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Paul Learns To Be Grateful Or Linda’s Invite

In the fall of 6th grade I got an invitation to a girl’s birthday party. Her name was Linda and she was a quiet, pretty girl with brown hair and brown eyes. I liked to tease her sometimes so she would laugh. I liked her laugh.

But I wasn’t used to being invited to parties, especially not girl’s parties. I checked around with my friends and the only other one that got invited was the new boy, Robin. I asked him if there were any other boys going and he said he didn’t think so. So I asked him if he was going to go and he shook his head, no.

Well, somehow Mom found out about the party and I explained to her that there weren’t any boys going. I’d be the only one. Mom seemed to be distracted that day and not really paying any attention.

Mom, I’d be the only boy going. What do want me to do?”

She looked at me and sat down her coffee cup. “You will pick out a nice present then you will go to the party, be polite and thank Linda for inviting you.” She said sternly.

I tried to not think about the party but the day came closer and closer and finally on a warm fall Friday afternoon on a day school got out early, it was time. Instead of getting off the school bus at my house I was to ride with the rest of the kids to Fort Dodge and walk to the park.

I was relieved when I noticed that Robin was riding the bus with me that afternoon. “So you’re going?” I asked him.

Yeah. My Mom said I had to.” He answered as he sat next to me, holding a brightly wrapped present. “I think she talked to your Mom.”

Yeah.” I said, “I bet they did.” I looked at my present that seemed a little scuffed up now that I held it next to Robin’s. I had kept it under my desk during the school day, hoping no one would notice it. Somehow I accidentally kicked it a few times. I wasn’t so sure but Mom said Linda would love the set of embroidered handkerchiefs. I’d rather get a skateboard myself.

Some of the other Mom’s were helping Linda’s Mom when Robin and I got to the park. Robin suggested we go exploring but I vividly remembered my Mom’s instructions.

No, maybe later.” I said.

Soon Robin and I were sitting with about seven or eight girls in a circle and trying to play the games the girls were so excited to play. But we didn’t do any running, jumping or whacking of anything. We just sat and I did my best to join in with girls while they giggled or clapped or sang songs. I tried not to scratch or wiggle too much and I dared not spit even though I really wanted to.

Finally the candles on the cake were lit and we sang Happy Birthday to Linda as she blushed and smiled. She blew out the candles and I was thinking finally…we get to eat cake and ice cream. What I was most looking forward to. But first we had to watch Linda open all her presents. She didn’t get one cap gun, Super Ball, Slinky or anything fun. But she seemed happy.

When it was all over her Mom said we could play in the park until it was time to go.

Robin and I ran off as fast as we could towards the swings but since the girls were following us we headed for the ditch and the culvert going under the highway. The girls kept their distance and Robin and I found some interesting bugs and frogs and tadpoles we tried to catch.

Soon we were called by the Moms and everyone was saying goodbye. Linda looked at me and I said, “Thanks for inviting me to your party, Linda. Happy Birthday.” Her grin seemed to get bigger. Then I was put in a car with Deanne and her Mom. I didn’t see what happened to Robin. I sat in the front with Deanne’s Mom and listened to their conversation.

Did you have a good time, Paul?” The Mom asked me after I sat quiet for a while.

Umm, it was ok.” I answered hoping the doubt I was feeling didn’t come out in my voice.

What was your favorite part of the party?” She asked then.

Umm,” I started to say trying to catch a tadpole, “…I liked the cake and ice cream, I suppose.”

Deanne and her mother laughed. “Paul is the nicest boy in our whole class!” Deanne gushed. Then she and her mother went over all the things the girls gave Linda and all the things they talked about and how nice they all looked. I guess I missed most of that as I watched the Kansas prairie go by.

Finally we turned into my driveway and I made a quick exit, then remembering Deanne’s proclamation of me being nice I turned around quickly and said, “Thanks so much for the ride home.” Deanne and her Mom grinned and hollered, “Goodbye Paul!”

Mom was in the kitchen starting supper and turned and looked at me when I walked in. “Was it a fun party?” She asked with a smile.

“Well…” I slowly said, “It was ok…Mom?”


Can I go for a walk before supper?”

Sure,” Mom said as she turned back to the potatoes she was peeling. “Change your clothes, first.”

As quick as I could I put on my old clothes, grabbed my BB gun and walked out the door heading for the hills and pastures behind our house. I took a few shots at some cactus plants and the windmill and a few jackrabbits and enjoyed the quiet of the late afternoon sunshine. As I scraped my feet in the dirt and watched the neighbor’s herd of black Angus cattle I began to feel more myself. Finally feeling like a boy again I went back home.

On Monday morning I got on our school bus and was daydreaming about what I’d do after school when we pulled into Linda’s long driveway. She and her brother got on and she walked by me and dropped a note in my lap then sat down a few seats behind me where she usually did.

I opened the note and in Linda’s neat cursive writing I read:

Dear Paul,

Thank you for coming to my party and for my gift.

I’m very glad you came.

Your friend,


I thought of Mom’s many admonitions. When someone gives you something, say thank you!”

For a minute I wasn’t sure what to do. But I looked back at Linda and when she saw me she smiled. And I smiled back, thankful that I had made Linda smile.

Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5.18

giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Ephesians 5.20

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2.4