Summary: In this prequel, Little Joe is growing up, and one thing Ben strives to teach him is empathy and the importance of family.
Word Count: 1045
Christmas Eve 8:00am
After breakfast, Pa told me that today is Christmas Eve and that I had to write that letter to Santa Claus he told me to write weeks ago. He said it was my last chance or otherwise I don’t get anything for Christmas. I’ve been putting this off because I don’t want to write the letter this year. Pa changed the rules on me. Usually this is a fun letter to write, and I get to ask for all the things I want. I don’t get them all, but it’s fun asking and hoping. Pa said I couldn’t ask for anything for myself this time though. I have to ask for something for Hoss and something for Adam. I don’t know why I should do that. Hoss don’t need anything. He’s plenty happy with what he’s already got. I would be too if I had what he has. Now I really want to have a jackknife like he’s got and a horse to ride like he’s got and a rifle to shoot like he’s got. Pa says maybe I’m too young for all of those but that’s what I want. Hoss has all of that already. Now as for Adam, well that’s another story because what he needs Santa probably can’t give him.
I worked on a letter, but Pa didn’t like it at all. In my letter, I told Santa: “Please give my brother Hoss bigger clothes because he eats so much he needs them. He gets bigger every day, and he’s gonna split out his pants and rip his shirts real soon. Could you please give my brother Adam a good dose of sugar to make him nicer because bossy boots could definitely use it.” Pa said my letter wasn’t in the spirit of Christmas, and he said it wasn’t very Christian either. He told me to try again. I don’t know what the spirit of Christmas is. I thought you got presents for being good, and I’ve been good, or at least mostly I have. I mean, I’ve been good a whole lot more than I’ve done anything bad. The tally sheet ought to add up in my favor real well unless of course he asks Adam. He knows a few things Pa doesn’t know.
Well, Pa said I did better on my next try. I told Santa that “My brother Hoss could sure use a new saddle. The one he has is kinda old and cracked in places. He’d find his big butt would be more comfortable in a nice new saddle. As for my oldest brother, maybe he could use a new saddle too. Maybe it’s saddle sores that make him so grumpy all the time.” When I showed that one to Pa, he said at least I was in the giving spirit but it wasn’t for the right reasons. I figured as long as I was giving, it didn’t matter why. I guess it does. Not sure what the right reasons are. I thought I had some really good ones. So now I have to try it again.
Now Pa said I was getting close. I went up to ask Hoss for advice, and Adam was helping him wrap presents. I heard them talking. I found out the two of them bought me a jackknife, and they were talking about how they were gonna talk Pa into letting me keep it. Hoss said Adam should do the talking cause he’s a lot better at it, and Adam said he would. He said it was because I was old enough to have one of those jackknifes in my pocket along with a tin of matches like any of the hands. I never knew Adam could be on my side like that. All that sure made that letter easier to write. I told Santa that “Hoss and Adam should get new saddles because they were good to me.” Pa liked that but said it wasn’t quite ready yet. I’m not sure what I’ve got to say to make it work. I’m getting kinda tired of writing these letters. I wish Pa would just tell me what to say.
I finally got Pa to say I did it right. It took a while because Hoss and Adam told me to come with them when they went to get the tree for in the house. We had a good time and brought home a pretty tree. It was the one I picked. Adam cut it with a saw while Hoss held it up with a rope. We dragged it to the wagon on a rope and tied it in the back. Of course, we had to have a snowball fight then with the wagon in between me and Hoss and Adam. Hoss can throw a long way, but that Adam sure can pick his targets. Well anyway we finally got the tree home and into the house. Pa made us check to make sure there were no critters in the tree. He said he remembers the owl that hid out in last year’s tree and doesn’t want any of those shenanigans this year. We got to laughing about that before we hung some decorations on the tree. Hoss and Adam are doing the top branches now where I can’t reach even with the ladder. So while they finished up, I wrote the letter to Santa saying they ought to get new saddles because they deserve them and need them. Pa said that was good. I guess I don’t quite understand how that letter was so much better than the others, but Pa said it was. He said he thought Santa might be real good to all of us now.
Christmas Day 7:00am
Santa listened to me. I had no idea that would work. Hoss and Adam got their new saddles and both of them were smiling a lot, but so did I. That surprised me a whole bunch until Pa told me to go to the barn with them. We got our coats, hats, and scarves on and went out there where there was a brand-new Pinto for me in there! I love him. I’ve named him Cochise. I wonder who told Santa I needed him.