“Best Day for Presents,” Friend, Jan. 1995, 20
“How long is it until my birthday?” Jonathan asked Mother one cold, snowy day when he couldn’t go outside to play.
“Four months,” Mother said. “Why?”
“Oh, I just wondered. How long is it until Susan’s birthday?”
“Don’t you remember? Susan’s birthday was just last month,” Mother said. “It will be eleven months before she has another one.”
“Oh,” Jonathan said. “Christmas was last month too.” He sighed as he walked down the hall. More than anything, he liked times like Christmas and birthdays.
“I like getting presents,” Jonathan told his dog, Wags, when he got to his room. “I like giving presents too. I wish today was Christmas or a birthday so we could have presents.”
Suddenly Jonathan realized that he hadn’t asked Mother about her birthday or Dad’s. He ran back to the kitchen.
“No,” said Mother, looking up from the big pot of soup she was stirring. “Neither Dad nor I have one today. Why do you keep asking about birthdays?”
“Oh, I just like them.” Jonathan trudged back to his room. He opened the bottom drawer of his dresser, where he kept his special treasures. “If it was Mother’s birthday,” he told Wags, “I could make her a crayon print with these leaves I saved. Mother liked the crayon print I made her at kindergarten. She liked it a lot.
“If it was Dad’s birthday,” he told Wags, “I could give him this nice block of wood I found in the park last week. Dad’s always looking for wood that he can carve into animals.
“If it was Susan’s birthday,” he told Wags, “I could give her five of my best marbles. They would look very pretty at the bottom of her fish tank.”
Jonathan gave a deep, big sigh. “Oh, Wags,” he said, “I do wish it was someone’s birthday, or Christmas, or any day at all when I could give a present!”
Then he smiled, “Maybe, just maybe, today is a day when I can give presents. He grinned a big grin. “Yes, it is!” he told Wags. Then he went to work.
First, he put his pretty leaves under a sheet of paper. Carefully he rubbed across the paper with red and yellow and orange crayons.
Next, he took out the block of wood and wiped it with tissue paper so that it would be nice and clean for Dad to carve.
Finally, he counted out five of his prettiest marbles.
“It’s time for dinner,” Mother called.
Jonathan carried his presents to the dinner table and placed them beside the right plates.
“Presents for everyone!” he exclaimed when Dad and Mother and Susan sat down.
“But it isn’t our birthdays,” said Mother. “I told you that.”
“And it isn’t Christmas,” Susan and Dad said at the same time.
“No, it isn’t a birthday or Christmas,” Jonathan said. “It’s another special day I thought of—it’s today! And I decided that today was the best day for giving ‘just because I like you’ presents!”
“What a lovely idea,” Mother said. “As soon as we’ve eaten, I’ll hang up this picture where we can all enjoy it.”
Dad said, “This block of wood is just the kind I like for carving.”
Susan said, “The marbles are really pretty. Thank you, Jonathan.”
Jonathan was smiling from ear to ear. He had more treasures in his bottom drawer, and lots of friends he could give presents to on another “just because I like you” day.