Summary: A weather vane is the key to a small boy’s issue based on his magical thinking, but it is even more important to bringing Christmas and family back to the hardened heart of another. It’s two stories in one with the second part sandwiched around the first part, which is a prequel.
Word Count: 5,989
There was a leak in the roof of the house on the Ponderosa ranch. At first, Hoss and Joe Cartwright had been amused that their father would be so concerned over a couple of drops of water when it rained. However, as the weather turned colder and snow accumulated on the roof, the drops were nearly constant and irritating. There was a distinct wet circle developing on the ceiling that was looking rather ominous for the integrity of the roof. Despite the inhospitable weather, Hoss and Joe had to climb up on that roof to find the problem. It didn’t take long to locate the source of the water that was dripping into their house.
Over twenty-five years earlier on a Christmas Day, Ben and his oldest son, Adam, had put a weather vane on the roof. After so much time, the iron weather vane was rusting at the base rather severely and had loosened where it was fastened. Water was leaking in around that and obviously seeping down into the ceiling below and dripping into the great room. There was only one solution at that point. They had to remove the weather vane and put a patch over the spot where it had been installed. Once that was done with a good thick layer of tarpaper underneath, the leak was ended at least temporarily. Neither of them though wanted to remove that weather vane so it was with reverence they carried it to the edge of the roof and carefully lowered it down asking two of the men to help them to be sure it wasn’t damaged any further. Candy, their foreman, chuckled at their care for the old rusty weather vane.
“It looks like some amateur made it. You can get a nice one that looks a lot better than this and put it up there.”
“Nope, Candy, we’re gonna git this one fixed up and put it back up there.”
“Hoss, you’re kidding me. This piece of junk? You should melt it down and make a new one then.”
“We can’t. The man who made it ain’t here no more.”
That’s when Candy got a hint about who made it. “Your brother Adam made it and that’s why you want to keep it?”
“No, well yeah, that’s true, kinda, but there’s a whole lot more to the story. Joe, you tell stories like this better’n me. Why dontcha tell him the whole thing?”
“I suppose I could. Well, it started on a Sunday before Christmas when I was about five years old. My mother had died that year when she took a nasty fall from her horse.”
Twenty-five years earlier:
For the third meal in a row, Little Joe Cartwright refused to eat. At lunch on Sunday, Ben Cartwright thought his youngest son might be ill or coming down with something. He was concerned. However, even though he insisted that his five-year-old son take a nap, he didn’t think Little Joe had any kind of fever, and after his nap, the boy seemed fine.
At dinner, however, Little Joe once again refused to eat and gave no reason for his lack of appetite. Cajoling and tempting him with promises of a dessert did nothing. It was Sunday evening, so there was dessert, but even that didn’t sway the boy from his stubborn refusal to eat.
“Pa, I’ll eat up his piece of chicken and his dessert too ifn he don’t want it.”
“Hoss, you have had quite enough to eat. Little Joe will sit here and he will eat.”
That didn’t work either. Hours after the meal was concluded, Ben had to admit defeat and send the youngster off to bed assuming that in the morning, he would be famished and eat. Apparently he wasn’t and he didn’t. Frustrated, Ben ate his breakfast nearly sputtering with indignation at being bested so easily by such a small boy over such a simple thing. He had an important meeting to attend and couldn’t stay there to force the issue with Little Joe.
“Adam, I need to go to town. The meeting about setting up the first school is today. I have to be there. The meeting is likely to take most of the day. With the weather the way it is, I’m not sure I can make it back home today. You are in charge of the boys. I’ve already talked to the men about making sure the chores get done. There’s not that much to do. Now, Christmas is in three days. I’ll certainly be home by then. I want the decorations to be complete. You know where everything is stored and where everything should go.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll take care of that.”
“Make sure that the boys help you. I want them to be in bed at their regular time at night too. No staying up late because I may not be home.”
“I’ll make sure they get to bed on time.”
“It wouldn’t hurt to have them take a bath too.”
“I can take care of that.”
“I know I can trust you to handle things. Now, one last thing: get Little Joe to eat. He’s skipped three meals, and I don’t want him to skip any more.”
Until then, Adam was feeling good about the instructions and being in charge. That last one though, he felt was unfair. “But, Pa, you couldn’t make him eat.”
“Now, Adam, he hasn’t eaten for a full day. Surely you can get a hungry boy to eat now. It shouldn’t be that difficult for someone as smart as you. In less than six months, you plan to travel east to attend college. Certainly someone who can do that can find a way to make a five-year-old eat his lunch.”
Unable to respond to that without being disrespectful or petulant, Adam remained silent but Hoss saw that muscle in the side of his cheek working and knew he was angry. He guessed he was going to do exactly whatever Adam told him to do that morning. However he doubted that Little Joe would be that compliant. He wasn’t.
“You kin tan me. You kin yell like Pa. I ain’t eating.”
Although Adam was angry to be addressed like that, Hoss saw that he was curious too. He wanted to know why so he asked.
“Why don’t you want to eat, Little Joe?”
“I just don’t.”
Pursing his lips and frowning, Adam was quiet for a time as he finished his lunch and waited for Hoss to finish his. Then Adam went into the kitchen, and Hoss and Little Joe could hear him talking softly with Hop Sing. When he came out, Little Joe was defiant.
“I don’t care what you told Hop Sing. I don’t care what food he makes for dinner. I’m not eating it.”
“Fine. C’mon, boys, we got a tree to decorate. I’m going to get the ladder and start putting ornaments on the top branches while you two decorate the lower branches. I’ll tell you which ornaments to use.”
Surprised that Adam didn’t make a bigger issue out of his refusal to eat, Little Joe sat for a moment but stood and followed his brothers when there was nothing more said. He went along with the instructions to decorate the tree having fun pulling ornaments from the boxes and hanging them. He was getting awfully hungry, but he had a goal that was more important than food. In the middle of the afternoon, it got even more difficult though. Hop Sing brought out three plates with two cookies on each plate and the aroma made his hunger pangs that much stronger.
“I try out new kind of cookie. You try. Tell me if you like.”
Hoss and Adam took a break from working and sat by the fireplace to eat the cookies. Hoss ate his first one so fast he hardly tasted it while Adam ate his slowly. Hoss did his best to eat the second one more slowly but still finished it before Adam had finished his first one.
“These are really good. Hey, Little Joe, kin I have yours seein’ as how you ain’t eatin’ ’em?”
“Now, Hoss, that’s not right.”
“But, he ain’t eatin’ ’em, Adam.”
“I know. But we should share them. How about one for each of us?”
With a grin, Hoss agreed that was fair and took a cookie from the third plate. Adam ate his second cookie and then broke the one from the third plate and gave half of it to Hoss who grinned broadly with sugar and cookie crumbs on his lips and chin. Adam shook his head at his brother.
“You’re going to be twice as big as me someday if you keep eating like this.”
“I hope so.”
Laughing, the two went back to work as Little Joe scowled, but they seemed not to notice him at all. He trudged back to the tree looking back at the empty plates with a sad expression. If that goal of his wasn’t so important, he would gladly go ask Hop Sing if he could please have a cookie. It was so important that he had to fight those urges and keep to his tasks.
At dinner, Hop Sing put a plate of fried chicken on the table with freshly baked biscuits and a bowl of fried apples still steaming with the smell of cinnamon and brown sugar wafting from the dish. Adam and Hoss filled their plates and began eating without even offering any to Little Joe. He sat there completely ignored by his two older brothers who smacked their lips and murmured their appreciation for the delicious food with nearly every bite.
Standing then, Little Joe was furious and addressed Adam. “You’re mean. I hate you!” Then he ran up the stairs. Soon they heard the door to his room slam shut.
Hop Sing stepped from the kitchen. “First part of plan work. Now you go see if second part work.”
“What plan? I didn’t know there was a plan.” Hoss looked from Hop Sing to Adam and back again.
“That’s because I knew you’d play along without being told what to do. Now, I need to go find out what got our little brother so upset. He might be mad enough to talk to me now.”
Upstairs, Little Joe was on his bed and ready to scream in anger or to cry. He wasn’t sure which feeling was stronger but his frustration was great. When Adam came into the room, the desire to yell was the strongest and he debated whether he should yell at him or hit him or throw something at him. He expected Adam to have loud, harsh words for him and he was ready to retaliate.
“Little Joe, what’s wrong? Why are you angry at me?”
Now that kind and gentle approach confused him. He settled down a bit not knowing how to answer at first. Honesty won out. “You know I don’t want to eat, and you decided to make it harder for me to do that.”
Pleased that his plan was working, Adam continued. It was the best way to get his youngest brother to open up and tell him what had been at the root of his refusal to eat. “Pa’s not here. I thought it would be nice to have some good food for Hoss so he would be happy. It made me happy too, and Hop Sing was happy that he could please us. Now why would you be upset that we were happy?”
“You got me all mixed up now. I only don’t want to eat so I can go to heaven.”
Shocked, Adam sat on the side of the boy’s bed and reached out to take Little Joe’s hand. “You want to die?”
“No, I don’t want to die. I just want to go to heaven so I can see Mama.”
“Little Joe, what makes you think that not eating will make you go to heaven and see Mama?”
“At church, I heard Mister Willis say that his wife wasn’t eating and that she was gonna be in heaven by Christmas. You and Pa said Mama was in heaven. I figured if I didn’t eat, I could be in heaven by Christmas too. Then I could see Mama.”
“Oh, Little Joe, I’m sorry. It doesn’t work that way.”
“It don’t? Then was Mister Willis lying?”
“No, he wasn’t lying. You see, Gertrude Willis has been very sick for quite some time. She stopped eating because she’s so sick. People do that sometimes when their time is near. When her husband said she was going to be in heaven, he was trying to be polite.”
“How is that polite? I thought polite was saying pleases and thank you.”
“He didn’t want to come right out and say she was dying. He means she’ll be dead by Christmas.”
“So I can’t go to heaven and see Mama?” Adam shook his head. “But Adam, I miss her so much, and I want to see her. I can’t ever see her. At night, I look out the window and I make believe that one of those stars is her. But during the day, I can’t look at anything that is Mama.”
“I know. It’s hard. It’s hard for all of us.” He hugged his little brother and knew he had to say something before the two of them dissolved in tears. Changing the subject seemed to be the best route. “Now, do you want to go have some dinner before Hoss eats it all?”
“I guess so. I’m starving.” He had one more plea to be sure before he ate anything. “And you’re sure I can’t get to heaven by not eating.”
“Sorry, but that won’t work. Nobody gets to go to heaven and come back. You only get there by dying.”
With a sigh, Little Joe nodded to show he accepted that truth. He stood and with Adam’s arm around his shoulders, they headed down the stairs together, and soon there were smiles all around as Little Joe ate his dinner.
After dinner, Little Joe and Hoss played with toy soldiers while Adam did a drawing. When he finished the drawing, he showed his younger brothers and told them his plan. Little Joe jumped up and down with joy as Hoss grinned broadly. Adam cautioned his brothers though.
“Now that means I need some time to do the work. You two have to take your baths tomorrow without me there to make sure you wash everything. You have to clean up the washroom too. There will be a list of small chores you need to do without me watching over you every minute. If you can do that, then I can do this.”
With the three working together, everything got done. Hop Sing had to give the younger boys some directions, but those were eagerly followed as Hoss and Little Joe eagerly fulfilled the responsible roles they had been given.
That next afternoon, when Ben got home, he was amazed that the decorations were in place, the boys were clean, and Little Joe was eating his meals. Ben praised Adam for his responsible care of the family and the ranch while his father was gone. He was tired from his trip to town and doing business there and didn’t ask why Little Joe had been refusing to eat. Little boys often did things for no logical reason so he didn’t worry about it now that it was resolved.
But it was on Christmas morning that the most important task that had been accomplished by his sons was revealed. Adam carried in a large item covered by an old quilt and put it by the tree. A large metal rod stuck out from it. Ben had no idea what it could be, but when it was time to open gifts, his sons presented it to him. He pulled the quilt away to find an angel clutching three stars and riding an arrow attached to that rod.
“What is this?”
“It’s a weather vane, Pa.” Adam was rather proud of his work.
“Hmm, usually weather vanes are roosters or cows, or even ships. I’ve never seen an angel especially one holding three stars.”
“Pa, it’s to show our mothers. Adam put a star there for each of our mothers.” Hoss was proud of their gift and what it represented. “Adam did the work, but me and Little Joe did the other chores so he could have time to git it done. Adam said that was our part in the gift.”
“Yeah, Pa, and the angel shows they’re up in heaven. That big star is Mama.”
“Yup, every time we look up to see that weather vane, it’ll be like looking up at our mamas.”
“Yeah, and when the sun is shining, Adam says the stars will shine too.” Little Joe leaned over the arm of the chair and against his father’s shoulder admiring the weather vane and reached out to touch the metal stars.
Hoss went around and sat on the other arm of the chair. “Yup, he said they’d be shining with heaven’s light. That’s a right pretty thing to say, ain’t it, Pa?”
“Pa, I can’t wait to see Mama’s star shine.” Little Joe reached out and touched the largest star again. “It was really hard not to tell you the secret. Adam said I had to keep quiet. I been quiet about it forever. That’s Mama right there. Adam made it so big so I could see it even from a long way off.”
Not even realizing it, Adam had been holding his breath waiting for his father’s reaction. Marie’s death wasn’t that long ago, and the pain of it was still fresh for his father too. He was watching his father for every nuance of reaction. At Little Joe’s words, Ben nodded too overcome with emotion to speak at first. When he could, he said only a few words before his voice was too choked with emotion for him to continue. With tears in his eyes, but a smile for his sons, he said what he could.
“Merry Christmas, boys. We have them all here with us, don’t we?” When he regained his composure, he looked more closely at the quilt and had one more question. “Adam, where did you get this quilt?”
“It was in storage where we have old blankets and things that are worn out and that Hop Sing uses for scraps and things as he needs them.”
“Adam, this is a quilt that your mother made. It’s called the weather vane quilt. We used it for many years. You can see here and here where it was patched first by Inger and then by Marie until it was used and washed so much, I guess we used it up.”
To an amazed Little Joe, it was magic. “Adam used it to wrap up your present, Pa. It’s one of those Christmas miracles, isn’t it Pa?”
“I’m not sure if it qualifies as a Christmas miracle, but it certainly is a Christmas blessing, son.”
In his heart, Ben had thought this might be the saddest Christmas ever, but instead, it was heartwarming to have all that love surrounding him. Setting the weather vane aside, he reached out his arms to tell his sons to all gather into a big hug. Even Adam joined in. After that, he found his voice was stronger.
“Today, as soon as it warms up enough, Adam and I are going to put this weather vane on the roof. I want to see these stars shine with heaven’s light too. I feel a little closer to having heaven right here on the Ponderosa today.”
“Pa, are you crying?”
“No, Little Joe, these are tears of joy. This time, these are tears of joy.”
Back to the present:
“So that’s the story. That weather vane means a lot to us for a bunch of different reasons.”
The men had all settled down on benches as Joe had talked. The story was engrossing, and Joe told it with some flair mimicking voices as well as he could. Trying to match his father’s deep tones and Adam’s baritone were difficult though and almost made him cough every time he tried. At least Hoss and Candy refrained from laughing considering the serious nature of the story this time. Candy was serious in his response as well.
“I get that the weather vane is important to all of you, but it seems to me if you bring it up with your father, he might shed tears for a different reason now seeing as how the family isn’t together any more.”
Candy’s opinion on that was sobering for Hoss and Joe who hadn’t considered that possibility. So when they went in the house, they told their father they had found the source of the problem and patched it without mentioning the weather vane. That evening after Ben went to bed, Hoss and Joe sat up talking. It took some time to settle the issue that Joe brought up but finally Hoss agreed to Joe’s plan. It wasn’t easy for him to accept, but he did agree that the loss was worth the reward they might get. Nothing else they had tried had made any impact on Adam. He had said before that he would visit but always there were business meetings or business trips that had come up and the trip home had to be sacrificed. This was a last-ditch effort to see if they could move their brother to action because their father wasn’t getting any younger, and every year he seemed to be sadder than the year before when there were only two sons to celebrate Christmas with him.
After borrowing a scissors from Hop Sing and carrying a candle, Joe went to the attic walking in his stocking feet so as not to disturb his father. When he returned, he and Hoss composed a letter. The next day when they went to town to get supplies and to see if they could get the old weather vane repaired, they posted the letter. They hoped for good news, because the verdict on the weather vane was that it was hopeless. The blacksmith told them it was rusting in too many places, and it needed to be recast or replaced. They had been afraid of that news so they could only hope their other effort would be more fruitful.
With the new transcontinental railroad, it was only a few days later that Adam Cartwright opened that thick letter from his brothers. A swatch of cloth and a small note were inside. He paid close attention to both before pouring himself a glass of brandy and sitting at his desk looking around. The room had rich leather furniture, fine art on the walls, rich woven Persian rugs on the floor, and expensive books on the shelves that lined the walls. That was only the office. The rest of the house was as well-appointed. He had spent every hour of every day since leaving the Ponderosa doggedly pursuing his dreams except he no longer was sure what those dreams were. He had money and influence and the respect of others but found it wasn’t enough to satisfy his soul. He was as restless and as unhappy as he had been on the Ponderosa, and perhaps even more so. He had so much, but he wondered about his wealth and why none of what he had satisfied his needs.
Just that day he had grown frustrated while shopping and looking for the perfect gifts to send to his family members for Christmas. Coming home empty-handed, he didn’t know why he couldn’t think of anything to get them. The whole process frustrated him more and more each year as he was getting fed up with the whole idea of Christmas. He had so much more than they had and yet could think of nothing to give to them. He looked again at that swatch of cloth and the note and realization hit. It was a shock that it was so simple yet so profound. They had something he did not. They had each other. He had an empty bed upstairs. Oh, occasionally someone was in it, but it was never for love. He didn’t have time for love. He didn’t even have an inclination to seek love and knew he had given up on it after so many failures. There was one person for whom he cared at all. It was his assistant at his office whom he found attractive, not only physically but personally too. He fought that attraction and did everything he could to keep her at arm’s length because her social station and his were so different. He had never even considered a romance. At that point, he wondered when he had changed so much. He downed the last of his drink and pulled out some paper to begin writing. He had a lot to do and a short time in which to do it.
Two days later, at his architectural and engineering business, Adam called his assistant into his office and asked her to close the door. He had never done that before so she was worried. She knew he had been having meetings with lawyers and all sorts of other businessmen so she knew something big was up but had no idea what it was. He was about to do something so out of character for him that he wondered if he was losing his grasp on reality. Surely his lawyers had questioned him in the last couple of days as to whether he wanted to wait to possibly reconsider. He told them he did not. He hoped that this decision would work out too. It was rash and impulsive, and yet it felt like the best thing to do. It seemed as if he was being guided by some unseen benevolent force so he plunged ahead.
“Gina, no doubt you can tell that I’m making some big changes. They will affect you. I need to tell you what I’m doing. I hope it’s not too much of a shock to you. I’m selling the business. I will give you severance pay of two years salary after all your years of working here and your loyalty to me. I hope you consider that fair. Or if that is not acceptable, I do have another offer for you. You might find it unacceptable though.”
“Where are you going?” Gina had loved him almost since she had met him. The thought that she couldn’t even love him from afar was painful to accept. Fighting to keep the tears at bay, she waited for his answer.
“I’m going home, to Nevada.”
At that point, she remembered what he had said. “You mentioned another offer?”
“Yes, it may seem outlandish to you, and you can laugh and tell me I’m a foolish old man, but would you go with me?”
“Go with you? As your assistant? To do what?”
“No, go with me as my wife.”
Later, Gina was sure her mouth must have dropped open at that point. She knew she did stammer sounds as no words would come out. She looked at Adam wondering if there could possibly be a joke there or if there was any chance he was being serious. The look he had was difficult to determine. When he spoke, it was with sadness and hope.
“I haven’t accepted any kind of relationship even friendship from you, yet I do care for you. You’re the only woman I’ve met here who I consider genuine. I respect and trust you. I like you. I care what happens to you. I can’t say that I love you, not because I don’t, but because I don’t know. I have to admit that I no longer am sure what love is. All I can say is that I will be a true and faithful husband if you will have me.”
“Yes, I will marry you.”
“I did that so badly I didn’t think there was a chance you would agree.”
“You’re not trying to back out of the proposal now, are you? There have probably been far more romantic proposals than that one, but not likely has there ever been one that was more honest. I love you. I can honestly say that. We have a good starting point then.”
“This is all very business like. I think we should at least kiss.” As he was talking, Adam moved closer and gently took Gina in his arms. They kissed, and as they did so, Adam found that his feelings for her were far stronger than he had let himself believe. When they separated, Gina smiled up at him.
“I think you do love me.”
Adam nodded thinking she might be right. “You could be right about that. Are you still willing to marry me without knowing for sure?”
Her answer was a question. “When will we get married?”
“Do you want to get married here or in Nevada?”
“I want to get married here.”
“Then it has to be soon because I would like to be home for Christmas.”
“That’s why there have been so many meetings with lawyers.”
There were a few more meetings and one with a minister, packing, and then the last trip to the train station. They were west of St. Louis before they even had a chance to sleep together. Adam wrapped an arm around his nervous bride.
“I think we should sleep. This is not the way to begin our marriage. When we get home to Nevada, we can have our first night together as husband and wife. We can take our time to make it a memorable night. How does that sound?”
“That sounds wonderful. Thank you.”
In Nevada, decorations were going up for Christmas. Ben was dismayed to find that the precious weather vane quilt was missing a square, which inexplicably had been cut from it. No one seemed to know why. The decorations were put up and the quilt which was used to cushion the most delicate of them was packed away without the question being answered. Ben was sure there was going to be an answer, but couldn’t imagine what it would be. However he had seen the looks from Joe to Hoss and back again. Something had gone on, but they weren’t ready to tell him anything.
On Christmas Eve, everything was in place for a quiet family dinner including Candy. As they moved to the table where Hop Sing was setting out dishes of food, Ben noted that there were six places set though and asked Hoss and Joe why. They told him that there were going to be a couple of guests.
“I thought we had agreed on a quiet family gathering.”
The brothers looked at each other as if hoping the other one was going to come up with an answer for their father. Any further complaints were stopped by the sound of horses and a carriage in the yard.
“Well, they finally got here. C’mon Joe, let’s go bring ’em inside for dinner.”
Ben looked at Candy who shrugged. He didn’t know who the guests were either. Hoss and Joe answered the door. When a young woman came around the corner, Ben was still mystified as to the identity of their guests, but then he heard a voice he hadn’t heard in years.
“Pa, I’m sorry we’re late for dinner. The weather outside is frightful.”
“Oh, Adam, but this dinner looks so delightful. I’m sorry too, but we haven’t eaten all day.”
“It has been a challenge to get here. We were delayed in Reno, but I promised my brothers I’d be here by Christmas Eve so I had to do it. I always keep my promises.” He paused for a moment as he gazed at the tree off to the other end of the room. “And I’m beginning to like Christmas again too.”
Hoss and Joe saw Gina blushing deeply when Adam said they were delayed in Reno and guessed that there was more to that part of the story. She would never tell though that they got a hotel room and consummated their marriage there because neither of them could wait any longer. Once they got off the train, they had some time before the stage left so they got a room. However they took so much time, they missed that stage and had to catch the next one, which is what had made them almost late in arriving. To her, it had been worth all the rushing and the worry about being late. To lie in bed with Adam’s arms around her and hear him say he did love her and that his heart was growing bigger by being married to her had made her love for him even greater. She knew too that his heart would be even stronger now with his family all around him. They had given each other the best Christmas gift they could, and now they had this wonderful family too. It could not have been better, and their warm welcoming smiles told her more than words ever could that Adam had made the right decision in coming home.
Seeing tears on his father’s cheeks, Adam almost cried too. Instead, he introduced his wife to her father-in-law. Hugs and a welcome allowed Ben to regain his composure as did his son who had been keeping his emotions under wraps for years.
“Sit down then. You said you’re hungry. We can talk while we eat.”
There was nonstop talking while they ate with someone having a tale to tell during every moment of the meal. At the end, Ben finally got to ask a question.
“Adam, we’ve tried to get you to come home for a visit for years. What made you come home this time?”
Reaching into his pocket, Adam pulled out a square from the weather vane quilt. “This did it. I had forgotten what was most important in life. This helped me remember and my heart grew back and opened again. I asked Gina to marry me, sold the business, and sold my house and most of the things in it.”
“Wait a minute. You sold your business and your house? You asked Gina to marry you?”
“Yes, Pa, I did. This isn’t only a visit. I came back home. I hope I’m welcome to stay. I may not be suited to much ranch work any more, but I know Hoss and Joe have at least one job they want me to do. I brought some things with me to get that done. If the weather is nice tomorrow, I may work on it then. All of that happened because my brothers sent me that quilt square. It made me open my eyes and my heart to something more, much more than I had. Yes, Gina is my Christmas gift. She consented to be my wife.”
Adam stared down his brothers daring them to say anything to ruin that moment. They didn’t. They could wait a day or two to do their teasing. However their attention shifted to their father anyway.
“Pa, are you crying?”
“These are tears of joy, Joe. These are tears of joy. You boys know how to get me the best gifts.”