Anna will never forget the day her mom made her go to a birthday party.
“I’m not going,” Anna said. “She’s a new girl named Ruth, and all my friends aren’t going. She asked the whole class, all 36 of us!”
Anna’s mom studied the handmade invitation and she looked sad. Then she announced, “Well, you are going. I’ll pick up a present tomorrow.”
When the day arrived, Mom rushed Anna out of bed and made her wrap the pink mirror-brush-and-comb set she’d bought as the present.
They drove over to Ruth’s house. Ruth answered the door and motioned Anna to follow her up the staircase. Stepping through the door brought Anna some relief. The hardwood floors gleamed in the sun-filled parlor. Snow-white doilies covered the backs and arms of well-worn overstuffed furniture.
The cake sat on the table. It was decorated with nine pink candles, a messily printed Happy Birthday Ruthey. 36 Dixie cups filled with homemade fudge were near the cake – each one with a name on it.
“Where’s your mom?” Anna asked Ruth.
Looking down at the floor, Ruth said, “Well, she’s sick.”
“Oh. Where’s your dad?”
Then there was a silence, except for a few raspy coughs from behind a closed door. 15 minutes passed … then 10 more. Suddenly the terrifying realization set in. No one else was coming. “How could I get out of here?” Anna thought and as she sank into self-pity, she heard muffled sobs. Looking up she saw Ruth’s tear-streaked face. All at once her heart was overwhelmed with sympathy for Ruth and filled with rage at her 35 selfish classmates.
“Who needs them?” Anna proclaimed loudly.
Ruth’s startled look changed to excited agreement. Then, there they were – 2 small girls, 1 cake, 36 candy-filled Dixie cups, ice cream, gallons of soft drinks, 3 dozen party favors, games to play and prizes to win. Anna sang “Happy Birthday” while Ruth made a wish and blew out the candles on the birthday cake.
In a flash it was noon and Anna’s mom came to pick her up. Gathering up all her goodies and thanking Ruth repeatedly, Anna dashed to the car and she was bubbling over.
“I won all the games! Well, really, Ruthey won one but she said it wasn’t fair for the birthday girl to win a prize, so she gave it to me, and we split the party favors 50/50. Mom, she just loved the mirror set. I was the only one there – out of the whole class. And I can’t wait to tell every one of them what a great party they missed!”
Mom pulled over to the curb, stopped the car and hugged Anna tight. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I’m so proud of you!”
One person could really make a difference. Anna had made a big difference in Ruth’s ninth birthday, and her mom had made a big difference in Anna’s life.