The Wild Bunch gathered at the Larabee 7 for Thanksgiving celebration. This year the family dinner was being held at the newly constructed Dunne home. Hosting the dinner was a big undertaking for JD, but with Tess’s help, he was definitely up for the challenge. The two of them had decorated the Dunne house festively with fall foliage and craft projects that Tess’s daughter, Keira, and JD’s three kids had created, along with the rest of the Reins of Change daycare children.
The majority of the cooking was done by the Wild Bunch women, who would all bring their contributions to the Dunne home for the meal, but the baking of the turkey was left to JD to prepare. He had eagerly taken on the challenge of proving to his brothers that he was capable of cooking a turkey to rival any of theirs.
Over the past few days, each of his brothers had called to give him advice about cooking a perfect turkey, which had included anything from basting the turkey with butter, packing it with fruit so that it stayed moist while it cooked, to how to test to see if the bird was done. He had taken their advice and good-natured teasing about what they’d do to him if he served them a dry, undercooked, or burnt turkey on Thanksgiving with a grain of salt.
On the big day, JD woke up at six am to put the turkey in the oven. He had already thawed out, washed, and prepared it the night before. As soon as the oven was preheated to the right temperature; he placed it in the oven, and headed back to bed.
He slept for another hour before the sound of JJ’s voice over the monitor awakened him. He took care of his own hygenial business first, before going into his son’s bedroom. JD pulled his smiling son out of his bed, dressed him in play clothes until closer to the time when they’d be expecting the rest of the family, and headed into the kitchen. He deposited JJ into his high chair at the table, sliced up a banana, poured some juice into a sippy cup and gave both to his son, before he basted the turkey, and then started the coffeepot going.
Lilah and Daisy joined them a short time later. JD had just finished making breakfast for them when someone knocked on his door. He left the twins and JJ eating their pancakes while he went to answer it.
Tess and Keira stood on the porch smiling at him. Tess held a couple of dishes in her hands.
“Me’s here, JD.” Keira exclaimed.
“I see that. JJ and the girls are in the kitchen eating pancakes. Why don’t you go visit with them. Your mom and I will be in there in a couple of minutes.”
“Okay.” Tess appraised JD’s appearance with an amused expression on her face. He was dressed in a rumpled t-shirt and cotton pajama bottoms. His dark hair was rumpled and he was barefoot. He looked adorable, but she wasn’t about to tell him that. “I hope you aren’t planning on wearing that get up, John Daniel.”
“Are you here to give me fashion advice or help me finish setting up for everyone?” JD asked.
“The latter.” Tess said. I made a couple of dishes to contribute to dinner, my grandma’s cinnamon raisin bread pudding and my Broccoli Cheddar Pasta Salad. The bread pudding needs to be heated up before we serve it and my salad needs to go into the refrigerator until we eat.”
JD’s stomach rumbled and Tess laughed. He grinned at her. “I can’t wait to try them.”
“Hands off until dinner.” Tess told him as the two headed into the kitchen.
While Tess put the salad and bread pudding in the fridge, JD sat down at the table to eat his own breakfast. Tess declined any because she had already eaten, but cut up a pancake for Keira so she would not feel left out. Once breakfast was over and the dishes done, he sent the children into their rooms to play, while he and Tess finished preparations for his family’s arrival. The adults would sit together at a large table, while the children would be placed around two smaller ones. He had a cooler loaded with soft drinks and beer.
He let Tess and Keira use his bedroom and bathroom to get ready for the festivities, while he readied his children. When Tess was finished, he left their children in her care, while he dressed.
Noon neared and JD found that he was quite pleased with himself. The turkey was golden and juicy, and he couldn’t wait until it was time for them to eat. His brothers were going to be impressed with his culinary talents.
The Larabees and Kerr’s were the first to arrive at the Dunne’s.
“Something smells good, JD.” Chris said as he, Cait, Jesse, Donald, and Lillian entered the house. He carried Cody in his arms, while Jesse held Grace’s hand. The other adults’ hands were full of covered dishes.
“I didn’t burn it.” JD assured him with a grin. He turned to Cait. “I don’t think there’s going to be room for all the food on the dining room table, so I placed a cloth over the sidebar and we can use the breakfast nook as well.”
Cait and Lillian headed for the dining room, with Donald following behind them.
“Jesse, will you take Cody and Grace into the twins’ room?” JD asked.
“Sure.” Jesse took his younger brother from Chris and headed for Lilah and Daisy’s room, towing Grace along with him.
“You’ve got a good boy there, Chris.”
No sooner had Chris commented, than the doorbell rang, announcing the arrival of more family members. Soon everyone had arrived and everyone was seated around the dining room table, and the two smaller ones that JD had set up for the children.
The moment had finally arrives when JD was ready to present the turkey. He carried the golden bird out into the dining room and a smile lit his face as he listened to the chorused exclamations from his assorted family members as they showed their appreciation for the wonderful job he had done on cooking the star entrée for their holiday meal.
JD was pleased that they approved of his efforts. “Before we cut into the bird and eat, I’d like us to think a moment about what we’re all thankful for this year. When we’re done, Josiah would you say the blessing?”
“Certainly, brother,” Josiah replied.
After the moment was up, one by one, everyone at the table listed something that they were thankful for. ‘Family’, ‘friendship’, ‘love’, ran a theme among the brothers, their wives, and the assorted family members gathered. When everyone was finished, JD nodded to Josiah.
The eldest brother stood up and waited while everyone joined hands and bowed their heads before he began, “Dear Father in Heaven, we humbly thank you for your continued blessing on this family. We ask that you bless this food we are about to eat. May it strengthen and nurture our bodies. Amen.”
There was a chorus of ‘Amens’ before the family settled down to enjoy the meal. Laughter and love abounded in the Dunne home as the Wild Bunch enjoyed Thanksgiving.
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