"Come on! We're gonna be late!" Mary Ellen Walton Willard Jones hollers up the stairs. "Jonesy! John Curtis! Katie! Clay! Come on! You know Mama likes to eat promptly at 6:30." Clay walks down the stairs.
"If Grandma doesn't know we're coming, why do we have to leave so early?" Clay asks. Mary Ellen just stares at him.
"We don't want to impose on her dinner, Clayton. Now Uncle John, Aunt Erin, Uncle Ben, Uncle Jim Bob, Aunt Janet, and Aunt Cindy are already there. Grandma is getting anxious to see Daddy. We need to get her back to the mountain." Mary Ellen says. Katie runs down in her best dress. "Erin Katherine, why are you wearing that dress?"
"I want to look good when we meet everybody." Katie says. Mary Ellen sighs and leans down.
"Katie, you have already met everybody. You just don't remember them." Mary Ellen says.
"Oh." Katie exclaims.
"Go change." Mary Ellen says. Katie runs up the stairs. Grandma taps Mary Ellen's shoulder.
"Yes Grandma?" Mary Ellen asks looking at her.
"You… You…" Grandma says referring to Katie.
"Was I that bull headed Grandma?" Mary Ellen asks.
"Yes… Oh yes." Grandma says. They smile.
"Come on Jonesy! John Curtis!" Mary Ellen hollers. John Curtis comes bounding down the stairs. "Finally." Mary Ellen sighs. "You know John Curtis, I never realized how much you actually look like your dad til now." Jonesy comes down the stairs.
"Thank you." Jonesy says with a smile.
"I was referring to Curt, Jonesy." Mary Ellen says softly. Katie walks down.
"Who's Curt mom?" Katie asks.
"John Curtis' dad. He died in an attack on Pearl Harbor. You may have learned about it in school." Mary Ellen says.
"December 7, 1941. A day that ruined our family." John Curtis says before he runs up the stairs.
"John Curtis." Mary Ellen calls up the stairs. She grabs the handrail.
"Mary Ellen, let him be. He's hurting. It'll be okay." Jonesy says.
"Okay." Mary Ellen says. "John Curtis, if you want to go see Grandma and Grandpa we'll be in the car." They walk out the front door. A few minutes later, John Curtis comes walking down the stairs and goes out the front door closing it behind him. It was a quiet drive to Walton's Mountain. When they get to the house Jim Bob's working on his car, Cindy and Erin are working on the laundry.
"Come on Grandma. We'll go surprise Daddy in the mill." Mary Ellen says. She and Grandma get out of the car and walk to the mill unnoticed. Mary Ellen leans against the mill door as John cuts a piece of wood. When he turns off the mill she stands up.
"Hi Daddy." Mary Ellen says.
"Afternoon Mary Ellen." John replies nonchalantly. "Mary Ellen!" He hollers realizing who he's talking to. "How's Richmond?" He asks.
"It's very large and really loud." Mary Ellen says with a chuckle. "I have somebody here who really wants to see you."
"Is it Katie or Clay?" John asks.
"Come over here and find out." Mary Ellen replies. John walks to the side of the barn to see Grandma.
"Ma!" John says hugging her.
"John… John…" Grandma says.
"Yes Ma… I can see Mary Ellen and Jonesy are taking good care of you." John responds. Grandma nods.
"Come on, Jonesy and the kids are in the car." Mary Ellen exclaims with a smile. They all go to the car.
"Jonesy! How are you son?" John asks.
"Very good John. How are you?" Jonesy asks.
"5 of our 7 children are home for Christmas. I am very happy. I am assuming you haven't seen Liv?" John asks.
"Livie…" Grandma squeaks.
"Let's go in." John says. Jonesy, John Curtis, Clay and Katie get out of the car and go inside.
"Mary Ellen!" Erin squeals and taps Cindy. They get up and go into the house.
"John, can you get me some pepper at Ike's?" Olivia asks.
"Sure Liv." John says before he exits.
"Livie?" Grandma asks. Olivia turns around.
"Grandma! Mary Ellen! Jonesy! Katie! Clay! John Curtis!" Olivia exasperates and hugs them. "I thought you had work and they had school."
"We took a few days off. I told her coming to Walton's Mountain for Christmas was more important than anything they could learn in a classroom." Jonesy says.
"Thank you Jonesy. It means a lot to have my family here, even if 2 children aren't here." Olivia says.
"I'm sorry that Jason, and Elizabeth aren't here Mama. Nobody can find Elizabeth though. Merry Christmas!" Mary Ellen says hugging Olivia.
"Merry Christmas everybody." Olivia says.