James was lost in thought as he pondered what he’d just said to Audrey’s father. Life in plantation production had been furthest in his mind when he came to spend thanksgiving with Audrey and her parents, but it looked appealing since visiting the citrus plantation briefly. His father had expectations he and his siblings would join his organization which consisted of engineering and sale and service of heavy equipment and a considerable shareholding in related companies. His siblings were interested in the production, sales and service aspect of the business and Brian’s father was encouraging him to major in business studies. They were right up there socially and glad their son had chosen Audrey. His father had researched the Stewart family and were impressed with their upper crust ancestry back in England’s history.
James spoke at last. “My parents will be disappointed if I don’t spend vacation with them, but I’ll phone them this evening and see how they feel about it. I’m quite enthusiastic about your invitation.”
They joined the others inside and sat down to a couple of long tables, erected on the patio set with a variety of foods. Albert stood and blessed the food, and everyone passed their plates around while Dawn and Susan supervised food distribution and cared for needs of the three grandchildren seated at their own lower table near the adults. The evening was a happy occasion, and all departed for their assigned sleeping quarters happy and ready for the thanksgiving preparation next day.
That evening after everyone had departed for their resting quarters Brian Stewart beckoned to James his sister’s special friend and they headed for one of the old seasonal workers cottages in the process of being converted into motel style rooms. He’d moved out of the family home and claimed one of them for himself and Albert had helped him convert it into a typical student’s bachelor pad. Brian enjoyed this hint at independence while being quite content to help his father in management of the orchard. This apartment was spacious enough for them to put another bed in temporarily and had a nice lounge set and TV as well as cooking facilities in the event Brian wanted to be independent. However, he still ate with his parents when on site. The complex was hooked into the office and house internet connection for him to care for homework research and take time off for an occasional TV program. He was more interested in web research than what he called the brain-dead programs on TV.
While there were young women at his high school who’d shown an interest in Brian as an honors’ student and gifted sportsman, he hadn’t yet developed an interest in the opposite sex. He’d learned a lot about machinery from his father and the foreman and treasured his jeep which James had paused to admire on reaching the room much to Brian’s delight.
James was soon asleep after a good soak in the shower and Brian lay in bed reading and thinking. He remembered how quickly James had been accepted into the family circle and smiled as he recalled the tussles between his mom and Audrey over who should have access to his time since James had arrived to share thanksgiving with them. He’d listened in to James’s phone call with his parents asking if they’d be OK with him spending vacation at the orchard and heard their gracious response.
Apparently, they’d met Audrey already and were encouraging the relationship. However, with Audrey as his elder sister how would he sit in the pecking order should his parents go to their rest and leave the orchard to the one who wanted it. Audrey seemed quite content to be at home rather than having ambitions to move on to other places as their elder siblings had done. Now there was a further complication with James her intended expressing an interest in this line of work. His first thoughts on meeting him where James would make a great brother-in-law. But with the expression of interest in the orchard business was he going to be a threat to Brian’s own ambition to run the place? These thoughts troubled him but soon he was too tired to think further and sank into a peaceful sleep.
Thanksgiving finally arrived and it had been expertly arranged by the women in this extended family. They invited foreman Alan Smyth and his family to join them, so a third table had appeared for seating and two tables for the food. They would serve their own food except for the grandchildren whose mothers saw to their needs at their small table. Once again Albert did the honors pronouncing a prayer of thanks on the occasion before the thanksgiving meal commenced and when the food had been collected on plates and everyone seated there was a buzz of conversation in that peaceful atmosphere with a pause as individuals went back for seconds.
Susan had surprised her parents by being civil with her brother Tony up to this point of time to Albert’s relief and he wondered what had changed her attitude. Eventually that mystery was cleared up when as the meal was reaching a conclusion Susan stood and banged her glass with a spoon to gain attention. She motioned for her husband Dan to join her, and everyone turned to see what she had to say. She smiled.
“I have some good news to share with the family. I’m with child and it looks like Thomas is going to have a little sister at the appointed time. Our doctor confirmed this just before we headed here for the thanksgiving celebration.”
Everyone banged the table and shouted congratulations while Dan gave his wife a hug and kiss. Cynthia turned to her husband and smiled. I told you that Albert. Knew as soon as she got out of the car. Albert chuckled.
“You get the nosy grandmother award Cyn.” They both laughed and family members turned their attention to their parents inquiringly.
Susan sobered, “Well mom and dad share the joke with the rest of us.”
Cynthia spoke. “This is something only Susan and her parents are privy to. I’ll whisper to you later darling.”
There was an immediate loud response from the rest gathered there. “Why should Susan be the only one to know, the rest of us want to know too.”
“Sorry, this is a mother and daughter thing.”
The evening finished and everyone was happy with the fellowship they’d had together. Even the men chipped in to help clean up and then help store leftovers in the walk-in freezer. Then they retired to their sleeping quarters and were soon asleep except for Susan who sought her mother out.
“OK mom out with it what was so funny about the announcement?”
Cynthia hugged her daughter and looked around to see if anyone else was present.
“The day you arrived I told your father you were pregnant again and you’d be having a daughter this time. He told me I was imagining things as usual, and we made a bet. Your dad lost the bet, and we were laughing about it because I was telling him he’d have to do whatever I asked him to do for a week.”
Susan laughed. “How did you know it would be a girl?”
“Probably Dawn would have known too but she is too polite to ask, when you’re as old and wise as me Susan you’ll know according to an old wife’s tale if it’s likely to be a boy or girl by the way the baby rests. I doubt anyone else suspected, and you’ve worn your clothes cleverly to cover up from prying eyes. I’m sure Dan is excited.”
“Yes, he is!” Susan said joyfully. She gave her mom a hug and departed to join her family in their room. Cynthia watched her go with pleasure. Another grandchild for her to spoil on their visits. She could hardly wait for the delivery.
To be continued
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