. What I thought about was all the things I wouldn’t have if you weren’t here. I thought who would have given me his best fishin pole after I’d thrown mine into the lake cause I was mad because that fish had got away. Who would have taught me to tie a lasso or braid a bridle. Who would have argued with pa that I was old enough to ride my first drive and who would have gotten him to let me go by promising him he wouldn’t let me outta his sight and he wouldn’t let anything hurt me. Course pa don’t need to know what other first you let me do when that drive was over.”
Joe saw the look his father gave Adam and smiled. “Point is Adam I remember when you went away to college. I remember missing you every day and I remember it hurting more and more each day you were gone until I decided I wasn’t gonna miss you anymore. Instead I was gonna be mad at you for leaving me and hurting me like that. Guess maybe being mad at you just got to be such a habit that it’s hard to break. Thing is Adam I know we’ll never see eye to eye on everything but I know we do on one. We’re brothers Adam and always will be. I know when it comes down to it I can always count on you to be there. Even when I don’t want you to be but odds are I need you to be.”
“Are you done Joe?’
“Then is there anything you would like to say Adam?’
“I thought you meant for us to give our thanks silently.”
“Joe, you’re right, I did spend a lot of time convincing pa you were old enough to do certain things. The problem is I have a harder time convincing myself. The only good thing is I know it’s me who will usually be with you so I don’t have to try all that hard. I can’t help it Joe. I made a promise to watch out for you and it’s one I have to keep.”
“Pa tell him he can stop watching out for me so much.”
“Joseph, it wasn’t me he gave that promise too.” Ben knew Joe would realize the only other person Adam would give such a promise to would have been Joe’s mother Marie.
“Oh.” Joe let out a sigh of defeat. “Guess you better keep it then Adam.”
“Little brother I keep trying but I’m not getting any younger so could you maybe try to make it a little easier.”
“Now where’s the fun in that. Besides it’s me that keeps you young.”
“All I know is like pa I hope someday you have a son just like you and then you’ll understand.”
As Hop-Sing came in with the food the smiles on their faces became wider and before he could disappear back into the kitchen Ben got up and held out a chair for the last member of the family to sit in so this first Thanksgiving Day could begin.
Other Stories by this Author
- Common Traits (by Storm)
- Ring of Memories (by Storm)
- A Christmas Story (by Storm)
- The Magic Of Christmas (by Storm)
- This Won’t Work (by Storm)