Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven and its characters are the property of MGM, Trilogy Entertainment, the Mirisch Corporation, and the Hallmark Channel.
"Vin, you gonna eat?" Buck asked, noticing that the seven year old had yet to take one bite of the food on his plate.
Vin fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat for a moment, then said, "We can't eat yet." He quickly darted a look at the younger boy across the table, including him in the "we."
"Why not, Junior?" Buck asked, his mashed potato laden fork half-way to his mouth.
"Mrs. Roquette said we're s'pposed t' say things we're thankful for b'fore we eat."
Wiping away his milk mustache with one hand, JD returned his glass of milk to the table top with a sound thud and small splash. "Oh, yeah, I forgot."
"We can do that, right, Chris?" Buck asked, lowering his fork to his plate and using JD's napkin to mop up the spill.
"Sure," the older man responded, nodding reassuringly at his son.
"How 'bout I go first," Buck offered. He nodded at the feast residing on the table in front of them. "I'm thankful for all this good food, especially these mashed potatoes."
"Me, too," JD exclaimed, sticking one finger into his gravy covered potatoes and raising it to his lips.
"I'm thankful for friends and family," Chris said without any prompting, a peaceful expression on his face as he surveyed those around him.
"Me, too," JD agreed, bouncing in his seat and knocking a spoon to the floor with a clatter.
"Vin?" Buck encouraged, handing JD another napkin and picking up the spoon. "What are you thankful for?"
"'M dad," Vin whispered after a minute's hesitation, darting a shy smile in his father's direction, who quickly returned his smile.
"Me, too," JD repeated for the third time, laughing as Buck reached over to ruffle his dark locks.
As JD took a deep breath in preparation, Chris and Buck exchanged a grin, fully expecting the small boy to name everything and everyone in and out of his sight.
To their surprise and amusement, JD spread his arms out wide, and with a smile that seemed to stretch from ear to ear, declared dramatically, "Everything!"
The two men burst out laughing. "Everything, huh?" Buck asked.
"Yep," JD confirmed, "I gots lots of thanksfuls, like you 'n Chris 'n Vin 'n Unca' Ezra 'n Unca' J'siah 'n Unca' Nathan-"
"'n Aunt Raine 'n Mrs. Potter 'n Mrs. Wells 'n Ringo 'n Elvis-"
"'n Torka 'n my toys 'n my books 'n my bed-"
"'n my school 'n my cars 'n my crayons 'n my-"
"JD!!!" called three voices in unison.
"'n lots of other stuff," JD quickly finished.
"Can we eat now?" Vin asked plaintively, just as his stomach rumbled so loudly it echoed through the room.
"Woo hoo! That's one hungry tummy!" Buck laughed, his eyes twinkling. "Or maybe you've just got a hungry bear inside there."
"That's not a bear," JD protested.
"It isn't? Sure sounded like one to me." Buck reached over and poked at Vin's stomach with one finger. "What do you think, Junior?"
Vin laughed and squirmed away from Buck's tickling. "I'm just hungry."
"In that case," Chris said, "I think we'd better start eating now!"
"Yay!" the two children shouted.
"Okay, boys," Buck said, picking up his fork and positioning it over his food. "Are you ready?" He waited until Chris, Vin, and JD followed his example, then yelled, "On your mark, get set, dig in!"