I wrote this story with Maggie, who used to frequent the board, I'm sure some of you remember her. Anyway, I thought it would be nice to bring it over here b/c it was only posted at the old forum :)
A Thanksgiving to Remember
by Christina and Maggie
Dedicated to all our Little House friends, whom we are very thankful for! :)
“Bye, Pa!” Carrie Ingalls called gaily.
“Have a safe trip!” Laura added.
“Come back soon!” Albert exclaimed.
Baby Grace smiled and waved, and Charles Ingalls smiled back at his children.
“We love you!” That was his wife Caroline.
“I love you, too!” Charles answered. “See you Thanksgiving morning!” Charles was setting out on a hunting trip to catch a turkey for the Thanksgiving holiday.
As he set off in the cold November wind, he couldn’t help but think of how much they had to be thankful for this year. His eldest daughter, Mary, had not only married a respectable young man named Adam, but she had come home to Walnut Grove last year from the city of Winoka. His second daughter, Laura, was excelling in her studies at school and had her mind set on becoming a teacher. Laura had always been a hard worker, but lately he had gotten the sense that his little half pint, as he called her, was growing up. His other daughters, Carrie and Grace, were growing up fast as well. Carrie had always followed along behind her older sisters but she too was blossoming and finding things of her own to do. Then there was Albert, the only boy of the group. He was an orphan boy that the Ingalls family befriended in Winoka when they had gone to live with Mary. But by the time they decided to return to Walnut Grove, Albert had become family and they took him with them. Charles and Caroline had adopted the boy at the beginning of the summer and he couldn’t have been happier. Yes, Charles thought, smiling to himself, it’s going to be a fine Thanksgiving.
Albert stared dreamily out the window of the loft bedroom he shared with his sister Laura.
“What are you thinking about?” Laura asked him, from her place on the bed. They were both supposed to be doing homework.
“That I should’ve gone hunting with Pa,” Albert confessed.
“You should’ve,” Laura agreed. “You’re lucky he asked you.”
“He asked both of us,” Albert reminded her.
“Yeah, but you actually could. It wouldn’t be proper for me since I’m not a little girl anymore. I’m a woman.”
Albert turned away so she didn’t see him roll his eyes.
“Why didn’t you go?” she asked him again.
Albert shrugged. “Just didn’t feel like it.” Truth be told, he wasn’t feeling himself now that the Thanksgiving holiday was approaching.
Caroline heard a lot of talking up in the loft. She had Grace on her lap in the rocking chair by the fire, rocking very slowly.
“Laura! Albert!” she called from below.
“Yes, ma’am,” they said in unison.
“I hear a lot of talking up there. Are you getting your homework done? You’ve been up there for quite awhile,” Caroline said.
“I’m almost done, Ma,” Laura answered happily.
“Me too,” Albert answered exasperated.
“Good!” Caroline said with a sigh of relief.
Laura began to whisper to Albert. “Albert, is something wrong?” she asked in a concerned voice.
“What makes you think something’s wrong?”
“You just don’t seem like yourself today. Are you regretting not going hunting with Pa?”
“No,” he answered hesitantly. “Well.”
“Well, what? You can tell me. I won’t tell. Cross my heart and hope to die. Please tell me what’s wrong,” she pleaded.
“It’s like this Laura. I have been with all for awhile now, and you all are wonderful, but sometimes I feel just a little out of place.”
“What do you mean, Albert? Out of place?”
“Well, you all have been family for years, and you all are really blood relatives, but me, I am only adopted."
“That doesn’t matter, Albert. I consider you my whole brother, not just a half of one.”
“Really!” Albert said, a smile creeping up on his face.
“Really!” Laura reassured him. “And I know that Ma, Pa, Mary, Carrie and Grace feel the same way. We are all glad that you are a part of this family.”
That night as Albert lay in the loft trying to sleep, he thought of Laura’s words from earlier. We are all glad that you are a part of this family.
That may have been true – no, Albert knew it was true. It made him feel good to know that he was finally in a place where he would be forever, and with people who loved him. But nothing could change the fact that they had been together their entire lives practically, and he had only been there for a year and a half. They had a history together, a history of which Albert knew nothing about. It was times like these when the entire family came together and reminisced of times past that made him think about it the most.
He drifted off to sleep and awoke the next morning to Charles’ shouting, “Who wants turkey?”
”Pa’s back!” Laura exclaimed, jumping out of bed to race downstairs. Albert was slower, as he got out of bed and set at the foot on the ladder. Peering down at his family, he listened to their excited chatter.
“Oh, Charles, it’s perfect!” Caroline exclaimed.
“Turkey!” baby Grace shouted.
Charles glanced up then and saw his son by himself. “Albert, you get yourself dressed and you can help me skin this bird. Then your Ma can get to cooking it.”
”All right,” Albert agreed. Soon he joined his father outside and they worked in silence, til Charles said, “Was great weather for the trip. Almost made me glad that we don’t have a turkey farm around here.”
“Yeah.” Albert didn’t know what else to say.
“Sure wish I had some company,” Charles pressed, waiting for a response.
“I’m sorry, Pa,” Albert said. “I just…didn’t feel…”
“Didn’t feel what? What’s wrong, son? I know you ain’t been yourself lately,” Charles asked gently.
Albert thought for a moment. Should he tell his Pa? He might not understand; he had never been in that situation himself and he might say that Albert should be grateful just to be with the family now. Finally, he said, “I just didn’t feel up to going hunting. The holidays always make me feel…funny.”
”Funny? What do you mean?” Charles asked.
“It’s just…when I was alone, I hated them,” Albert said. “I was living by myself, watching everyone go by together buying presents, talking and laughing. I ate food that they threw away from their big holiday meals, and I sat there by myself. I never felt so lonely before in my life.”
Charles listened carefully. “I’m sorry you had to live that way, son. I’m glad you’re here now,” he added.
“Me too,” Albert said. “But – and I don’t know how much this is gonna make sense – but when it gets to be holiday time around here, even though I’m with you now and I love you and I know you love me, it reminds me of that time. Because you all have had all those holidays together before, and you have memories together that I’m not a part of. I don’t know…it just makes me feel…”
“Left out?” Charles offered.
“Yeah,” Albert said. “I guess.” He looked up at his father. “I’m sorry, Pa. I don’t mean to be ungrateful.”
”Hey now, that’s nonsense,” Charles said. “You’re not being ungrateful. I’m glad you told me what’s on your mind. I wouldn’t want you to be bothered by it all by yourself.” Finished with the knife, he set it down on the log where the turkey was in front of them. He draped his arm across Albert’s shoulders. “I love you, boy, and I promise you you’ll never have to feel that way again. You’re a part of our family now, and we’re making new memories everyday together.”
Albert swallowed hard to hold back the tears. How could he have ever been worried to talk to his Pa? Pa was the most understanding and fair man he knew. Maybe Thanksgiving will be all right, he thought to himself with a smile. Maybe everything will be all right.
“Anyone want some more pumpkin pie?” It was later that evening, and the Ingalls family was finishing up dinner. Caroline offered her delicious pumpkin pie around one more time, to a chorus of “No thanks” and “I’m stuffed”. She smiled and happily took the remainder of the pie back to the kitchen. She loved when the entire family was together - Mary, Adam, Laura, Carrie, Grace, Albert, Charles and herself, all snug in the little house.
When she returned to the table, she noticed Mary’s smile echoed her own. She reached out and grabbed her eldest daughter’s hand. “I’m so glad you all are here today,” she said.
Mary’s grin grew. “Me, too, Ma. And not just because it’s Thanksgiving.” She tapped her husband’s knee. “Adam?”
Adam could hardly hold back a laugh. “Don’t look at me. It’s our news, but it’s your announcement to make.” He was smiling too.
Caroline took a deep breath, hoping she would hear the words she was expecting.
“Ma, Pa, everybody,” Mary began. Then she laughed. “Me and Adam are going to have a baby.”
“Oh, Mary!” Caroline exclaimed. “How wonderful!” As everyone else congratulated the young couple, Laura said, “I love babies! Hey, Mary, remember when Carrie was born?”
”Of course I do,” Mary said. “I remember when you were born too.”
“Well, I remember Carrie. I think that might be my earliest memory,” Laura said thoughtfully. “Going with Pa to the Indian reservation and coming home, and there was another baby there with Ma.” Laura laughed. “I thought it just…appeared out of thin air or something.”
Everyone else laughed too.
“I remember leaving Kansas,” Carrie said. “I think that’s the first thing I remember.”
The family thought about that for a moment. Albert looked at his hands helplessly. He wished he could somehow share in these memories too. He wished he knew more about them. Then Pa spoke up. “Half pint, do you still have your remembrance book?”
”Of course I do, Pa. It’s up in the loft,” Laura answered.
“Why don’t you go get it?” he asked her. “That way anyone who doesn’t remember those stories can find out about them.” He winked in Albert’s direction. “And next year,” he said, looking at Mary, “We can share them with our new grandchild!”
As Laura ran off to get her book, Albert looked at his oldest sister. “Mary, I could tell the baby the stories too. They’ll be new to both of us, and we can learn together about our family.”
“I’d like that, Albert,” Mary said.
Then Albert looked at Pa. He leaned over and whispered, “Thanks.”
Charles smiled back at him. “I told you you’re a part of our memories. Happy Thanksgiving.”
”Happy Thanksgiving!” Laura returned with the book. “I can’t believe how young I was when I started writing in here!” She turned to her brother. “Look, Albert.” As Albert looked down at the page, and read of an Ingalls memory from long ago he couldn’t help but think that next year, there would be more memories to talk about, more memories to share and to tell Mary’s baby about. And he would know about them and be a part of them.
When all in the little house was finally quiet, Caroline and Charles were laying awake and talking quietly.
"Boy! What a day!" Charles said happily, as he rubbed his full stomach.
"Oh, I know," Caroline said as she took her husband by the hand. "Best of all, we are going to be Grandparents!"
"That's right, Grandma!" Charles beamed.
"I can't wait to hear you be called Grandpa!" his wife exclaimed.
"We certainly had a lot to be thankful for this year, didn't we?" Charles asked with a smile.
"We sure did!" Caroline started. "We now have a son, and we will also be Grandparents soon. I am so glad that Albert is here with us, and is a part of our family."
"Me too, darlin," Charles said as he placed a soft kiss on her lips before blowing out the lamp.
As Laura and Albert laid awake in the loft, they could not help but hear their parents talk.
"See, I told ya, Albert!" Laura reminded him.
"I know, I know!" Albert said with a smile.
"I am thankful that you are my brother, Albert," Laura said with a lot of emotion in her voice.
"And I am thankful that you are my sister," Albert said.
"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."