“Aunt Abby!!!!” Bruce yelled at the top of his lungs. Jules, Ellie, Constance, and Joshua chimed in until there was a high-pitched cacophony of little boys and girls yelling Aunt Abby’s name. Imogene and Jude looked up from their coloring books, surprised by the noise. They rushed over with shouts and giggles to make sure they weren’t left out.
“Inside voices,” said several Moms at the same time.
“Look what I can do!” Bruce whispered loudly.
“What? What? I’m watching!” Aunt Abby said.
“No, look what I can do,” Jules said.
“No, what I can do,” Ellie said.
“Wait,” Aunt Abby said before anyone else could start yelling. “Why don’t we put on a Talent Show.”
“A Talent Show?” Jules said raising her eyebrows. “What’s a Talent Show?”
“It’s when you show everyone you’re talents,” Aunt Abby said with a smile.
“Oh,” Constance said still confused.
Aunt Abby hurried the cousins into Grammie’s nursery and had them stand in line.
“Okay, Bruce, you start. What can you do?”
Bruce blew a very loud and wet raspberry. All six of the other cousins did the same. Ellie linked her arms around Aunt Abby’s neck and said, “Look what I can do?” Aunt Abby turned away from the inevitable spray of saliva.
“Look! What I can do?” Ellie said.
“I’m looking,” Aunt Abby said, her face still turned away.
“Look! What I can do!” Ellie said again and again until Aunt Abby looked down into her eyes. Elle blew a huge raspberry spraying Aunt Abby.
“Eew! Gross!” Aunt Abby said wiping spit from her face.
Everyone crowded around her, tongues out and lips pursed.
“Wait!” Aunt Abby said. “You can’t all have the same talent. We need to find specific talents for each of you.”
“Why?” said Jules.
“Because you’re each different people with different skills and different gifts from God.”
“What’s skills?” Imogene said.
“Is it something bad?” Jude said.
“No! It’s something very good. Now let’s sit down and think. There’s still lots to do if we want to put on a Talent Show.”
“Like what?” said Jules.
“Like flyers and we need a stage and a curtain.”
“I want to fly,” said Ellie.
“No, not flying. Flyers are pieces of paper used to invite people to a show. Let’s go ask Grammie for some construction paper and crayons, and let’s go ask Grandpa about using the porch as a stage.”
“I bet Grandpa can make a curtain,” Bruce said.
“I bet he can. Let’s go!”
(Several Hours Later)
Aunt Abby stood on the steps of the front porch. A curtain hung behind her hiding giggling cousins. Arranged before her was two rows of chairs. Great Gran, Grammie and Grandpa, Matt and Ruth, Emily and Brian, Jason and Joy, Liz and Brad, and Price all clapped loudly with their different colored fliers in their laps as Aunt Abby introduced the first cousins.
“Ladies and gentlemen, ” she said in a loud voice. “Please welcome Jude to the stage here to impress you with his perfect and award-winning smile.”
Jude toddled out from behind the curtain after a gentle push from Constance and stared at his family. His mamma, Emily, gave him an encouraging smile. Jude grinned from ear to ear. Everyone clapped and Jude smiled even bigger. Everyone clapped agreeing that Jude had a wonderful smile.
Aunt Abby announced Imogene after hurrying Jude down to his waiting parents. Imogene bowed to the audience, ran out around them and leapt at the tree in the flower bed. With nimble fingers and toes she climbed the trunk. Clinging to branches, she made her way to the very top where she waved at the family. Every one applauded while she climbed back down and ran to her Mom and Dad.
“Next up,” Aunt Abby said, “We have Joshua.”
Joshua came out from behind the curtain with Aunt Liz’s dog, Violet, at his side. His blue eyes sparkled.
Violet licked his face with a big wet tongue and sat down.
“Lay down, Violet.”
The dog laid down, resting her huge head on her paws.
“Bang!” yelled Joshua pointing his fingers like a gun.
Violet rolled over on her side.
The family laughed and laughed, clapping at Joshua’s trick. He gave them a deep bow and took Violet down to Aunt Liz before climbing up in his Daddy’s lap.
Ellie came next with her perfect smile. She bowed to her family and then said, “I’m not afraid.”
With arms flung wide, she jumped off the porch, over all three steps, and landed perfectly in Grammie’s path. Several Mommies gasped and then everyone cheered. Ellie giggled and sat down.
Constance followed her out with a handful of flowers clutched tightly. She smiled shyly and held the flowers up for everyone to see. “This is a Bluebonnet, the state flower of Texas,” she said. “And this is a rose, and this is a daisy, and this is an Indian Paint Brush, and this one is yellow.” Then she reached in her pocket and pulled out a rock. “And these are rocks. They’re very pretty.”
“Woot woot!” cheered Aunt Liz. Everyone joined in clapping loudly. Matt even stood up to clap louder.
Constance blushed and hurried to her Mama.
“Bruce, please come share your Talent,” Aunt Abby said.
“Please,” Aunt Abby said.
Bruce peaked around the curtain at the audience. Uncle Jason yelled his name. Everyone started chanting, “Bruce. Bruce. Bruce.”
Stepping out, he held up his fist, closed tightly.
“Do you know what it is?” he asked.
“NO!” everyone answered at once.
He opened it to reveal a four-inch long grasshopper. It leapt from his fingers off into Grammie’s flowerbed.
“And I have this,” Bruce reached into his pocket and produced a long earthworm. It slithered to the end of this fingers and he dropped it in the dirt.
“Last, this,” he reached behind the curtain and produced a jar. Inside sat a large yellow and black swallowtail butterfly.
“It’s so pretty,” Constance said from the audience.
Bruce opened the jar and the butterfly flew away while the crowd oohed and ahhed.
“Yay Bruce,” Aunt Abby said clapping to send him off to sit with his parents.
“Last, but far from least, we will end this most impressive Talent Show with Jules.”
Aunt Abby waved her hand at the curtain.
Jules stepped out and clasped her hands in front of her.
“For my Talent, I’m going to recite a poem:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
Jules bowed. Jason stood, applauding loudly. Everyone else stood cheering, yelling, and clapping.
“What was that?” Aunt Em said.
Jason bopped her on the head. “Tolkien of course.”
Em sighed. “Of course.”
Aunt Abby waved all the cousins back onto the porch and they all bowed to their adoring audience.
“Watch what I can do?” Bruce said. He blew a giant raspberry.
Jules, Constance, Joshua, Ellie, Imogene, and Jude took one glance at him and all blew a raspberry as loudly and slobbery as they could.
“If you can’t beat them,” Aunt Abby said. “Join them. ” She blew a raspberry too.