The Birthday Party

By Maritza Brunt

pexels ivan samkov 9628344

“Lucas!” called his mother. “Hurry! You’re going to be late for school!”

Lucas was on his knees in his bedroom, shoving things into his backpack.

“Coming, Mum!” he called. Where was his math book? He was always losing his math book! Suddenly, he spotted it sitting on top of his fish tank. He grabbed it, tapped the glass to say goodbye to his goldfish, Chomper, and closed the door behind him. Bounding down the stairs, he swiped an apple from the fruit bowl on the counter and bit into it.

“Bye, Mum!” Lucas called.

“Have a great day!” his mother called back from the laundry.

Lucas hurried to the car where his Dad sat waiting behind the wheel. He loved morning car rides with his Dad! They would talk about all kinds of interesting things, but this week was extra-special. Dad had been helping Lucas with a project for his Bible class at school, and Lucas couldn’t wait to fill Dad in.

Sure enough, as they turned onto the main road, Dad took a big drink from his water bottle and asked Lucas, “So, how’s your project coming along?”

“It’s going great!” Lucas replied, pulling the book from his backpack. His class was learning all about the Fruits of the Spirit, and they had to draw a piece of fruit next to each one. Then they had to find a way to put that particular quality into action, and write about it.

So far, Lucas had drawn a pineapple, a pear, some cherries, and an orange. He looked down at his half-eaten apple and smiled. He knew which fruit he’d be drawing today.

“Which fruit of the spirit are you learning about this week?” Lucas’s dad asked.

“Kindness,” Lucas replied.

“Oh, that’s a good one!” his dad said enthusiastically.

“Yeah, I guess so,” said Lucas. “Everyone else in the class has pretty much already filled out this one. Casey said he took out the rubbish bin for his mum. Alice said she picked some flowers for the old lady who lives next door.”

Lucas’s dad nodded thoughtfully. “It sounds like your friends have done some kind things this week. But you’ve been helpful around the house—I’ve seen it!”

“I know, Dad, but I want my act of kindness to be REALLY special!” said Lucas. “Not something I can do every day.”

“Well,” said Dad, “You’ll just have to ask God to place those special opportunities in your path.”

“Okay,” agreed Lucas. And he squeezed his eyes tightly shut and prayed the rest of the way to school.

When Dad dropped him off, Lucas ran to his locker. He wanted to get out onto the playground to find his friends, but he had to put his books away first. As he opened his locker, a single piece of paper fluttered out and landed on the ground.

What’s this? Lucas wondered, picking it up.

It was an invitation to a birthday party! Lucas liked the colourful sun design on the border. Scanning the invitation, he saw it was for Miguel, the new kid in his class. Lucas felt a sudden hint of shame as he realised he hadn’t really spoken to Miguel since he transferred to Lucas’s school a month ago. He had seen him at church and introduced himself in class, but not much besides that. Lucas didn’t even know Miguel’s last name!

I wonder why Miguel invited me to his party when he doesn’t really know me, thought Lucas.

Just then, the bell rang. Lining up outside his classroom, Lucas was joined by some of his friends.

“Hey, did you get an invitation to Miguel’s party?” he asked his friend Casey.

“Of course. The whole class got one,” said Casey. “But I’m not going!”

“What? Why not?” asked Lucas.

“Miguel’s weird,” said Casey.

“But we haven’t even really talked to him!” said Lucas.

“Well, I’m not going,” Casey decided firmly.

“Neither am I,” said Alice, who had been listening from her place in the line. “No one really talks to Miguel. I don’t know why he invited us.”

Lucas looked over at Miguel, who was standing by himself at the end of the line. He was about to go over and say something, but just then his teacher appeared in the doorway. All day long Lucas looked for Miguel, but the boy seemed to be very good at hiding. Finally, it was home time. Frustrated, Lucas ran down the hill to the pick up area, relieved to see his Mum’s car waiting for him.

“Mum, can I go to a birthday party?” asked Lucas as he climbed into the car.

“Well, hello to you too!” laughed Mum. “Whose birthday party is it?”

Lucas told her all about the new kid, Miguel, and how none of his friends said they were going to go.

Mum looked surprised. “Miguel’s dad is the new pastor at our church, Lucas. His family seem like lovely people. Let me call Miguel’s mother tonight, and then we’ll see if you can go.”

That night, Lucas couldn’t sit still while his mum was on the phone to Miguel’s mother. He popped his head into the kitchen so many times that finally Mum gave him one of her Mum-looks. Lucas knew what that look meant. He backed off.

After the longest wait in the world, Mum came out of the kitchen.

“You may go to the birthday party, Lucas,” she told him.

Lucas did a victory lap of the kitchen and pumped his fist in the air. “Yes!”

His mum shook her head, smiling. “I wonder why your friends don’t want to go. Miguel seems like a sweet kid, but his mother was saying he hasn’t had a single person respond to his party invitation.”

Lucas was shocked. “Not one?”

“Not one,” said Mum.

As Lucas lay in bed that night, he couldn’t stop thinking about Miguel.

If I was the new kid at a school, I would hope somebody would want to be my friend, thought Lucas. I should have paid more attention to Miguel. Well, tomorrow is a new day!

The next day at school, Lucas made a beeline for Miguel before Miguel could disappear again.

“Hi, Miguel!” he said. “I’ll come to your party!”

Miguel nearly dropped his bag of chips. “You will?”

Lucas noticed that the playground had suddenly become very quiet. Everyone had heard what he said, and everyone was looking at him. Lucas looked back at Miguel.

“Yep!” he declared. “I can’t wait! I love parties. And it will be fun getting to know you better. Do you like soccer?”

“I love soccer!” replied Miguel, warming up to Lucas.

“Cool. Let’s play!” said Lucas. And he took off for the oval with a grinning Miguel following close behind.

That night, Lucas’s mum was on the phone again.

“Lucas,” she called when she was done. “What did you do at school today?”

Uh-oh, Lucas thought, quickly running through everything he had said, done, and eaten that day.

“…Not much, Mum?” he answered carefully.

Mum appeared in the doorway of his room. “I just got off the phone with Miguel’s mother. She says every kid Miguel invited to his party has now responded to say they will be going!”

Lucas sat right up in his bed. “Really, Mum?”

His Mum smiled. “I don’t know what you did today, but it sure made a difference.”

The rest of the week flew by. Lucas was counting down the days until Sunday, Miguel’s party, but also worried that he still didn’t know what to write for his Fruits of the Spirit project. He needed an act of kindness!

On Sunday, the weather was sunny and warm. Lucas jumped out of bed, got dressed in record speed, and hurried down the stairs. After breakfast, his dad came in from the garden.

“Ready to go, buddy?” he asked Lucas.

Lucas grabbed the soccer ball he’d chosen and helped Mum to wrap for Miguel. “Ready!”

Miguel’s family didn’t live very far from Lucas’s house. When Lucas knocked on the door, Miguel’s mother answered.

“Welcome, Lucas!” she said with a big smile on her face. “Everyone is in the family room.”

Lucas couldn’t believe his eyes when he entered the room. Colourful banners and balloons were everywhere, and he spotted some of his friends, Casey included, having fun with a tabletop soccer game. Alice and another girl were playing air hockey. Miguel, the birthday boy, was standing at the food table loading his plate with homemade churros. Lucas headed over and handed the gift to Miguel.

“Happy birthday, Miguel!” he said.

“Gracias, Lucas!” replied Miguel. “Thank you!” He took the gift from Lucas and set it aside. Offering Lucas a churro, Miguel suddenly went very quiet. Kicking his shoe against the table, he finally looked up. Lucas was surprised to see tears in his eyes.

“This is the first birthday party I’ve ever had where kids from my class have come,” Miguel told Lucas.

“Really?” Lucas couldn’t believe it.

Miguel nodded. “My dad is a pastor, so we get moved around a lot. It’s fun to live in new places, but moving around so much kind of makes it hard to make friends. And I don’t really know what to say when I start at a new school. But you were kind to me when no one else was.”

Lucas didn’t know what to say.

“But Miguel, all I did was accept an invitation to your birthday party! And I wasn’t even kind to you when you first arrived. I was too caught up with my own friends. I’m sorry.”

Miguel shook his head.

“My mum told me that this time would be different. She told me to pray about it. The morning I put the invitations into everyone’s lockers, I was praying the whole way to school. And God answered my prayer! Because of your kindness, this is the best birthday party I’ve ever had.”

Lucas slowly shook his head, amazed. Then he suddenly remembered something.

“Miguel! That same morning you delivered your invitations, I was praying on the way to school, too! I was praying God would give me an opportunity to be kind. I wanted a big act of kindness, but I see now that something as simple as saying yes to your birthday party is such a special way to show kindness!”

Miguel smiled.

“I think you’ve found this week’s Fruit of the Spirit, Lucas,” he said.

Lucas smiled back. He couldn’t wait to get home and tell his parents all about it. But first… there were churros to eat, and a new friend to celebrate.

pexels ivan samkov 9628334

PICTURE CREDIT- Photo by Ivan Samkov

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