Prelude to Thanksgiving
Sam was glad to get the money and said it might be enough to keep McElhinney appeased for a few months while he rounds up the rest of the bribe. But he didn’t believe me when I said I had gotten the money through donations.
“So who’s your investor?”
“There’s too many to name one by one.”
His eyebrows went up. “These are some pretty big bills for a lot of little investors.”
“I went to the bank and had all the coins and small bills put into big bills so it would be less to carry around.”
“You didn’t steal it, did you?”
I wondered if he would consider it stealing if it came from someone who was dead. “Of course not. I have to live in the community, you know.”
“All right, then.” He folded the money and put it in a drawer but seemed uneasy about it. “So would you like to stay for supper? Some people from our phone company are coming over to talk strategy and it might be interesting for you.”
It was tempting, but Eli was organizing a turkey hunt and I wanted to get home, clean my guns and turn in early.
This morning those of us who were going on the hunt met at one of the barns while it was still dark. There were a lot of us and I guess I looked concerned because Lee moved in close and told me not to worry, that there would be plenty of turkeys to go around.
“Even if people from other farms are hunting, too?”
“We have an agreement during the rest of the year how many we can take so there will still be enough for everyone during the holidays.”
“I’m surprised you don’t just raise turkeys.”
“Domestic turkeys are for folks who can’t shoot wild ones,” someone said. Everyone laughed.
Lee and Eli had been scouting the surrounding wooded area for over a week and had a pretty good idea where we might find a flock. We set out and weren’t disappointed. Soon we found our flock and charged it, breaking it up so we could pick and choose our birds as they came back together. By late afternoon, we had several fat hens and a couple of jakes. Not only would we have a good Thanksgiving feast, but so would many of our poorer neighbors. Eli counted the birds, Sabine assessed the state of her pantry, and they made a decision on the spot how many extra people they could feed.
“Do you have anyone you’d like to invite?” Sabine asked me.
Of course I didn't. I suppressed a sigh and tried not to think how different this holiday would be from last year. I guess I got a little wistful because when I headed back to my room for the night, Lee chased after me.
“Don’t worry. It’ll be a fun holiday season. You’ll see.”
“I’m sure it will be.”
“As we get closer to Christmas there will be parties and caroling, and you’ll be invited to everything.”
“I guess that means I need to figure out what to do for Christmas presents.”
“We don’t do much of that. Just tokens, when we give anything at all.”
I nodded but wasn’t reassured, since presents weren’t really what was on my mind.
He grabbed my hand. “If we get snow, there’ll be sledding.” He smiled and tried to get me to look at him. “And if the snow isn’t deep enough for a sleigh ride, we’ll put the sleigh bells on our sleds and have Flecha pull us around the paddock.”
In spite of myself, I smiled. “And sing Jingle Bells, too? Come on, I’m not a kid you need to entice with promises of silly games.”
“It’s no game. It’s good clean fun.”
“I suppose it would be.” I sighed and looked out over the autumn landscape, barren and waiting for winter.
When we got to my barn, Lee grabbed my other hand so that now he held them both, and playfully backed me against a wall. “What’ve you got against fun?” He gave me a quick kiss.
I tried to move away, but was cornered. “Can’t I miss my family over the holidays? What’s wrong with that?”
He kissed me again, more seriously this time. “Nothing, except that you’re always missing someone or something. Why’d you come here, if all you’re going to do is think about how it’s not like where you’re from?”
Good question. I keep telling myself I’m committed to this place, but then I get sucked back into nostalgia. Why do I torture myself? So I let Lee kiss me some more, since that seemed harmless enough. And before long, one of the hands came to get something out of the tack room and Lee pulled away from me and went on about his business.
In the morning I’m to report to the kitchen at the main house and help with the Thanksgiving meal preparations. I’m going to work hard and savor every moment of the day. It’s going to be a fine Thanksgiving and I’m going to enjoy it with no regrets, even if it kills me.