Howdy Friends! Snow came early this year at Grandpop’s ranch. Driving up took some extra time. I wondered along the drive how Grandpop would be doing. Driving alone, my mind skipped around a bit remembering past Thanksgivings there. Most often a full house. Kid’s bouncing all over. Darting in and out the banging front door. Running to the barn to see the horses.

Mom fussing over a table that sat at least twenty.

Fires in both fireplaces.

I thought about all those years I’d gotten too busy to bother to come home. Thought about what all I’d missed. It would be dark tonight before I got there. Even without the snow.

I could see the house lights from around the last bend in the mostly straight, snow laden lane. I wondered why so few lighted windows. Figured it must be later than I realized.

Then I saw the glow in the yard between the house and barn. Fire fingers jumping up, creating a lighted window of its own in the open yard. Glowing in the snow, casting tall shadows. I saw the silhouette of only one at the fire. And a horse. That had me puzzled. I had heard Sis and her family were coming this year.

I stopped the car close to the fire. “Good lookin’ fire, Grandpop.” I offered as I approached. I thought it funny how suddenly the most important thing to me became my hope Grandpop had coffee in that old black pot. “Got coffee?”

Grandpop stood, offered his hand. “Welcome home son.” He nodded to pot. “Yup. Been boilin’ a while. Ought ‘a be thick as grease by now.” He gave a chuckle and squatted down to poke the fire. Then poured me a cup.

“I sure didn’t think I’d be the first to get here,” and I let go a chuckle of my own, and took a sip. I stepped over to Blue, scratched the tall horse’s neck while I studied if I had to chew Grandpop’s coffee or just swallow.

“Well, your sister’s flight got canceled. She’s hopin’ for Saturday now.” Aunt Jane called, she ain’t travlin’ in this weather. Just as well, we saw each other last year.” He poked the fire again, just to set up a cascade of sparks. “Aunt Jane’s one of them best served up in limited portions.”

“I was looking forward to seeing Debra. And the kids.” I hadn’t seen my sister in a year. Not since last Thanksgiving. Sure is funny how such a close outfit as ours could get so scattered. “What about Bob?”

“Bob’s still in Kentucky.” Grandpop said. “Lookin’ over some more breeding stock. Took the family with him.”

I snared a log, sat it on end and had a seat between Ol’ Blue and the fire. And chewed another sip of coffee. “What are you doing making a fire in the snow anyway? You have two perfectly fine fireplaces in the house.” I inched closer to the fire. “I’m kinda cold. I didn’t dress for an outing.”

“Yeah, I was lookin’ forward to a house full again. But since I found myself alone, I figured I’d be alone with ol’ Blue. Two old coots alone together, thinkin’ over the good times, and years. And plannin’ on a bunch more.” He shot a grin to Blue, “Blue and me spent plenty of nights alone out there around a fire over the years. Plenty of times your mother came along too. I was reminiscin’ over them. And sure lovin’ it.” Grandpop stacked a pile of split logs atop the fire.

“That’ll warm us up!” I laughed. “I was looking forward to seeing Debra and the whole family. I gotta head back Saturday.” Darn I hated to miss Debra and the kids.

The fire grabbed the new fuel, sent flames and sparks high and wide. I inched away from the flames again. Right back against Blue.

“Well, son, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks to our Heavenly Father, for all He’s blessed us with.” He chuckled again, waved his arm in a sweeping circle. “Look around us here. We’ve got plenty to be thankful for.” He paused. “When I was a young man just home from the war, and married your mother, well, we never had any idea how generous the Almighty was going to be to us.”

Grandpop got up, poked the crackling fire with his boot tip, and stood over Blue. “Sure we had our rough patches. But, nothin’ that we couldn’t ride through together. That’s how HE does it ya know. Keeps ya rooted, movin’ forward.” He dragged his hand across his mouth. “And by golly, son, that’s somethin’ we must all remember. And give thanks for all the times, good and bad. That, my boy, is Thanksgiving!”

~ Gitty up, Dutch.


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