“Sweet Solutions,” New Era, Dec. 2002, 42
On the morning of the last day of school before the Christmas holidays, I had the strangest thought pop into my head. I was tying bows around bunches of gourmet candy canes to give to my friends when my mind said, “You should give one of these to Megan*.”
What a crazy idea! Megan, a very popular girl in my English class, was terribly mean. In addition to the rude things she said to me, she and her friends were always giggling and pointing in my direction. She made me feel horrible. Why should I give Christmas candy to someone like that?
Today was always the best day of the whole year at Valley Middle School. Like the last day of school in June, schoolwork would be pushed aside in favor of movies and games. But what made it even better than that was the candy we exchanged with our friends. As we went from class to class, our stacks of goodies grew and we found out who liked us enough to put us on their gift list. You could tell who the really popular kids were by their enormous piles of candy. Someone like Megan would have to bring an extra bag to carry everything. She certainly didn’t need anything from me.
I was confident I would have a respectable pile of sweets myself. I was nowhere near being part of the popular crowd, but it was a big school, and I had a large group of friends. However, because I was one of the few Latter-day Saints in the school, I really stood out. Anyone who stands out too much in middle school becomes a target for teasing, so, unfortunately, I had as many tormentors as I had friends.
It is sometimes really tough to know how to deal with people who pick on you. I had long ago decided that the best way was just to ignore them. But sometimes this just didn’t seem to work. Earlier that school year, two girls in my science class had hurt me so much with their cruel words that I finally burst and fired similar cruel words right back at them. This landed me in detention, and I spent a miserable afternoon picking up trash. Worse than the actual punishment was how horrible I felt inside. I knew my actions weren’t Christlike, and that hurt me more than anyone’s awful words ever could. After that, I stuck like glue to my old policy of keeping silent and expressionless, hoping people would get bored with me. But Megan still hadn’t given up trying to have fun at my expense, and I had been wondering recently if there were something more I could do besides just turning the other cheek.
Looking down at the candy canes in my backpack, I realized that the Spirit had just given me a solution to my dilemma. I thought of Matthew 5:44, in the Sermon on the Mount, where Christ says, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.”
“Well,” I thought, “it’s worth a try.” Even though the thought of doing such an unusual thing scared me, I told myself it couldn’t make the situation any worse.
I almost chickened out. It was the very end of the class period before I had the guts to approach Megan. When I called her name, she turned and looked very surprised that I was speaking to her.
“Here, this is for you.” I held out the candy.
She looked at me very suspiciously. I could tell she was trying to figure out what the trick was. I knew she thought I was trying to do something mean because she knew she’d never done anything nice to me. So I smiled and said, “Merry Christmas,” hoping she would trust me just a little bit.
She took the candy. When I turned to walk away, and it was clear that there were no strings attached, she said, “Thank you.”
I wish I could say Megan and I became friends after that. We didn’t. But she left me alone the rest of the school year, and her eyes lost that hard, malicious glint when she looked at me.
I like to hope I gave her more than just candy that Christmas. I hope that’s what happened, but maybe it didn’t. Maybe she never thought about it again. But I was changed for life after that simple exchange. I was filled with the joy of having done what Jesus would have done. The gift I gave her paled in comparison to the gift I received—a taste of charity, the pure love of Christ, a feeling sweeter than all the Christmas candy in the school.