Give Thanks

Gonna be a penthouse pauper
Gonna be a millionare
I’m gonna be a real fast talker
And have me a love affair

Gotta get my timin’ right
It’s a test that I gotta pass
I’ll chase you all the way to stairway, honey
Kiss your sassafrass

“Bobby Belden!” Regan raised his voice, as he heard the teenager singing along with the radio. “You know you’re not supposed to listen to that music! We’ve already been through this!”

Thirteen year old Bobby had the grace to look sheepish. “I know, but everyone else listens to it!”

Regan groaned. “I’m sorry, but you’re not everyone else. There’s too much in those songs that no one needs to hear, let alone anyone your age!”

“This one’s not bad, honest!” Bobby protested. Seeing the look that Regan gave him, he amended his statement. “Well, at least it’s not as bad as the one singing about cheesecake.”

“Cheesecake?” Regan asked dryly. “Do I even want to know?”

“You know, the one where they’re singing, ‘Cheesecake, cheesecake, It’s just sex on a plate.'”

“Bobby!” Trixie exclaimed.

“Well, he asked!” the teenager retorted. “Anyway, I’ve only heard that song once, and I did change the station after the first verse.”

Regan shook his head, the corners of his mouth twitching. He sternly said, “Don’t you dare let me catch you listening to that one!”

“Does that mean I can listen to this one, then?” he asked hopefully.

“No!” Regan clarified. “I want none of that so-called music in this house. Understand?”

Bobby nodded. “Yes, sir,” he answered, turning the radio dial back to the country station that his brother-in-law preferred. “What time is everyone coming?”

Trixie glanced at the clock. “Probably in about two hours. Although Mart’s probably going to be early, he claims it’s not Thanksgiving unless he smells the turkey roasting.”

Bobby snorted. “Figures,” he nodded sagely, before leaving the room. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Regan turned to Trixie, obviously startled to see the tears in her eyes. “Sweetie, are you all right?”

“Yes,” she tried to assure him. “I just can’t believe you two are arguing.”

“Trixie, I don’t want to upset you, but he knows he has rules to follow.”

“I know. It’s just that…” she trailed off as her husband interrupted.

“He’s just testing us to see if what we’re going to do. All teenagers go through that.”

“I know,” she said, finally smiling.

“And we have to be firm with him, just like we are with our own children.”

“I know,” she answered, “but don’t you see? He is testing us! That means he feels comfortable here! He’s finally starting to act like himself again!”

Regan wrapped her in his arms. “Thanks to you, sweetie. That talk you had with him really made a big difference.”

Sadness crossed her face as she remembered the prompting for that discussion. “I still can’t believe that he thought we would make him leave if he got in trouble.”

“Sweetie, he was hurting. He’s been through a great deal, just like we all have. Just be thankful, he’s really come a long way the past few weeks.”

She smiled. “I am thankful. And just think, our whole family is actually going to be together for Thanksgiving! Speaking of which, I’ve got to get busy!”

He gave her a final squeeze, reluctantly letting go of her. “I hope this isn’t too much for you, considering….”

“No, I’ll be fine, I’m sure. Between Dan watching Bekah and Billy, and Hallie taking over Uncle Andrew’s kitchen, everything’s under control. Besides,” she blushed, “I came to the conclusion that if I wait for a year that I’m either not expecting or don’t have a newborn, I may never have Thanksgiving here! Hallie’s cooking most of the foods that would make me queasy anyway.”

Regan laughed. “Do you still want to make the announcement today?”

“I think we need to. It’s not like it’s going to be a complete surprise, but if we wait much longer, especially since I don’t want to take any attention away from Hallie next month, it will be so obvious there won’t be a need to tell anyone,” her blue eyes twinkled at him. “What do you think?”

He chuckled. “I think I’m just thankful that you’re my wife.”

She gently kissed him. “And I’m thankful that you’re my husband.”

“I know you told me not to bring anything, but I can’t imagine Thanksgiving without doing some cooking!” Helen Belden smiled weakly, motioning to the pecan pies Peter was carrying.

“Thanks, Moms! You know, I still can’t make a pecan pie turn out right, even though I do it exactly the way you always did! I guess I just don’t have that special touch you do,” Trixie replied, trying to set her mother at ease.

“It’s not you, Trixie,” Peter assured her. “No one could ever make them as good as she does.”

Trixie laughed, saying ruefully, “I know! Just set them down on that table with the rest of the desserts. Mart’s going to be ecstatic!”

Amid the awkward laughter, Helen suddenly cried out, “Bobby! Oh, my baby!” and rushed towards him. “I can’t believe how much you’ve grown!”

“Two inches in the past two weeks,” he said, gently disentangling himself from her smothering embrace. Kissing her cheek, he said, “If I keep this up, I may wind up taller than Brian.”

“You probably will,” she answered, her eyes starting to mist. “I’ve missed you so much!”

He nodded, stiffly saying, “I miss you, too. I’m glad you’re home now.”

“Not for long, I’m afraid,” she said softly, wiping her eyes. “I have to go back tomorrow, but Dr. McCoy said I’ll get to come home for good in three weeks.”

“Moms, let me show you the rest of the house,” Trixie interrupted.

“I’d love to see it!” Helen exclaimed, the smile back on her face. “And just where are my grandchildren?”

“With Dan at Uncle Andrew’s right now. They’re supposed to be here any minute now.”

“Oh, I assumed they would be with Regan. Speaking of which, where is he?” Helen asked Trixie.

Bobby chuckled. “He’s out back. He took one look at the woodpile this morning, and decided he’d better chop some more before everyone gets here.”

“Son, why aren’t you the one out there doing it?” Peter asked, eyeing him warily.

“Uh, Dad? Would you trust me with an axe?” he replied, his face the very picture of innocence.

“Oh.” Peter said, starting to grin.

“Yeah, Dad,” Trixie teased, leading her mother from the room. “He’s almost as graceful as I was at his age! And that’s saying a lot!”

“What’s saying a lot?” Regan asked, stepping through the kitchen door. He removed his gloves, holding his hands over the heater.

Red-faced, the teenager joined in the laughter as Trixie called back, “Bobby’s legendary clumsiness!”

“I just don’t understand where in the world they got it!” Peter exclaimed, as Bobby went to answer a knock on the door. “It certainly didn’t come from my side of the family!”

Regan grinned. “I just hope Trixie doesn’t pass it on to our children!” He turned to the smiling group that entered the kitchen. “Speaking of children, Dan, why is my daughter wearing only one sock?”

Dan groaned, as Peter started to laugh. “Because she keeps taking them off! I swear I’ve put that child’s shoes on her ten times, but as soon as I put one of them on, she’s got the other one off!”

“You should have seen it!” Hallie giggled. “A six-foot tall policeman, in full uniform, trying to get a two year old to keep her shoes on! He even tried to bribe her with an Ernie doll!”

“You didn’t!” Regan exclaimed, pretending to be shocked. “Hallie, did you get a picture?”

“I did!” Andrew reached into his pocket. He pulled out an Polaroid snapshot, saying, “I even brought it with me!”

“Bobby! Go open the door, your brothers are here,” Peter commanded, glancing out the window. “Dan, why are you in uniform? Aren’t you off today?”

“No, sir, I have to go in this afternoon. Since I’m going to be gone both Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, I couldn’t get today completely off.” He smiled, “Sgt. Molinson’s not too happy about the timing, but considering that it’s going to be the first real time off I’ve had since I joined the force, he couldn’t refuse.”

“Brian Belden, it’s not that funny!” they heard Honey protesting, as she followed the rest into the now crowded kitchen. “Although if you keep this up, I might have a use for it!”

“Yes, it is!” Mart interjected. “The idea of Honey Wheeler using a dating service is hilarious!”

“What’s going on?” Hallie inquired. “Are you getting tired of my cousin?”

“Yes!” Honey laughed, her twinkling eyes letting them know that she was teasing. “He’s been horrible ever since he saw the letter I got in the mail yesterday!”

“Ooh! Mysterious letter? Do tell!” Trixie exclaimed, coming to a stop in the doorway. “Then all of you men get out of my kitchen!”

“Oh, it was really just an advertisement, but it had my name on it, for some odd reason, not just the ‘Resident’ that ads usually have. And for some reason they all find it funny!”

“Well, who wouldn’t think a letter that says, ‘Madeleine Wheeler, are you single? Looking for love in all the wrong places? Let us help!’ is funny?” Brian asked her. “After all, everyone knows you’re in love with me!”

Trixie snorted. “Everyone gets those things! We got one yesterday, too! They’re just going down some mailing list, that’s all there is too it. Now, unless you men want to finish the cooking…” she trailed off, looking pointedly towards the living room. “Take Billy with you, please, Regan. He looks like he’s about to go to sleep.”

He nodded, settling the toddler against his broad shoulder. “Bekah, too?”

“Please?” she answered, even as Helen asked quietly, “Would you mind if she stays?”

Trixie smiled. “If you want her to.”

“I do,” Helen whispered, coaxing the child into her lap.

For the second time that day, Trixie blinked back tears of happiness, as Rebekah climbed into her grandmother’s lap for the very first time. The child reached up, impulsively kissing her on the cheek before throwing her chubby arms around her neck.

Before the resulting silence could become pronounced, Diana cleared her throat. “Trixie, what do you need us to do? I wish you’d have let me bring something.”

“Oh, no, everything’s under control,” she answered, rapidly blinking her eyes. “It was just way too crowded in here! Actually, the only thing we’re waiting on is the turkey, and it should be just about ready.”

“Sounds good!” Honey smiled. “Well, maybe I should say it smells good!”

“It certainly does!” Helen echoed, smiling through her own tears.

“Lord, we come before You today, to thank You for Your many blessings,” Regan prayed aloud. “We thank You for watching over us this year, for keeping Your hand upon us. We thank You most of all for bringing us together this day. Lord, we now ask You to bless this that You have provided for us. For it’s in Your name we pray.”

“Amen,” everyone echoed.

“Let’s eat!” Bobby exclaimed, breaking the wistful silence that had sprung up.

“Hey, that’s my line!” Mart said, playfully swatting his brother’s shoulder.

“It’s nice to know that some things never change,” Peter said dryly, looking towards his children.

Helen placed her hand gently on his arm. “And some things change for the better,” she said, looking towards her son-in-law and grandchildren.

“Speaking of change,” Trixie spoke up. “I can’t think of any better time to tell you that another change is coming into our lives. Regan and I will be having another baby in June.”

Amid the calls of “Congratulations!” and “That’s wonderful!”, Helen slipped out of her chair. She embraced her daughter, unashamed of the tears flowing down her face. She whispered, “I’m so happy for you!”

They settled down to eat, their conversation focused on the expected baby. Eventually, Mart asked, “Trix? Are you still going to be able to go to Idaho next month?”

“Oh, yes!” she answered immediately. “Dr. Ferris said it will be all right, as long as I’m careful. He said if it was any later, he’d recommend staying home, but as it is, he’s not expecting any problems.”

“Thank goodness!” Hallie exclaimed. “I’d have hated to have had to find another matron of honor!”

Trixie blushed. “Oh, like you think I would willingly miss your wedding?” Her eyes twinkled as she said, “How are the plans coming, by the way?”

Hallie groaned. “Logistically, it’s a nightmare! It would make so much more sense to have it here, but Mom insists on having it at home. Honey, Di, don’t ever try to plan a wedding when you’re thousands of miles away!”

“It’s going to be worth it, though, Hallie!” Diana said. “You’ll be together, that’s all that matters.”

“She’s right, Kitten,” Dan said, kissing the top of her head. “As long as we’re together, I don’t care where we get married.”

“Thanks, guys,” she said. “It’s just so overwhelming, but I know it will all work out.”

“Of course it will!” Trixie assured her. “It’s going to be wonderful, you’ll see.”

“What about our bridesmaids gowns?” Honey asked. “What are they like? I mean, I know you told me they have empire waists, but what color did you decide on?”

“Well, originally, I decided not to do traditional Christmas colors, even though it’s scheduled for Christmas Eve,” she laughed, “but I changed my mind after looking at some yellow gowns. They were beautiful, but every time I looked at them, I couldn’t help but think of that old Cinderella rhyme. So I finally decided on burgundy, with the decorations in deep green.”

“Ooh! That sounds pretty,” Di exclaimed, as Honey looked puzzled.

“Cinderella rhyme? Do you mean the fairy tale?”

“No,” Hallie said slowly. “You never did that old jump-rope chant?”

Honey shook her head. Trixie, Diana, and Hallie simultaneously began reciting, “Cinderella, dressed in yellow, went upstairs to kiss her fellow. Made a mistake, and kissed a snake, how many doctors did it take?”

Everyone burst into laughter when Honey wrinkled her nose and said, “Yuck!”

After everyone had gone that evening, Trixie sat down with Rebekah and Billy as Regan and Bobby got the Christmas decorations from the attic. Picking up the newspaper, she glanced through the sales papers, not really seeing what she was reading. Instead, she reflected on how much observing and creating family traditions meant, not only to her, but to Regan as well. This would be the first Christmas that Rebekah was really aware of what was going on, so they had decided to make it as special as possible. This included hanging decorations on Thanksgiving night.

Lost in thought, she barely noticed as Bobby came down the stairs, carrying a manger scene. He set it down, snatching the newspaper from the sofa next to her.

“Wow, did you see this, Trixie?” he asked, pointing to an item on the front page.

“No, what is it?” she asked, reluctantly pulling her thoughts back to the present.

“Remember the pageant I was telling you Di’s sisters want to be in in a few years?” he asked, not waiting for a response. “This year’s was held last week, and just look at the winner! Isn’t she beautiful?”

Stunned by her brother’s obvious interest in a girl he would most likely never meet, she said, “Do you know her?”

“No, but just look at her! Noel Wiseman, the new Miss Junior New York! She looks even better than Sally!” he exclaimed, reluctantly putting down the newspaper. He headed for the door, then turned back. “Um, Trixie?” he asked hesitantly, “would you mind if I keep that article?”

“No, go ahead. I’ll make sure to save it for you,” she answered, remembering her own celebrity crushes when she was his age.

Minutes later, as Bobby helped Regan hang the lights, Billy snuggled on her shoulder while Rebekah gleefully played in the newly fallen snow. When the lights were finished, and the power turned on to light them up, Regan reached for her free hand, taking Rebekah’s in his other. Bobby put his arm around his sister, making the little family complete.

A star shot across the night sky, adding to the beauty of the light display. Rejoicing in the feeling of togetherness, Trixie couldn’t help but think about the hard times they had had and the difficult times she knew would come. “But right now, everything’s perfectly perfect!” she thought, perfectly content in the bosom of her family.

Author’s Notes: This story was my submission for Jixemitri’s CWP #4. Required elements include: taking place on a holiday between November 1 and January 1, Aerosmith’s Love in an Elevator, a kiss by mistake, a single sock, someone hanging decorations, a shooting star, someone other than Dan chopping wood, an “Are you single?” dating solicitation, cheesecake referred to as “sex on a plate,” another author’s created character, and a carry-over item from a previous CWP (a Sesame Street character from CWP #1). Thanks go to Meagan for lending me her wonderful character, Noel, and to Cyndi for editing.