Summary: Ben and the boys have the yearly duty of going to the orphan house and reading to the children every Christmas season. This year when Ben doesn’t know what to read, he is given some inspiration by his sons. Enjoy! *Author’s note: this story is centered more on the Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man so it doesn’t follow as much detail to the real Wizard of Oz story with Dorothy and Toto. And also keep in mind that this is a story within a story. 😉
Merry Christmas!! Rated: K+ (1,830 words)
The Wizard of the Ponderosa
In early December the glistening snow shines like a million tiny diamonds and covers almost every inch of ground on the great Ponderosa Ranch. This time of year can mean more work than usual but also more fun. Among all of the duties that the four Cartwrights had in order to get ready for the special holiday of Christmas, Ben also was in charge every year of going to the town orphan home to read a story to the kids, something he was very proud and felt privileged to do.
On the morning he was to go to the orphan home, Ben sat in front of the vast collection of books that sat on each shelf in his den. He was facing the dilemma of trying to decide which book he would read this year.
“There are so many and yet I can’t think of one that I have never read to them.” He thought to himself. He had been doing this for five years now so he was beginning to run out of books that would grab the interest of those children and make them forget for even that small amount of time about their woes and troubles.
Suddenly his attention was turned to the sounds of his sons’ voices coming through the front door.
“Well I agree with Adam! I don’t know why you gotta let those drunken good-for-nothin’s bother ya so much!” He heard an obviously peeved Joe say.
“Dadburnit Joe cause they kept sayin’ I’s a big ol’ coward ‘cause I didn’t wanna fight that fella last week!”
“Well it’s like I told you earlier, he was a prize fighter, and you wouldn’t have stood a chance.” Adam reasoned. “And as far as them calling you a coward, I can’t count how many times people have told me I’m stonehearted or too serious! I just don’t let it bother me anymore.”
“Yeah and did ya here Hank Johnson say how much smarter he is than me?! Now can you believe that?” Joe said sounding appalled.
“That’s it!” Ben exclaimed.
The boys all turned sharply towards their father. “What’s it?” They asked collectively.
Ben slammed his hand on his desk in satisfaction and then hurried over to where the book was sitting on his shelf. Then he walked over to the boys and waved the book at them. “What I’m going to read to the kids at the orphan home this year! Now let’s go we’re going to be late!”
The boys exchanged a confused glance, shrugged their shoulders at each other and rushed out the door to keep up with their father.
Upon arriving to the orphan house, Ben and the boys found the children eager as always to see them. Since they had pledged to spend at least four hours there, the boys played with the kids before Ben read. They had brought some toys for all of the children and Adam had even brought his guitar to play and give impromptu lessons.
Ben sat back and watched his boys play with the kids and talked to the orphan home director, Miss Adley. “Yes Carol, I think the children will be very pleased with this year’s book. It’s a true classic!” He beamed.
“Well Ben I’m sure whatever it is they will love it as they always do! I truly believe they just love having you and your boys here no matter what you read to them. Your company is very special to each of these children. They look forward to this almost as much as they do being placed in permanent homes.”
Ben sighed to himself quietly. This part was difficult every year when they came. There were many joys in coming to visit these kids but there was also one sorrow; they would all four undoubtedly leave wishing they could find good, loving homes for each and every one of these children just in time for Christmas.
Two hours passed rather quickly as it always did when the Cartwrights spent time with these children. Now it was time for Ben to read to them. The children only needed to be called once to encircle Ben in his chair. They loved listening to Ben’s mighty voice read. It was so soothing and comforting.
“Alright kids, this year I thought we might do something a little different. This isn’t a Christmas story per say but it’s a story that I think you will all love just the same. This is the story of The Wizard of Oz.”
The Children beamed with curiosity. Ben could see that they had never heard of the tale and that pleased him because he knew that he would have their attention right from the start. He settled back into the chair, opened his book, and began to read.
Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road. Young Dorothy kept repeating to herself the advice that the good witch had given her. She walked down the golden road until she came across a part of it that split into two different directions.
“Now what do I do? The road goes two different ways!” She said distressed.
“Well now if it were me, I’d probably go that way.” She heard a voice say.
Dorothy looked around for the source of the voice. “Who….who said that?”
“Then again that way’s good too.” The voice once again said.
Dorothy looked over to see a scarecrow on a post that she was sure had been facing the other way only a moment ago.
“Who…did you say that? Of course not, Scarecrows can’t talk.”
The straw-filled fellow then jumped off of his post and walked over to her.
“This one can! Funny too because I don’t have a brain.” Joe Scarecrow-
“Wait a minute! Why do I have to be the scarecrow?!”
“Because that’s just the way it is Joseph. Now let’s get back to the story!”
Joe crossed his arms and pouted.
“Well I’m headed to Oz to see the Wizard! Maybe he can give you a brain!” Dorothy said gleefully.
“Do you really think so?!”
“Why of course. The Wizard can help anybody!”
So the two started on their merry way towards the Emerald City to find the Wizard. They were walking along near an apple tree when suddenly they saw a Tin Man leaning up against it.
“Why look, it’s a tin man!” Dorothy said. “And he’s trying to say something!” She found his oil can and pressed it up against his lips so he could talk.
The Tin Man wiggled his lips to get used to the new found freedom and then slowly opened his mouth. “Ahhhh much better! I’ve been stuck like that for centuries!”
“Well we’re headed to Oz to see the Wizard so that he can give me a brain and get her back home to Kansas! Maybe you’d like to come with us.” The Scarecrow suggested.
“Well maybe he can give me a heart!” The tin man said.
“Heck sure-wait, how are you alive if you don’t have a heart?”
“Joseph quit interrupting the story!” Ben bellowed.
“Just pointing out the obvious.” Joe muttered.
Now the three were off once again towards the Emerald City. They found themselves going though the forest to get there faster. The forest was dark and frightening with distant sounds of animals squawking around them.
“This place is kinda spooky.” Dorothy said.
Suddenly from out of nowhere a large lion leaped out in front of them, landing on his foot then falling on his behind. “Dadburnit!” the lion yelped.
“Where did you come from?” The Tin Man asked.
“I was tryin’ to scare ya but…but instead I just done scared myself!” He sighed.
“Oh you poor thing! Maybe if we take you with us to see the wizard he can help you get some courage!” Dorothy said.
“Hey yeah I reckon that’s a pretty good idea at that!” The Lion said.
The four quickly marched the rest of the way to the castle. Finally after some debate on whether or not the great and powerful would see them, they were in. They crept cautiously down the green hallway lighted by torches until they got to the bottom of the isle. There, waiting for them was the great and powerful Ben-oh I mean Oz.
“Come closer! What is it that you seek?” The mighty voice rang.
“Well you see, your majesty, my friends and I have special requests that are very important to us and you’ve just gotta help us!” Dorothy peeped.
“Silence! I will decide whether or not to grant your requests!”
“Okay look buddy! First ya make me into a Tin man! Then ya yell at this poor girl here! Well why don’t ya pick on somebody your own size!”
“Adam easy yer temper!” Hoss cautioned.
“Well now,” the great Oz said, “It seems to me that for someone without a heart you care and awful lot about others, Mr. Tin Man.”
The tin man (and Adam) thought for a moment.
“And you, Mr. Scarecrow, if you didn’t have a brain you wouldn’t have made it as far in this life as you have! Running a ranch-I mean keeping crows out of a garden is not an easy job.”
The Scarecrow (and Joe) thought for a moment.
Finally, the great Oz looked to The Lion. “Just because you don’t want to fight with others doesn’t mean that you are a coward. It only means that you don’t like hurting others.”
The Lion (and Hoss) thought for a moment.
Naturally, each one of the Cartwright sons knew that their father had done a little bit of changing to this classic story to fit the occasion. But they also knew that it went without saying. They had each learned something that day about themselves. Once again the wise ‘wizard’ of a man Ben Cartwright was had found a way slip a small meaning behind something like a reading of a tale about a Tin Man, a Scarecrow, and a Lion.
“Boys, we’d best get home or else St. Nicholas is gonna pass by the Ponderosa.”
The Cartwright Sons smiled.
THE END Merry Christmas to all!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Other Stories by this Author
- Adam and Ruth – #2 – The Darker Side of the Moon (by Bonanzaluver)
- Ghost of Cartwrights Past (by Bonanzaluver)
- The House on Kay Street (by Bonanzaluver)
- Adam and Ruth – #3 – In a Time of Miracles (by Bonanzaluver)
- Adam and Ruth – #1 – The Beginning (by Bonanzaluver)