Six year-old Andi lay in her bed thinking about Thanksgiving. The month of November was passing quickly and Thanksgiving was today! This year’s big events were planned and the Carters were having a fun party by themselves on the ranch. Andi got up quickly, dressed, and made her way to the breakfast table cheerfully.
Justin smiled, “Good morning Andi, how are you?”
Andi shoveled bacon onto her plate, “Fine.”
Andi shoved the plate over to Mitch and dug her fork into a slice of bacon, “Are we going to have turkey this year?”
Mitch received the plate and took off his own slices, “I hope so; turkey is delicious.”
Justin nodded, “The whole family will head into town to find some pumpkins and other supplies for the celebration.”
After lunch that afternoon, the Carters piled into the wagon and took off to town. While Mother and Melinda were going into Goodwin’s mercantile, Andi went with her brothers to a small pumpkin patch behind the store. When they got to the back, Andi gasped at all the small, large, big, round, oval, and all different shapes and sizes of pumpkins that surrounded her on all sides.
“Justin, look!” Andi pulled at Justin’s sleeve.
Justin grinned, “Yes Andi, I see.”
“Can we pick one?” Andi asked.
“Of course, that’s why we’re here,” Justin walked over to a large pumpkin and squatted down next to it.
He inspected it for holes or cracks and when he found a defect, moved on to inspect another. Andi leaped forward and grasped a huge pumpkin, knocking it on the side. A sloshing noise satisfied Andi and she knocked again.
Mitch walked over and pulled Andi to her feet, “Come here Andi and see what Justin has.”
Andi walked along beside Mitch and almost leaped into his arms with surprise. There right before her eyes, sat the biggest pumpkin that she thought for sure must be the largest pumpkin ever seen.
Justin smiled and pulled her down beside him, “Looky here, Andi. Isn’t this a huge pumpkin?”
Andi nodded, eyes wide, “It… it’s huge!”
“Yeah,” Chad said approaching the pumpkin with a smile.
“Chad, go get Mother from the store please,” Justin said.
“Be right back,” Chad walked toward the shop.
When Chad returned with Mother and Melinda, they stared at the large pumpkin for what seemed like minutes before Mother spoke.
“Do you want this one children?” Mother gestured to the pumpkin.
“Oh yes Mother!” Andi jumped up and down.
“If it’s alright Mother,” Justin replied in a calmer tone.
Mother nodded in reply, “Of course. I’ll be back in the shop if you need me.”
Justin and Chad gathered around the pumpkin and counted to three as they prepared to lift it up together. When the boys got it to the wagon, they placed it in with great care. Soon, Mother returned from making their purchases in the store and they headed back home.
Luisa started immediately on making the large Thanksgiving dinner for the family. Outside, the Carter brothers were preparing for the slaughter of the Thanksgiving meal. Justin prepared his knife for the butcher while Chad and Mitch tried to catch the turkey. As Mitch and Chad were just rounding the hen house, determinedly dashing after the turkey, Henry the Eighth strutted around the house and clucked loudly. The pesky chicken seemed to be up to his usual vengeful ways. Chad and Mitch quickly made their way around Henry and caught the turkey. Just then, Henry the Eighth charged and caught Chad’s arm.
“Yow!!!” Chad yelled and kicked fiercely at the bird.
Henry flew back a few feet and landed hard on the ground. He recovered and crowed.
Mitch whistled and called, “Prince! Here boy!”
A loud barking came from the barn and the tan dog came bounding towards Mitch.
Mitch pointed at Henry, “Get him Prince!”
Prince dove at the bird and after a brief struggle, Prince trotted over with Henry in his mouth. Mitch patted Prince and took Henry. The Carter brothers returned to where Justin stood, butchering knife in hand, panting as they went.
Justin laughed, “You fellows run around for awhile?”
Chad handed the turkey to Mitch and showed his fresh scar from Henry “Henry got m’ arm.”
Justin’s smiled ceased and he checked out Chad’s arm, but Chad insisted, “It’s nothin’.”
“No,” Justin shook his head, “Mother might need to check it out.”
“Fine, fine,” Chad grumbled as he turned and walked to the house.
“We got ol’ Henry too,” Mitch called from a few paces away.
After Mitch explained the whole incident, Justin continued with the work to butch the turkey.
Mitch looked at Andi and winked, “Justin and I have to take this turkey away so it can be on our plates tonight.”
Andi gasped, “On our plates!?”
Justin came over to Andi and knelt down in front of her, “Yes, Andi. Remember, we eat the turkey, just like we eat eggs for breakfast.”
“Oh,” Andi said thoughtfully.
Justin patted Andi’s shoulder, “You know your brother Mitch loves turkey at Thanksgiving, so do Chad and I.”
Andi watched her brothers carry the large bird, and Henry, away knowing it would not be seen again. The Carter brothers took the turkey and dead Henry back to the house to prepare for baking. Soon Luisa came out and took the turkey and Henry inside.
Andi turned to Justin and asked, “Justin? How does Luisa make the turkey?”
Justin chuckled and ruffled Andi’s hair, “How about you go find out sis!”
Andi was about to dash in the house when she asked Justin, “Will she cut the turkey?”
“Well, yes…” Justin started to say.
“Course she will!” Mitch said grinning.
Andi shuddered, “I don’t want to go in.”
Justin winked, “That’s okay, hon.”
After a brief pause, Justin exclaimed, “Hey! Do you want to go to the barn and wish the horses a Happy Thanksgiving?”
Andi jumped up and giggled, “Oh yes please!”
Justin grabbed Andi’s hand and both raced to the barn. After Justin pushed the barn door open, Andi went to Taffy’s stall.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Taffy!” Andi hugged Taffy’s neck.
Taffy nickered and pushed her nose against Andi’s head. Andi giggled and pushed Taffy’s nose away.
After slipping a sugar cube into Taffy’s mouth, Andi went out of the stall to find Coco. Coco was prancing in his stall and whinnying. Andi gave him a sugar cube too.
“Hey, Andi,” Justin called from across the barn, “do you want to help me give the horses their hay for today?”
“Oh yes, Justin!” Andi stumbled quickly out of Coco’s stall and grabbed a pitchfork like Chad did when he always fed the horses.
“Ho there, girl!” Justin grabbed the pitchfork from Andi before it fell to the ground, “no need to use that. Just grab an armful and drop it into each of the horse’s stalls, okay?”
Andi nodded and took up a huge armful and dropped it into Sky’s stall, “Is that enough?” she asked.
Justin nodded. After feeding all the horses, Andi and Justin went back to the house. When they got there, Mother came out and told them that dinner was almost ready.
“Andi, go up to your room and change into the dress I put on your bed,” Mother instructed.
Andi ran up the stairs and into her room. She changed into her orange dress lying on her bed and went back out to the staircase. As she was about to go down, she thought, Nobody’s around. One… two… three! Andi felt herself plummet down the banister and hit the floor. Justin came around the corner.
“Andi, I thought I heard a thud, is everything okay?” Justin asked. “You slid down the banister?” Justin asked in a low whisper when Andi didn’t reply.
Andi laughed nervously and nodded.
Justin took Andi’s hand and led her into the dining room.
“Is everything okay Justin? You said you heard a mysterious thud,” Mitch said with a twinkle in his eye.
“Oh everything’s okay Mitch. It’s just a little girl mischievously sliding down banisters.” Justin grinned as he sat down.
Mother called for silence a moment later and asked Justin to bless the food. After the blessing, Chad immediately reached for the turkey plate and sliced himself a juicy piece. He bit into it with great expectations and his mouth puckered for a moment.
Mother saw this and asked, “Is something wrong in the food Chad?”
“Mother,” Chad said, startled, “Is this the turkey?”
Mother almost laughed, “Why no, son. That’s Henry, the rooster.”
Chad stared at his plate for a moment and asked, “Um, can someone pass the real turkey?”
Andi heard Mother say something about Henry and looked up, “Where’s Henry?”
Chad grinned, “Right there Andi. This is the first year he’s joined us.”
Andi gasped, horrified. Justin quickly explained that Luisa, the housekeeper and cook, had baked and stuffed Henry this year as well as the turkey. Andi understood this time. Andi enjoyed having turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, leftover bacon from that morning, and peas. When Mitch passed the chicken down to Andi, Andi shook her head.
“I… I don’t want to eat Henry.” Andi said simply.
She was about to pass the plate when Justin took off a tiny piece and said, “Just try a little piece Andi.”
Andi reluctantly put the piece in her mouth and her eyes popped wide.
“Yum!” Andi exclaimed and asked Justin to give her more chicken.
After the meal, Mother asked, “Now I want everyone to share a thing they are thankful for, starting with you Justin and going down the line by age.”
“I’m thankful for a place to live.” Justin said.
Then Chad said, “A horse and a barn.”
After Mitch and Melinda had gone, Mitch asked, “Now what’s yours Andi?”
Andi thought for a minute, and then said, “I’m thankful for no more Henry the Eighths.”
Laughter exploded all around the table.
It was a happy Thanksgiving for the Carters.