by Sue M
AU: Little Britches ATF – Little Ambassadors Series
Disclaimer: Not mine, never were, never will be.
Note: My deepest thanks to Nancy, Lyn, Lisa, and Angie for sharing their Thanksgiving traditions with me and enhancing my research, and limited knowledge of the occasion.
Thanks also to Nancy and Katy for checking this over, and to Katy for the awesome accompanying collage.
November was turning out to be quite a month for the little family from Denver. It had been hectic enough celebrating Bonfire Night, and Remembrance Day, and preparing for the approaching Thanksgiving Holiday, but there was one more UK tradition to immerse themselves in.
Children in Need.
A huge charity occasion which, with many of the country's schools, businesses, and others' involvement, usually meant a day of dressing up, or performing an event that brought in sums of money to donate to the cause.
The boys' school decided to have a back-to-front day, and not only did all the children and teachers dutifully wear their uniforms and clothes backwards for the day, but any parents or guardians dropping children off had to participate also.
Heavy fines were enforced for those not participating (£I for the kids, and anything they cared to offer for the adults), and those participating, had to pay no less than 50p for the pleasure of taking part.
On the morning of the 18th, the boys insisted their fathers wore their uniforms backwards, too, which they did, until the boys left, and then hastily changed before haring off to catch their train.
Adults were also asked to provide donations of cakes for a bake sale, and Ieuan saved the day by baking cupcakes for the occasion. Of course, as JD quite rightly pointed out, they had to be tested before the event...just to be sure they made the cut...which they inevitably did; minus two more that very morning, followed by a hasty monetary donation from the dads to make up the loss.
The fun day, culminating in a telethon that evening had been a great way to take the boys' minds off the upcoming American holiday for a while, and the school successfully raised over £1200 toward the popular charity.
Also that Friday, and after their shift, Chris and Buck's supervisors authorized leave in order for them to celebrate one of the most important dates of the US calendar. Finally, when the boys' teacher kindly set time aside to explain Thanksgiving to their classmates, before telling the little ones they would not have to come to school after they left on Tuesday until the following Monday, the little family began excitedly plotting, planning, and preparing for their first ever Thanksgiving away from home.
The earlier celebration in school, of Harvest Festival, had also prompted the boys to think about the upcoming Thanksgiving festivities. Halloween's approach had caused the first real pangs of homesickness, but between wonderful friends, a visit from Uncle Nathan, and Bonfire Night, they were easily distracted. Children in Need day had been another useful diversion, and also boosted the little ones' yo-yoing dispositions, as did having their fathers transporting them to school for two days. Ieuan knew the boys adored him, and loved him taking them to school every day, but was happy to stand down so he could start on his own plans for the holiday he had been asked to share with them.
Over the two days that the little ones studied, Buck and Chris were on a mission to make this holiday one to remember – aside from it being held thousands of miles away from home. Ieuan told them he promised JD that he would make a pumpkin pie, for which Buck was deeply grateful, as he feared his one-time, albeit failed attempt to make an edible pumpkin pie was about to be repeated.
One thing to cross off their checklist.
On Jane's advice, they ordered an 18lb Norfolk Black Turkey from their local butcher; who requisitioned his birds fresh from a neighbouring farmer; and which they could collect on Wednesday. They then spent time over the two days trawling stores for ingredients to make Josiah's special oyster stuffing, and all or almost every food item they would have in the States.
It hadn't been as difficult as they expected. In the UK, cranberry sauce came in jars and tins, and yams and sweet potatoes were available in lots of stores. It was locating the cans of oysters for the stuffing that took the time, but Ieuan came to their rescue with a store he had found when looking for tins of Libby's Pure Pumpkin for his pie.
A bag Nathan brought with him when he visited, had been secreted away ready for the big day, though it took Buck a day and a half to remember where he'd hidden it. Invitations had been extended, and accepted, so all that remained now was to get a few festive decorations set up, and a centrepiece for the table, and they were good to go.
Wednesday morning at around 11 a.m., Buck peeked into the den to find the dogs snoozing on the rug, while the boys worked diligently on decorations and a few other things for their big day.
“Would you guys like some milk and cookies?”
Without looking up, they both nodded; the dogs interests peeked momentarily at the ‘cookie' word, but faded on realizing said goodies were nowhere in sight.
“Yeah please, Da.”
Buck entered the room and stood and watched. Vin was making a garland of pumpkins. Scraps of orange paper surrounded the boy as he patiently threaded twine through each fat stalk. Along the line, every so often the pumpkin was a Jack ‘o Lantern; each one with a smiley face, to reflect the occasion. His fingers glistened with various colours of glitter glue, and also the end of his nose where he must have rubbed at it at some point.
The familiar sight of the tip of JD's tongue poking out in concentration made Buck smile as his attention turned to his son. No less sparkly, JD was making Thanksgiving cards for each of their invited guests, plus one each to send back home to their uncles, Gloria, Nettie, and the nice man taking care of their home and animals.
Proud as a peacock, Buck touched a hand to each industrious child's head, and went off to fulfil his earlier promise.
In the kitchen, Chris was preparing the various stuffings and vegetables to keep in the fridge until cooking time the next day. While Buck was with the boys, the turkey arrived, and on entering the kitchen, the brunet whistled through his teeth.
“Whoo-eee, that's a good-looking bird. Can't wait to taste that beauty.”
Chris looked up from his task and grinned. “Yeah, I have to agree, it looks good. Once I'm done here, I'm gonna push some butter under the skin. Should keep it nice and moist during roasting, and take off some of the basting time.” He noticed Buck preparing a tray.
“Boys okay? It's awful quiet in there.”
Pouring the milk, Buck nodded. “Yeah, they're fine. Once JD's finished, I need to get the cards he's making to the Post Office. They'll arrive late, but I won't tell the boys that. Vin's garland looks great, too.”
Chris smiled. “Good, we'll string it up later. You gonna tell them about what Nathan brought?”
With the tray in his hands, Buck turned to Chris and shook his head. “Not until tomorrow; and only then about the DVD. Hopefully, watching it will put them in the Holiday spirit, some.”
“Always worked for me,” Chris agreed, moving on from a cooling stuffing, to the turkey. Both men were a little nervous about tomorrow, but felt sure it would go well, providing all their plans fell into place.
Later, Buck made the Post Office run. Two disgruntled dogs were shut out in the hallway while, inside the dining room, and with JD ‘supervising', Chris and Vin strung up the exceptionally long garland Vin had made. They partially set the dining table, dotting around the various items the boys had worked on. Chris particularly liked their Pinecone turkey with its multi-coloured plumage. It would go well with Nathan's offerings, he decided.
While the boys bathed, Chris received an email. Excitedly he spoke to Buck, then set wheels in motion due to its content. Buck dried the boys, put them in their PJs and brought them into the den.
JD pointed. “Why's the computer on?”
Crouching down, Chris addressed them. “We have a surprise for you.” Reaching out, he moved the mouse over a symbol and clicked. Both boys squealed when the images of Gloria Potter and Nettie Wells appeared live from Nettie's home.
Gloria snorted a sob, dabbed a hanky to her eyes, then promptly waved it at the screen. “Oh, oh...there they are, there's our little treasures. Hello, darlings...hello...yoohoo...yoohoo!”
“Gloria,” Nettie mock scolded. “Get a hold of yourself. They can see you just fine.” She smiled. “Hello, boys, how are you both?”
Stepping right up to the monitor, JD jumped up and down, causing Elvis to join him and bark at the activity and familiar voices.
“Hiya! Lookit, lookit, i's Missus Potter and Missus Wells, lookit, Da...lookit, Chris!” His little fingers were entwined in Vin's shirtsleeve as the two boys stared in awe and waved crazily.
“Hullo!” Vin cried. “How are you? Are you havin' Thanksgivin' together?”
Gloria shook her head. “No, dears, we just came together to see you, and wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.” She turned to Nettie. “Isn't technology wonderful? It's like they're right there.”
Refraining from pointing out that they actually were, Nettie simply nodded. She addressed the men. “You look good. Life in the UK suits you.”
“We're doing fine, thanks,” Buck assured. “Missing home, and friends, but it's been a great experience so far. Everything okay with you?”
Gloria started crying again, and nodded. “We're all well, but everyone misses you. Watch the mail, boys, I've sent on a card from your schoolfriends and teachers. They miss you all, too.”
Vin and JD looked at each other and slapped hands to their mouths. “We forgot to send them cards,” Vin whined.
Chris placed a hand on each slender shoulder. “That's okay, send a Christmas card instead.”
The boys pondered that, then nodded.
For the next half hour the questions from the boys came thick and fast, but all too soon, it was time to say goodbye. Each boy pressed a hand to the monitor, and the ladies did likewise. With fond farewells and oodles of blown kisses, their Skype session was over.
Dinner that evening was pizza. By the time the boys ate it, they were tired, and went up to bed. Buck read a chapter from their new book, ‘The Railway Children', then said goodnight to two very sleepy, but excited children.
Thursday morning was greeted by two energized boys, and dogs. Avoiding tripping over the yapping mutts, they hurried downstairs to find their fathers already up and preparing breakfast.
“Happy Turkey Day!”
Both men turned and hugged each boy.
“Happy Thanksgiving boys,” Chris beamed.
“Happy Thanksgiving,” Buck cried. “Hope y'all are hungry.”
Taking their seats at the kitchen table, platefuls of food were arranged before the pair. One was heaped with grapes, both white and red, and strawberries. Others held waffles, and pancakes. Drinks in hand, and banishing the hopeful dogs to their baskets next to the Aga, the dads joined their sons.
Vin pretty much helped himself as and when he pleased, while Buck helped JD add syrup to the waffles and pancakes without showering himself, them, and the table in the gooey treat. They chattered about their session with Gloria and Nettie the previous night, and how the folks back home might be celebrating their day this year; and about their upcoming dinner. Eventually full as ticks, the boys asked to be excused.
“After walking the dogs, Buck's gonna set you up in the den with a DVD Nathan brought over with him. It's from Uncle Ezra, and it's a big favourite of ours.” Grinning at the squeals of excitement, Chris began clearing away, while Buck prepared himself, and them to take the dogs out. When they returned, the boys would head to the den to watch ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving'.
Sometime later, and having made sandwiches for lunch, and checked on how the turkey was doing, Chris set the timer and put it down on the countertop. Another hour before he needed to baste again. On hearing a noise behind him, he turned to find JD standing there.
“Hey, Kiddo. Your movie finished?”
JD vigorously nodded his head. “Can we play football?” he asked.
Chris stared at the little five year-old. “Football, Li'l Bit?”
“Uh huh...like Charlie Brown...only better, ‘cause he felled over when he tried to kick the ball. Could we, Chris? Could we, huh?”
“What did Buck say?”
“I didn't ask him yet.” JD cupped a hand to his mouth. “He's in the bathroom.” His hand moved over his mouth and he giggled.
Chris grinned. “Vin?”
“He said okay, if you say so.”
Scratching the side of his head, the blond pondered how they could do this. “It would have to be touch only.”
“Wha's ‘touch only'?”
“It means no tackling.”
JD's eyes lit up. “So, can we?”
Squatting down, Chris tweaked JD's nose. “Sure, I guess we could...for a little while. The vegetables are cooked, and I got an hour before I baste again and our guests arrive.” Seeing the little one's eyes glaze over and his brow furrow in confusion at his ‘spoken' thoughts, Chris chuckled and patted the boy's butt. “Go dig out the football, and I'll talk to Buck...” He barely finished his sentence before JD ‘whooped' and ran off out of the kitchen.
Standing and smiling to himself, Chris turned when the outer door opened and Ieuan stepped inside. He walked toward him and extended a hand. “Hey, welcome.”
Ieuan balanced his gifts in one hand and grasped the offered hand. “Diolchgarwch yn Hapus - Happy Thanksgiving.” He passed over a bag. “Wine and cola.” He gestured with his head at his cloth covered hand. “And here's the pumpkin pie I promised JD and Vin, and some festive cupcakes.”
Taking the offerings with a hearty ‘thank you', Chris put down the bag and snuck a peek at the pie. His grin widened. “Awesome, thank you.”
Ieuan returned the smile. “Croeso...you're welcome. I came early to offer a hand.” He glanced around. “It's awfully quiet. Where are the boys, and Buck?”
“Around. Actually, you're just in time to witness the start of a new, family tradition.”
“Uh huh...touch football.”
“Sounds like fun; and now I'm here, I can keep an eye on the turkey while you boys...err...what is it you're playing for?”
Chris laughed. “Not sure, yet. Pour a drink and make yourself at home.” He thumbed toward the stairs. “I'm just gonna head to my room and put on some sweats, okay?”
Ieuan stripped off his coat. “You carry on, I got this.” He pointed at the timer. “For the next baste?”
“Next and last,” Chris called back from the stairway.
Buck poked his head around the boys' door to see them excitedly changing into sweats and sneakers. “Hey, you guys almost ready?”
Vin nodded as he threaded a leg into his sweatpants. “Uh huh. Dad's in his room changin'. He said Ieuan's here.”
Buck smiled. “Cool. See y'all downstairs.” He moved on to Chris's room and walked in. “Knock, knock.”
Larabee was just pulling up his pants. “Jeeze, Buck, come in, why don't you?”
The brunet chuckled. “We're really doing this, huh?”
“Yup.” Chris tied his drawstring before pulling on the jersey of his adopted Broncos. “How *should* we do this?”
Buck pointed at the shirt. “Aww man, that's what I was gonna wear.”
“Too bad. Well?”
“Uh...you and Vin versus JD and me?”
Chris nodded. “Sounds good. No winners, right?”
Buck grinned. “Aww hell, no. Just good, clean, fun.”
Chris laughed as he searched for his other sneaker. “I doubt we'll be clean afterwards. Damnit, where's the other...” He barely caught the sneaker tossed at him.
Buck winked and headed out of the room. “Ooh, you slowin' up there, Stud?” He cackled as the shoe coming back barely missed him, hitting the door instead.
“Eat my dust, Pard!” Chris snorted.
Buck's distant, amused voice called back. “Is that a reflection of your how your cooking's going, Larabee?”
Chuckling, Chris hopped on one foot as he put on his footwear. “Smartass.”
The dogs obediently sat and watched while, on the large open ground next to the play area inside the walled garden, Buck and JD squared off opposite Vin and Chris. The coin toss gave Chris and Vin ends, so Buck and JD had the kick off. Ieuan raised a hand as he checked his watch.
“Okay, fifty minutes to turkey baste time...three - two - one...” he blew a whistle attached to his house keys and a bent over Buck reached through his legs and handed the ball to an excited JD. With a high-pitched squeal, the little one surprised them all by dodging Vin's tag, to continue squealing all the way past a deliberately mis-swiping Chris until he touched down.
Buck raised his hands in the air and whooped. He and JD ran to each other and fist-bumped. Buck swung the laughing little one around. “Whoo! That's my boy!” He winked at a grinning Vin and Chris and, with JD on his shoulders, walked back to the centre. Setting JD down, Buck pointed at the opposing father and son team and did a little hip-shaking dance, which JD tried to copy.
“We got you guys on the run, like the turkey, you are done!”
Chris and Vin looked at each other, shook their heads, and rolled their eyes before taking their turn to start. Chris feigned a pass, and Vin shot past Buck, and JD who seemed fascinated by something in the grass, to then catch the ball from his father before touching down. Now it was Team Larabee-Tanner's turn to do a little dance, with Buck making an over-dramatic gesture of dismay at them scoring.
Chris and Vin hi-fived and walked back to the centre for another kick-off. Ieuan blew the whistle and, ignoring the ball; Buck turned, picked up JD, and ran with him tucked under his arm.
“Daa~aa~aa~aa~aa~aa....” His voice vibrating with the movement, JD's giggles were infectious. Laughing, Vin picked up the ball and threw it at Buck's butt, hitting it dead on. The brunet stopped and turned.
“You forgot the ball, silly,” Vin grinned.
“Huh?” Looking at what was tucked under his arm, Buck faked shock as he put his son down. “Oh! Hey, Li'l Bit...what you doin' under there?”
Rosy-cheeked, and breathless, JD's wide, bright eyes looked at his father. “I's not the ball, Da!”
Buck lowered his head in shame, then shook it. “I don't know what I was thinking.”
Ieuan was laughing. It occurred to him as he did so that, while Buck was always pretty jolly, he had never seen Chris full on laugh like he was now. It suited him. He checked his watch, jolting a little when Eric said ‘hello'.
“Oh, hi there.”
The man pointed at the ongoing game. “Football or rugby?”
Ieuan grinned. “Football...Larabee-Wilmington-Tanner-Dunne, style.”
“Is the door open?” Jane asked.
Realizing the couple were laden with goodies, Ieuan nodded. “Yes. Turkey's almost done. I'll be right there.”
“Don't fret,” Jane replied, heading for the house with Eric. “Buck gave me explicit instructions on how to dress the table while the boys are occupied. Come in when you're ready.”
Howls of laughter from the ‘field' had Ieuan turn that way and grin as he watched JD clinging to Vin's waist, while the little Texan ploughed on regardless, dragging a giggling JD with him. Buck and Chris wrestled playfully for territory while their sons battled on. The researcher relaxed.
Okay, maybe another few minutes.
Smuggling the boys past the dining room and the activity within, Vin and JD shared a shower to freshen up, while Buck and Chris took quick ones consecutively. As the boys got dressed in their smart clothes, the men went down to properly greet their guests.
“Real pleased you could join us,” Buck smiled, shaking hands with Ieuan and Eric, and kissing Jane on the cheek.
“We're honoured you invited us to your special day,” Eric replied, to nods from the others.
“Jane brought apple pie, and Chocolate Devil's Food Cake to add to the dessert menu,” Ieuan told them. “But you have to see how the table looks.”
Feeling excited for the second time that day, the men followed Ieuan and Eric into the dining room. Nodding to Jane standing to one side of the table, their eyes glistened in the flickering light of numerous pillar candles, and the Indian and Pilgrim candles that Nathan had brought over and were sitting in the centre of the laden table. They stared at the bread cornucopia just off-centre, filled with various items in fall colours, and fresh fruit. Balancing it up, and next to the Pinecone Turkey centrepiece, was a large, colourful Honeycomb Turkey. Buck gasped. Chris spoke.
“Wh...where did you get that?”
“The Honeycomb Turkey?” Jane asked. “I researched Thanksgiving table decorations and made it myself. I couldn't find a cornucopia, so I baked one. I hope that's alright?”
“Alright?” Buck stuttered. “Are you kidding us? It's awesome, lady...freakin' awesome.”
All eyes turned to the little ones staring at the table before them. “Your decorations are lovely, boys,” Jane commented as she gestured toward the garlands and items they had made.
JD pointed out every table decoration, before reciting each food item; candied yams, as well as sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. Oyster stuffing, sausagemeat stuffing, and sage and onion stuffing, lay in bowls side by side; mashed potatoes were next to Jane's roast potatoes, along with honey-glazed carrots, green beans, minted peas, which the family had grown to love while in the UK, and sweetcorn.
There was cranberry sauce, and Jane hoped they would like her bread sauce, a popular accompaniment for turkey in the UK. Chris had bought a pecan pie, which sat nestled between the home-made apple, and pumpkin pies, and the chocolate Devil's cake. All that was missing was the turkey and gravy.
As Buck disappeared out of the room, and with a hand resting on each boy's head, Chris turned to Eric. “Josiah usually carves for us so we can sit with the boys. Would you do us the honour of carving this year?”
A little choked, Eric looked around at the smiling faces and nodded. “It would indeed be an honour.”
The boys had made place cards. Ieuan's was adorned with a pumpkin, Eric's with an ear of corn, and Jane's a sunflower. Buck's had a Pilgrim, and Chris's an Indian. The boys' were copies of their fathers' cards, and turkeys decorated three others that the little ones had made from habit, but which now stood on an empty end-table. Prompted by the boys, the guests opened their hand-made Thanksgiving cards depicting a glittery scene of a glued on ‘First Thanksgiving' painting, and after happy ‘thank you's', propped them up next to their name cards.
Usually, the boys would sit in the middle of their guests, but today, as usual, they were opposite each other, but at the end of the line between their fathers and the empty end-table situated at the top, and against the unoccupied edge of the main table. Before JD could ask why it was there, Buck brought in the turkey and everyone ‘oooed', appreciatively. After placing it at the other end of the table, in front of Eric, he ducked back out of the room. When Buck returned, it was with a huge jug of gravy, and the laptop. He placed the gravy jug on the feast-laden table, and the laptop on the empty table at the end.
“We gonna watch football, Da?” JD wondered.
Buck smiled at his son as he fired up the equipment. “No, not just now.”
Vin and JD exchanged looks. “We can't get the Macy's parade here, can we?” the former asked.
“’Fraid not, sorry,” Chris replied.
Both men smiled at the boys' gasps when the Skyped images of their beloved, smartly dressed uncles, who were also seated at a food-laden, Thanksgiving table, looked back at them.
“Hi guys, how are y'all doing over there?” Nathan asked.
Ezra spoke. “I see you are all looking particularly sharp, and your table is truly magnificent. I commend you on your efforts.” He grinned and introduced himself to Buck and Chris's guests. “Hello, I am Ezra Standish. Nathan you already know, and to my left is Josiah Sanchez. It's good to meet you all.” His gaze moved to the little ones. “Boys. You are both awfully quiet, are you alright?”
“Hey fellas,” Buck cut in with a grin. “Ezra...dude...lose the nightcap, I know it's only 9 a.m. in Denver, but that's overkill, man.”
The three Stateside men laughed, and Ezra gave a little bow of his head and removed his hat.
Large tears rolled down Vin's and JD's faces. JD reached out and touched the screen, sniffing and smiling when Josiah did likewise. Vin turned his liquid blue gaze to his father.
“Is this why you wanted a later dinner, Dad?”
“Yeah, you don't mind, do you?” he teased, grinning at Vin's exaggerated shake of the head.
“Your face is squishy, Unca ‘Siah,” JD said softly.
Josiah smiled. “I've lost a little weight, JD. Been working out some, and eating healthier for when I come visit you.”
Anticipating the next question of ‘when', Chris interrupted. He gestured to the smiling group. “Guys, this here is Ieuan, and Eric and Jane Green.” Each party gave a little wave.
“This is wonderful,” Jane said at last. “Isn't technology marvellous?”
“Halleluiah,” Ieuan grinned. “I've been telling her that for years. Hey there. Great to have you with us...so to speak.”
“Likewise,” Ezra replied, his gaze never wavering from between his nephews', and best friends' faces. “Boys, did you enjoy your movie earlier?”
“Yeah!” they chorused.
“Thanks Unca Ezra.”
“Thank you Uncle Ezra.”
“My pleasure. Chris, Buck; as you know I have forwarded you the Thanksgiving football schedule. State your preferred choice, and later, we will record the game, and also the Macy's parade for you to enjoy as soon as it reaches you.”
Larabee smiled. “Thanks guys, ‘preciate that. We sure will miss that tradition this year, but there are some good movies on this weekend that we can all watch together, huh boys?”
The little ones nodded.
Chris continued. “Josiah, Eric's carving this year. Would you still say the prayer for us?”
“Happy to,” the large, grinning man replied. He and Nathan each grasped one of Ezra's hands, then extended their other hands to touch their monitor. JD and Vin did the same, as each child, neighbour and father took a hand to complete the circle. Head bowed, Josiah's much missed, and deep, soothing tones led them in prayer.
“Dear Heavenly Father, We want to thank you for bringing us together on this special day. Thank you for our wonderful family that You have blessed us with. Thank You for good health, a roof over our heads, and the food we have received. Thank You for the friends who have gathered together to share this Thanksgiving Day meal with us. In your name we pray, Amen.”
“Before we eat...”
All eyes turned to Nathan.
“Shall we share what we’re thankful for?” He smiled at the nods and replies. “I'll start. I'm thankful that, no matter the distance, we're always able to talk to and visit with those we love, so...I guess I'm thankful for the technology that gives us the means to do so.”
Ezra went next. “I am thankful that Mother’s newest beau owns a particularly fine restaurant chain and that he is providing our Thanksgiving repast this day.”
Everyone laughed, even the boys.
“And for the knowledge that my most cherished people in all the world are safe and well,” the southerner finished.
Josiah sniffed. “I'm thankful that someone as special as you guys misses someone like me.”
“Every day, Pal,” Buck choked out. “All of you.”
Chris nodded, then spoke. “I'm thankful for meeting new friends who will always remain as special to us as our old friends.”
Buck bobbed his head in agreement. “I'm thankful Chris didn't burn the turkey.”
More laughter. Both boys groaned.
“Bu~ck!” they sing-songed.
Ieuan coughed. “Err, I'm thankful to have the kind of job that allowed me the luxury of being able to get to know you wonderful people.”
Jane smiled and glanced around to show her inclusion of the gathered friends. “I'm thankful that everyone I care about is safe and well, and that by Christmas, I will have met up with.”
Eric nodded at his wife, then addressed the assembled friends to add his thoughts. “I'm thankful that, in my lifetime, I've met many extraordinary and honourable people, who will remain as cherished memories for as long as God is willing to allow.”
There was a pause and all eyes turned to two very tearful little men.
“Boys, would you like to say something?” Ezra prompted as he leaned in a little to the monitor.
It took a few moments, but finally Vin spoke. “I'm thankful I can talk, see, and hear good, so's I can listen to and watch everybody I love, and that I can and tell ‘em they's special.”
JD's body shuddered with a sob and Buck looped an arm around him.
“You want to go, Li’l Bit?”
JD rubbed his eyes and nodded. He looked directly at the monitor. “I’s thankful you all still love us.” His gaze flicked to the others. “‘Cause we loves our new friends lots, but just ‘cause we's here, we haven't stopped loving you too, have we, Vin?”
Vin shook his head as he looked at the screen.
The silence was palpable, save for sniffs from both sides of the Atlantic. Josiah stood and raised a large knife. Eric did likewise and both men smiled. The former spoke.
They managed to get halfway through their meal before the Skype connection was lost. Before shutting down the laptop, Chris fired off a quick email thanking the guys for joining in, and ending with a promise to be in touch soon.
With everyone happy and replete, the table was cleared and the group retired to the living room for drinks and a few games of ‘Find the Turkey Egg'. This involved the hiding of a hard-boiled egg, and calls of ‘Turkey, Turkey', for warmer, and ‘Giblet, Giblet', for colder. It was a cunning plan to wear out the kids while the adults sat around relaxing, and directing their search efforts.
Jane then refereed teams of JD and Buck, Vin and Chris, and Eric and Ieuan in a relay game of ‘Pass the Balloon', but howls of laughter at the antics rendered them useless and the game was eventually abandoned.
Yawning boys heralded the end to a wonderful day. With hugs ‘goodbye', and ensuring they had their place cards and Thanksgiving cards with them, the guests stepped out into the crisp night air to head home.
Carrying their sons upstairs, each dad helped their boy undress and tucked them into bed. Buck leaned in and kissed JD's head.
“’Night, Baby Boy.”
Reaching out, JD hugged his father's neck and drew him in close to kiss his nose. “'Night, Da. I love you as h-i-g-h as the sky.”
Brushing back wayward tendrils of his boy's black hair, Buck fought the emotion evoked, rested his head against JD's, and smiled. “And I love you as deep as the oceans. ‘Night, Li'l Bit.”
Vin sighed with contentment as his father's strong fingers massaged his scalp. Reaching up, he stroked the comforting hand. “Can we always live together, Dad?”
“For as long as you want, Cowboy. Goodnight, I love you.”
“Love you, too.”
Both men stood and moved to the door. In the glow of the nightlight, they watched their sons drift off to sleep, before heading back downstairs.
In the kitchen, while Chris covered up and refrigerated the food, Buck made them a turkey and three-stuffing, mayo, and cranberry sauce sandwich. As they sat at the kitchen table enjoying their food with a beer and whiskey chaser, they munched contentedly.
Outside, trees swayed and their dying foliage rustled in the soft, cold wind. Looking down from its sturdy perch, an owl hooted, while a snuffling badger padded across the yard into the glow radiating from the kitchen light. Seconds later it was cast into darkness when the two men called it a day...a great day...and another cherished memory to add to their huge, mounting collection.
Continues in The Week Between
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The Railway Children
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Macy's Thanksgiving Parade - Macy's 2010 Parade (no sound)