“Do you know what holiday is coming up?” Aunt Abby asked the eight expectant cousins.
“Christmas!” shouted red-headed Imogene.
“Well, it is coming, but not next,” Aunt Abby said.
“Halloween! I’m a ghost!” yelled Bruce.
“I’m a princess,” said Jules.
“Nope. We just celebrated Halloween, remember.”
“What then?” said Constance.
“Thanksgiving,” Aunt Abby said.
“Thanksgiving?” asked Joshua.
“What is Thanksgiving?” said Jude and Rook together.
“How about a story?”
“Yes!” shouted all eight cousins.
“Inside voices,” Aunt Abby hushed them. “Grandpa’s taking a nap.”
Once upon a time, eight cousins, four cowboys and four cowgirls, slept soundly in their beds at Grammie and Grandpa’s little ranch. Outside Clyde the Donkey and Hobbes the golden Labrador raised their heads and sniffed the fall wind. Trouble was coming.
Twisting and turning, the grumbling gremlins rode wild autumn leaves down into the cold yard. They ignored the warning bark from Hobbes and the loud bray from Clyde. One by one they crept up on the porch and slipped in through the windows. With naughty giggles, they went to each of the children and sprinkled grumbles all over them. Full of disobedient winks, they hurried back outside to visit other homes and other cousins.
The sun came up and Grammie made a big batch of waffles with blueberries, eggs, and bacon. The coffee brewed filling the house with wonderful morning smells. Jules and Ellie stumbled from bed first.
“Grammie, the house smells funny,” Jules complained.
“I don’t want waffles,” Ellie said.
“Well, aren’t we grumbly,” Grammie said going to wake the others.
One by one, the cousins tumbled out of warm beds, and one by one they complained.
“Jude took my spoon,” Imogene whined.
“No one gave me a fork,” Jude said.
“I don’t like eggs,” said Rook.
“I don’t like this morning,” Joshua said with a pout.
Constance crossed her arms and said, “Grammie. I don’t want this food. I want a cake.”
Grammie sighed. “You can’t have cake for breakfast,” she said.
“I don’t want any of it!” Bruce declared.
“I do like waffles,” Bruce said.
“I know you do Bruce, but remember this is a story about the grumbles. Do you ever grumble?”
“No I don’t.”
“What are grumbles?” Constance said.
“It’s when you complain and are unhappy with things.”
“Oh, I’ve had the grumbles before,” Bruce said.
Things did not improve as the day continued. Complaints were voiced about movies, toys, chores, and each other. Grammie tried to sooth everyone. She tried and tried to help the little ones and challenge the big ones. She prayed and prayed for the eight grumbling children. Nothing seemed to help.
“Hobbes is too big.”
“Clyde won’t let me pet him.”
“A bug bit me.”
“A don’t like this dress.”
“You can’t play with that, it’s mine.”
“He took that.”
“She told me what to do.”
Hobbes and Clyde hid from the grumbling children. Grammie and Grandpa wondered what had gotten into them. Finally, Grandpa had enough. He called all the cousins into the living room.
“There is far too much complaining and grumbling going on today and not enough thankfulness,” he said.
“What’s thankfulness?” Bruce said.
“Thankfulness is when you are happy for what you have. It is when you realize you don’t deserve what you have and you are glad someone gave you what you don’t deserve.”
All eight cousins looked at Grandpa.
“Let’s try this,” Grandpa said. “Bruce, what are you happy for?”
“Nothing,” he grumbled.
“Well,” Grammie said. “I’m glad all of you are here.”
“I’m not,” said Jules.
“Nope, you have to be thankful,” Grandpa said.
“For what?” Constance said tears filling her eyes.
“Do you all have Mommys and Daddys that love you?” Grammie asked them.
“My Mommy loves me,” Jules said.
“Mine too!” the others chanted.
“Well, are you glad she loves you?” Grandpa said.
“Yes,” said Jude with a hint of a smile.
“What else?” said Grammie.
“You love us,” Imogene said.
“Do you know other kids don’t have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that love them?” Grandpa said.
“That’s sad,” said Constance.
“It is sad,” Bruce said. “Does anyone love them?”
“That’s why you should be thankful,” Grandpa said.
“I love Jules!” Ellie said.
“Yes,” Grammie said. “You have each other. How about a ‘let’s all be loved’?
The cousins all gathered together and surrounded each other in a big hug.
“LET’S ALL BE LOVED!” they yelled together.
One by one, all the grumbling gremlins fell away.
“I’m thankful for cranberry relish,” Bruce said.
“I’m thankful for puppies,” said Joshua.
“I’m thankful for Mommy and Grammie,” said Jules.
“I’m thankful for this house,” Ellie said waving her arms.
“I’m thankful for Clyde and Hobbes,” said Constance.
“I’m thankful for Grandpa,” said Imogene.
“I’m thankful for toys!” said Jude.
“I’m thankful for food,” said Rook.
“See,” Grammie said. “We should all be thankful, not complaining and grumbling. We have so many things. We’ve been blessed by God. We shouldn’t have grumbles.”
The eight cousins agreed. They rushed outside to give Clyde and Hobbes a hug.
The grumbling Gremlins floated away, unable to stay in a thankful family.
“The end,” Aunt Abby said.
“I complained this morning,” Bruce said. “I don’t like this shirt. Did the grumbling Gremlins come to me last night?”
“No, they’re not real Bruce, but the Bible says complaining is wrong. You need to be thankful. Be thankful you have a shirt to wear when it’s cold.”
“Is that what Thanksgivings about?” Jules said.
“Yes, it’s the day we’re thankful for all the Lord’s given us and we have a big feast to celebrate His generosity.”
“I’m thankful for you,” Constance said.
“I’m thankful for you too, all of you.”
“Let’s all be loved,” sang Imogene.
“And God bless us, everyone,” Aunt Abby said.
“AND GOD BLESS US, EVERYONE!” shouted Jules, Constance, Bruce, Joshua, Ellie, Imogene, Jude, and Rook.