“Gift from Alice,” Friend, Mar. 2003, 14
Katie* was going roller-skating for her birthday party and was thinking about whom to invite. She wanted Jenny and Vicki to come—they were in her Primary class. She would invite Teresa, too, of course. She was Katie’s best friend.
As Katie waited for her Primary teacher to start the class, she noticed Alice walk in. Alice didn’t come to Primary very often. Her clothes looked worn, and her hair wasn’t combed. Katie thought that Alice’s words sounded funny when she talked and that Alice smelled strange. Alice hardly ever said anything at all. She mostly just sat there with her head down. Katie thought that Alice had probably never been invited to a birthday party.
Katie had been to Alice’s house once, when Mom was delivering something to Alice’s mother for Relief Society. Alice’s family was very large, and Katie wondered where they all slept, because they lived in a small trailer. When Mom had knocked on the door and one of the older children answered, Katie could see how dirty it was inside. Mom explained what she had and asked that it be given to Alice’s mother. The boy didn’t say anything. He just took it and shut the door. Katie was glad for her own clean home, even if she did have to share a room with her older sister, Tara.
Looking at Alice now, Katie remembered that visit, and she felt bad for the sad-faced girl sitting alone. She thought about Jesus and how He treated those who were poor, or sick, or didn’t fit in.
The next day when Mom asked if she was ready to work on birthday invitations, Katie announced that she would like to invite Alice.
Katie wondered what her friends might think and what Alice might wear. Most of all, Katie worried that Alice wouldn’t come. Katie talked to Mom and to Tara about her concerns, and they worked out a plan.
When it came time to deliver Alice’s invitation, Katie had butterflies in her stomach. Tara went to the door with her. A circle of little faces appeared, but no one spoke. “Is Alice here, please?” Katie asked.
One child left, and a few moments later, Alice was at the door. “Here.” Katie thrust the white envelope toward her. “This is for you. It’s an invitation to my birthday party.”
Alice didn’t say anything, but she looked surprised.
“It’s next Wednesday,” Katie said. “My mom and I will pick you up at eleven.” Katie and her sister said good-bye and got back in the car with big smiles on their faces.
On the way to Alice’s house Wednesday morning, Katie said a silent prayer that Alice would come. When she and Mom arrived, Alice’s whole family was outside. Katie felt awkward with all those children staring at her. She was relieved when Alice came toward her and silently followed Katie into the back seat.
At Katie’s house, Alice was welcomed by Tara.
“We have a while before the other girls arrive,” Katie told her. “Let’s go to Tara’s and my room.”
In the bedroom, Alice looked around, amazed. “Wow! Your room is really pretty!”
Tara opened the closet. “I think we are the same size,” she said to Alice. “I can lend you some pants and a shirt, if you’d like. Then you won’t have to roller-skate in a dress.” She pulled out a pair of blue pants and a matching top. “I think these will fit.”
“You can get dressed in there.” Katie pointed to the bathroom.
Alice looked into the bathroom and seemed ready to cry. “What’s wrong?” Tara asked.
Alice whispered, “Can I wash my hair, please?”
“Of course!” Katie told her kindly. “Would you like us to help you wash it in the sink?”
Tara and Katie helped Alice wash her hair. They helped her comb and style her hair, then left her alone to bathe and dress.
When Alice came out, there was a smile on her face. It was the first time Katie had ever seen her smile.
“Let’s eat,” the sisters said as they led Alice to the kitchen.
Alice didn’t say much during lunch, but she seemed to enjoy the food, and she ate everything on her plate.
After lunch, Tara took Alice aside and showed her the present she had gotten for Katie. “I have some paper we can wrap it in, and a marker to sign our names.”
“Oh!” Alice was excited. “I would love to give Katie a present.”
She and Tara wrapped the present and printed their names neatly on the outside.
Then the other party guests started to arrive. Katie had told her friends that Alice was going to be there. Each greeted Alice kindly, and soon she was talking with everyone. They opened presents and ate birthday cake. On the way to the roller rink, Katie didn’t get to sit by Alice—one of the other girls wanted to.
Katie and Teresa took Alice’s hands and helped her skate around the circular room. Alice giggled with delight. Katie had never heard Alice laugh before. Soon everyone was taking turns being Alice’s partner.
One of the girls came up to Katie and said, “I wish I had invited Alice to my birthday party.”
“There is always next year,” Katie said.
When the party was over, Mom took Alice home. Before getting out of the car, she grabbed Katie’s hand, squeezed hard, and said, “Thank you.”
As Katie rode home, she thought about her birthday presents. She liked them all, but her favorite one was the smile, laugh, and “Thank you” from Alice.
“Some lessons in life are learned from your parents, while others you learn in school or in church. There are, however, certain moments when you know our Heavenly Father is doing the teaching and you are His student.”
President Thomas S. Monson
First Counselor in the First Presidency
From an October 1995 general conference address.