Brenda and Trey were already up and working on dinner by the time the rest of us got up Thanksgiving morning. After the boys came downstairs, Dion and Brandon went to the kitchen and urged the other two to take a break while they fixed breakfast for all of us. Brenda was hesitant about doing this at first, saying she would be happy to fix breakfast, but Brandon insisted and his mother eventually gave in.
Dion and Brandon whipped up French toast, home fries, and bacon, while I set the table. I then carried plates of food in to those seated at the table, as well as pouring glasses of orange juice to go along with their milk or coffee. When everyone else was full, the three of us took our plates into the dining room and sat down to eat too.
"I'm not used to being waited on, and I had no idea Brandon had become so handy in the kitchen," Brenda commented while we were filling our bellies.
"When you have children someone needs to fix the meals and we weren't about to let Danny do it," Brandon joked. "He has a lot of talents, but cooking isn't one of them."
"Ok, I'll admit it," I confessed. "I'm just grateful Brandon and Trey can take care of the cooking, especially since Dad's not here."
"To tell you the truth, I've been very impressed with what Trey has done so far. If he weren't a teacher, he probably could have been a fine chef." Trey blushed from the compliment.
"I learned from Dad, because I used to help him whenever I could. I'm really glad he taught me so much, or we'd have been spending a fortune on take out while he's been in Georgia."
"Yes, knowing how to cook can save you a lot of money," Brenda agreed.
The rest of us took turns helping out and doing what we could in the kitchen, but I stuck to doing dishes and cleaning counters, since my lack of culinary skills had been pointed out. Whenever we weren't helping with the meal, we took turns going into the family room to watch the Macy's Parade with the boys. They seemed happy to spend time with each of us, and by 3:00 we were ready to be called to the table for an early dinner.
We upheld Dad's tradition of going around the table and saying what we were thankful for again. As you'd expect, each of us mentioned that we were glad to have Benny with us this year, in addition to the other things we were grateful for. Now, we were anxious to see what he had to say when it became his turn.
"I'm really glad that you guys let me come here to live," he began. "I like having so many brothers and I like having so many dads and uncles too. I like my new grandparents that I just met and I'm really happy just being here. I hope I never have to go nowhere else."
"You don't have to worry about that, because it's never going to happen," I assured him. "You're our son now and that is never going to change." I don't think I'd ever seen a bigger or brighter smile in my entire life than the one that spread across Benny's face at that moment.
"Good!" he added a split second later.
Pat offered a brief rendering of what he was thankful for, but then Brenda elaborated a little more for both of them. "When we first discovered that Brandon was gay, we wondered if we'd ever become grandparents. Now, we have three handsome, bright, and thoughtful grandsons to dote on. I just want to apologize that we won't be returning for Christmas, since these trips are very hard on us, but we'll be sending your presents to you. We also hope to come back next summer and spend a week with you."
"That would be great!" Noah concurred, beaming.
"Yes, it will be nice to spend more than just a couple of days with you," Elliot added.
"And I can show you how I can swim," Benny chimed in, causing both of his grandparents to giggle.
We had a fantastic meal and the turkey came out great! We all complimented Brenda and Trey on how moist and delicious it was, and they merely smiled and thanked us in return.
"I think I learned enough so I can do it on my own, if I ever need to do this again," Trey informed us.
"I'm sure you'll be fine if you ever have to prepare a turkey," Brenda agreed. "You were a great help and a quick study."
"Just so you guys know, I spoke with Dad on Skype when I thought I was going to have to fix everything and he told me he was going to fix a turkey too. He said the doctor had unwired Shannon's jaw and told him he could eat regular food again. He just warned Shannon to take his time and chew everything carefully so he didn't choke, but he also told him not to eat anything too hard just yet either."
"That's great news and something else to be thankful for," Elliot offered before the rest of us had a chance to respond, but we all agreed wholeheartedly.
After we'd finished eating, everyone headed for the family room, and most of us loosened our belts before we sat down to watch TV. We talked during commercials or if the show wasn't very good, but the boys kept hushing us when 'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring' came on. We were going to watch the next one with them tomorrow night, and the final one on Saturday, since the network was showing them in order, three nights in a row. We were worried that Brenda wouldn't want to do this with us, but she was fine and sat between Elliot and Noah on the sofa, with Benny on her lap.
Brandon and I thought we'd get time to spend with the boys over the holiday, but we were happy to let them enjoy the time with their grandparents instead. Grandpa Pat was seated in the rocking chair next to Elliot and they talked about his studies and how he liked Yale during the commercials. Joshie and Wyatt were sitting on their fathers' laps, so Brandon and I cuddled with each other. It was one of the few times we'd been able to do this without being interrupted by one of the boys, but we also watched them interacting with Brandon's parents.
When the movie ended, we went out to have leftovers, and then we had cake and ice cream for Dion's birthday. We'd decided to hold off baking the pies until the following day and have them then. Now, it was time to celebrate Dion's 27th birthday on the 27th of the month, which just happened to be Thanksgiving.
After we ate, we began chatting with Brenda and Pat when Pat made an announcement. "I don't know if Brenda has mentioned this, but I just wanted to make sure that you knew we'll be leaving Saturday after lunch."
"Why so soon?" Brandon challenged.
"It's because I have to work on Monday and I need time to do some other things before that happens. This way I'll have Sunday to finish everything and then be able to rest before the work week starts."
"I wish you could have stayed another day, because I won't be leaving until Sunday," Elliot chimed in.
"I wish we could too, but this is better for me. I'm just glad we got to spend today with you, but we'll be here all day tomorrow as well."
"Maybe we could do something special then?" Noah suggested.
"Yeah, I'd like that," Benny agreed.
"I'll tell you what. Rather than shipping your presents to you for Christmas, what if we take you boys shopping tomorrow and we can pick out your gifts together."
"We'd rather just spend the time with you," Elliot countered. Pat and Brenda looked at each other as if communicating silently.
"What if we leave to do our shopping early, and then we can take you to have lunch and see a movie afterward?"
"Yeah, the new Hunger Games movie just came out," Noah suggested, looking hopeful. "I've seen the other two and have been waiting for this one to get here."
"I'm not sure that's suitable for Benny," Brenda said, as she looked in our direction. "What do you two think?"
"He's watched the Lord of the Rings with us and that's pretty violent too, so I doubt it will be any worse," Brandon replied.
"I suppose you're right, so ok, we can do that then," she agreed.
"Can Joshie go with us?" Benny immediately asked.
"Sure, if his fathers don't mind," she confirmed as she looked toward Dion and Trey.
"We don't mind if he goes, but that means you'll be taking him with you while you're shopping and eating lunch too, unless you plan on coming back in between," Dion pointed out.
"No, we won't be coming back and his being with us will work out perfectly," Brenda stated. "We planned on buying presents for him and Wyatt too, so this way he can help us do that."
"You don't have to buy them anything," Trey objected.
"I know we don't HAVE to, but we want to. Our grandsons think of your sons like brothers, so that makes them our grandsons too," she replied with a smug grin.
"Ok, but I hope you know what you're getting into," Trey relented.
When we sent the boys to take their showers, we got our next surprise. Before they headed upstairs, we were discretely told that Noah was going to shower with Joshie tonight, while Elliot showered with Benny, and then they were going to switch partners tomorrow night. We didn't have a problem with this, but suggested they keep the information to themselves when we gave them our blessing and sent them on their way. We just weren't sure how Brenda and Pat might react if they found out the younger boys were showering with the older ones.
Before they headed up to the bathrooms, they also informed us that they were all going to sleep together again, so I guess they were enjoying spending time with each other as well. This was something else we were grateful for, and I guess the big gap in ages had some hidden advantages, in that the older pair took care of the younger ones for us at times.
Before the rest of us turned in, Trey told Dion about going away for the rest of the weekend, so they hurried upstairs to pack. They'd be taking off early in the morning and leaving us with the boys, although it seemed Joshie would be spending time with Brenda and Pat and we'd only have to worry about Wyatt.
Dion and Trey left as soon as it was light out on Friday morning, so they'd have as much time alone as possible. Wyatt must have heard his fathers when they were leaving and began calling for them, so Brandon went over to get him and put him in bed with us until we were ready to get up too. After we'd explained that his fathers were going on a trip he settled down. He also seemed to enjoy being with us, seeing it was a novelty for him, so he didn't put up a fuss and gave us a few more precious moments to relax. However, his patience finally came to an abrupt end.
"Unka Danny can we get up now?"
"Sure, champ," I agreed as we got out of bed and took him downstairs.
Brandon's parents were already in the living room when we reached the foyer, so Brenda and Brandon fixed pancakes for all of us. After he'd made one for Wyatt, I buttered it, added syrup, and cut it up for him while they were busy making enough for the rest of us. After the five of us had finished eating, we took Wyatt into the family room to watch Nickelodeon, since the other boys weren't up yet. When they came down a short time later, they wandered into the family room and asked a question.
"Are you fixin' us somethin' to eat or do we have to have cereal today?" Noah asked, looking at us hopefully.
"We've made pancake batter and were just waiting for you boys to get up," Brandon answered. "Are all of you ok with pancakes this morning?"
"Yes!" was the answer he got in reply.
"I'll take care of them dear," his mother offered as she was already getting up.
"We'll do it together, because they eat a lot," Brandon replied as they headed out to the kitchen to get started. I followed to see what I could do to help out.
Brenda was flipping pancakes as fast as she could, while Brandon was frying up the sausages. As soon as the pancakes were ready, she would pile them onto a plate and Brandon would add a couple of sausage links before I carried it into the dining room. I then placed the plates, one at a time, in front of each of the boys, but then I had to make several more trips when they were ready for refills. They each had a second pancake, and Elliot and Noah had a third too, because they still weren't full. That's when the younger pair went in to join Wyatt and Grandpa Pat in the family room, while Elliot and Noah finished eating and chatted with us.
"I like it when you and Grandpa Pat come to visit," Noah told his grandmother.
"We enjoy spending time with you boys too. It will be fun spending most of the day with all of you."
"Danny and I won't be going, but Danny said Dad could use the SUV so you'll all fit into one vehicle."
"Why aren't you going with us?" his mother asked. "We want to get your presents too."
"That's not necessary, but we'll be busy taking care of Wyatt. We agreed to do that so his fathers could spend the weekend alone to celebrate Dion's birthday in private," Brandon countered, causing his mother to blush slightly.
"That was very thoughtful of you, but you can bring him along so we can do this together."
"First of all, he's too young to see the Hunger Games movie and he usually takes a nap before lunch."
"I keep forgetting how much younger he is. Yes, I guess that would make it difficult, but we wish you were joining us."
"We do too, but it's just not possible."
"Then we'll see if we can find something for you too, or we'll ship your presents as we'd originally planned."
"Just have a good time with the boys and I'll warn them all to behave before you leave." That comment got scowls from Noah and Elliot.
"You don't need to warn us," Noah stated defiantly.
"Well, remind you then," Brandon replied, not giving in.
"I don't think that will be necessary," Brenda interjected. "Your father and I are quite capable of handling anything that comes up."
"I hope you're right," Brandon added at he looked at her and grinned.
We eventually told Noah and Elliot to get Joshie and Benny and take them upstairs to change so they'd be ready to go with their grandparents. As soon as they told the younger boys, they all raced upstairs, at breakneck speed, since they didn't want to get left behind.
When they came downstairs again, they were looking sharp and ready to go. I gave Pat the keys to the SUV and they all went out and loaded into it, so Brandon and I went outside and waved at them as they drove away.
After we went back to the family room where Wyatt was watching cartoons on TV, he looked up and asked a question.
"Where Joshie n Ben-ee?" It was obvious he wasn't happy that they took off without him.
"They're busy doing something, but you'll see them again later," I replied as Brandon and I sat down to keep him company.
When he was tired of watching television, Brandon and I entertained him by playing games. First, we tossed his ball back and forth for a while, and then we played with his cars too, as well as with his stuffed animals. That distracted him until it was time to put him down for his nap.
While Wyatt was sleeping, Brandon and I set about doing our chores, since our normal schedule was all messed up by the holiday and having company. We knew the boys would want us to spend some time with them tomorrow, after Brenda and Pat left and before Elliot took off for Yale, so this was our best chance to get these things accomplished.
I had finished four loads of laundry and folded them by the time the rest of them got back, and Brandon had finished sweeping, vacuuming, and dusting the downstairs. Wyatt had awakened during that time, but he was happy watching the Disney channel while we finished working. After everyone was inside, the boys were eager to show us what their grandparents had bought them. While they were doing that, Brenda gave Wyatt a couple of new toys, which thrilled him and made him forget about his earlier disappointment.
Once the boys were finished showing us what they'd gotten, Brenda turned toward Danny and me. "I'm sorry but we didn't have time to pick up anything for you, but we'll send your gifts later."
"That's not necessary and you've done more than enough already," I replied. "From now on just buy for the boys and don't worry about us."
"I don't think we can do that," she mumbled, looking slightly upset.
That didn't last for long, because Pat made a suggestion. "We don't want anyone to have to cook today, so we're going to take you out to eat tonight. I saw an Outback Steak House during our outing and I love that place, so how about allowing us to take you all there?"
"That's not going to be cheap, Dad," Brandon immediately countered.
"I know, but it's something your mother and I want to do. Just get ready and we'll head out. I'm sure we'll also have to take two vehicles this time, so I'll drive our rental car behind you, since Elliot was my co-pilot during the earlier trip."
"If you're sure you want to do this, just give us a chance to freshen up and change. Elliot, while we're doing that, you can Google the Outback Steakhouse and put us on their 'wait list' to secure a reservation for 10 people. Make it for an hour from now to help us cope with the holiday crowd and make it easier on the younger ones."
While Brandon and I were changing and getting Wyatt ready, the rest of them went to the family room to relax and see what was on TV until we were done. We tried to hurry, but we wanted to look good too, since everyone else did, plus we had to wash Wyatt quickly and change him as well. As soon as we finished, we headed to the family room to let them know we were ready. After putting on our coats, we all went outside.
"I'm going to ride with Grandpa Pat and Grandma Brenda," Elliot announced as we were heading toward the vehicles.
"I'll ride with them too," Noah quickly added. This seemed to please their grandparents, if we were to judge by the smiles on their faces.
"Joshie and me will ride back with them then," Benny offered, suddenly feeling slighted.
"Ok, that will work," Pat replied, and then we loaded up and set out for the restaurant.
Besides ordering our meals, we also got two Blooming Onions to share. Benny and Joshie weren't sure about trying them, but once they saw all of us enjoying these appetizers, they gave them a try too. They quickly found out they liked them, so Wyatt was the only one who didn't have any. It didn't bother him, however, as he colored on his placemat instead.
Since it was a steak house, that's what we all had, but Brandon and I ordered for Benny, since he'd never had anything like this before. When his order came, Brandon cut it up for him too and told him to chew everything well, so he didn't choke.
"Hey, this is really good," Benny announced after taking his first couple of bites.
"We thought you'd enjoy it," Brandon told him.
"Thanks, Grandpa Pat and Grandma Brenda. I really like this a lot."
"You're very welcome, sweetie," his grandmother replied, smiling broadly at the same time, as the others thanked them as well.
While we were eating, the boys told us about seeing "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1." The older boys had seen the previous two movies, and we even had them on DVD at home, so I was fairly certain that Joshie and Benny would want to watch those too. It seemed like a no-brainer after listening to them carry on about the current installment.
Pat and Brenda wanted us to order desserts too, but we were all stuffed and I reminded them that we still had pies at home which we hadn't eaten on Thursday, along with the rest of Dion's cake and ice cream. That was enough to get them to agree to have dessert and coffee at home, so we thanked them for the fine meal and left to return to the house.
Joshie and Benny didn't let any of us forget that they were riding back with Pat and Brenda, even though we hadn't forgotten about it, even without their reminder.
Once we got to the house, we rested for a while first while Brandon put the pies in the oven. After they were ready and had cooled down enough to eat, we had our dessert. The adults basically opted for the pies, while the boys chose to have more cake and ice cream.
After we finished, most of us went to the family room to watch the second part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy on TV, while Brandon took Wyatt to give him a bath. Brenda kissed Wyatt before they left and wished him pleasant dreams.
When the movie ended, we sent the rest of the boys upstairs to shower and get ready for bed and we each said goodnight to them before they took off. Brenda kissed each of them too, before they headed up the stairs en masse.
"They're all such wonderful boys," Brenda gushed once they were out of earshot. "I absolutely enjoyed spending the day with them because they were all so well behaved."
"And they were very considerate too," Pat added. "When we suggested some items they might like, a couple of times they told us to pick something else, because those things were too expensive, but we insisted."
"We wondered who had suggested some of those items you bought for them, because we knew they weren't cheap," I agreed. "I'm glad they didn't con you into anything."
"No, they were perfect gentlemen," Brenda added. "And Joshie was wonderful too, so we are definitely going to treat him and Wyatt like our grandsons too, providing Dion and Trey don't mind."
"I'm sure they won't and they'll feel honored that you're doing it," Brandon confirmed, before his parents said goodnight and headed up to bed.
We followed them up a few minutes later, although Brandon and I had made an agreement first. Since they had done so much for us and the boys, including buying them gifts and taking us all out to dinner, we were going to set the alarm to get up earlier than normal. We were doing this so we could prepare a big breakfast for them before they left.
The next morning, we got up as soon as the alarm went off and headed downstairs to get things started. Brandon prepared everything to make his version of Egg McMuffins, but he also cracked a dozen eggs and mixed it with milk, for those that preferred scrambled eggs, sausage, and toast instead. After I got the link sausages and Canadian bacon out of the freezer, I cut up potatoes and a large onion so Brandon could fry up some home fries too. Then as each person came downstairs, we asked what they wanted and then prepared their breakfast for them.
Brenda and Pat came down first, so we fixed their meals and ate with them before the boys got up. "This is wonderful being pampered like this from time to time. If only I could teach your father how to do this, but I'm afraid he's like Danny when it comes to cooking."
"But I take you out for breakfast, rather than fix it myself," he offered in defense.
"Yes, you do, and I really appreciate that too. I didn't mean that you never did anything for me."
"Ok, I was just making sure," he responded with a wink.
Brandon went up to get Wyatt before they finished, and then the rest of the boys came down in a group about a half hour later, seeing they'd all slept with each other again. Once they had chowed down, we went to the living room to sit and talk with Pat, while Brenda went to the family room with the boys.
"When would be a good time for us to come visit you next summer?" Pat asked Brandon and me as soon as we were alone.
"Anytime would be good, as long as you give Brandon and me enough notice so we don't schedule appointments during that time. We'll also need to find someone to cover any emergencies while you're here."
"So is any specific time better for you?" I grabbed a calendar to check a few things.
"Any time would be fine, but Elliot's birthday is June 29th. That's a Monday, so we'll probably have his party the Saturday before, if you want to be here for that. The Fourth of July is a good time too, and that's on a Saturday, so you can come and celebrate with us if you want, or you can come for Dad's birthday party. He's turning 65 this year and his birthday is August 18th, which is a Tuesday, so we'll probably have the party the weekend before. Otherwise, you can come anytime in between."
"That gives me something to think about, so I'll talk it over with Brenda to see if she likes any of those choices better than the others. Then we'll call and let you know what we decide."
"That will work fine, but just give us time to rearrange our schedules, no matter which week works out best for you."
We chatted about a few other things after that, before Pat went in to spend some more time with the boys. He felt badly that they had to leave so early, since they were flying out later, so he wanted to see what else he could do with them while he was here. I'm not sure he was prepared for what Benny and Joshie suggested, because they wanted Pat to play video games with them. He was a good sport and agreed to give it a try, although he wasn't having a great deal of success.
"That's alright, Grandpa Pat. I wasn't very good at first either. You'll get better if you keep playing, though," Benny informed him. Pat smiled before he replied.
"Ok, but I don't have much time to do that. We'll be leaving pretty soon."
"You can play more when you come back the next time," Benny offered, unfazed by his grandfather's comment.
Pat played at least one video game with each of the other boys before he told them his hands were beginning to cramp up and he had to quit.
"I'm not sure I would have survived if I'd been born into this generation," he complained when he sat down with the rest of us. "I'm not very good with these electronic devices and merely felt good when I conquered the computer."
"Yes, these boys develop an aptitude for these things and can make Danny and I look like beginners too," Brandon replied.
"Better you than us," his father concluded.
Just before noon, Brenda and Pat went upstairs to pack their suitcase and prepared to leave. When Pat carried it downstairs, he and Brenda went to say their final goodbyes to the boys.
"We love each of you and we'll see you again in the summer," Brenda stated after saying goodbye to each one individually and giving each of them a kiss. Pat had given each boy a hug as he said goodbye to them.
"We'll miss you and thanks for the presents and taking us out," they all managed to respond, with slight variations on how it was worded. It all meant the same thing, however.
I carried the suitcase out to the car for them, and then we all waved as they backed out of the driveway and drove off. It had been a short, but enjoyable visit, and I was certain we were all looking forward to their next visit.