Patina, what a fascinating story about Christmas traditions. Having just passed through the holiday, and having relieved a few of my own, the idea was especially captivating before the entire holiday season gets away for yet another year.
I think the Christmas traditions you gave the Cartwrights were just perfect. I was a little confused by the bonfire at first, but I understood by the end of your story. Thank you for all of the information at the end. It was a longer look at some interesting holiday customs I was not so familiar with.
Your prequel was perfect in that all of the brothers seemed in character to me. I could picture all of them quite well. Joe was just Joe - smaller, more inquisitive, and just as talkative as he grew up to be. Hoss had a growing appetite, and Adam had already perfected a deep sense of patience with his brothers. Also - it showed that Ben and Marie were deeply in love, something that is always lovely to read about.