A Great Big Party

By Debbonnaire Kovacs

Solomon Nassim El-charif had to sit on his suitcase to close it. When he finally got the lock shut, he stood and went to his bedroom window to see if Dad was home yet. He couldn’t wait until they left for Washington, D. C. There would be a huge family party, with relatives he hadn’t seen in a long time and some he’d never even met. The family might not be quite as big as Jacob’s and Esau’s were when they were reunited, but it would be close! Solly was really looking forward to the wedding week. Although he had to admit he was even more excited about seeing the capital of the United States.

Standing at his window, he could see the beautiful red stable that housed his family’s Arabian horses, with its perfect fenced riding ring. He could also see, through the trees, part of the Farmers’ old barn and house next door. The house could use a coat of paint, and the barn actually had boards missing. Solly was sure the winds whistled through there in the winter. It was nearly the end of October now, and the weather had suddenly turned cold.

His eyes wandered to the gardens Mrs. Farmer had helped his mom make. The only things still blooming were some yellow chrysanthemums. But somehow, the garden still looked beautiful. There were red rose hips and purple leaves on a small Japanese maple. A vine climbing up the gazebo shook its yellow leaves in the wind. Mrs. Farmer has a talent for making gardens beautiful anytime, Solly thought.

His father’s car turned into the driveway, but Solly didn’t run down the stairs as he had been waiting to do. He looked through the trees at the beat-up van the Farmers drove. Then he walked thoughtfully downstairs.

“Good evening, Son,” Father greeted him. “Are you packed and ready? We leave first thing tomorrow morning, you know.”

“Yes, I just finished,” Solly replied, still thinking about Susannah’s family.

“What’s the matter? I thought you were looking forward to this trip,” Solly’s father asked.

“I am. I’m really excited about it. I was just thinking about something else.”

“What were you thinking about?” Mother asked. She had just come in the door. “Are you thinking about our wonderful trip?” She sounded even more excited than Solly had been a few minutes ago, and he grinned.

“Yes, I am. I mean, I was. But what I was thinking just now was how unfair things are.”

“Unfair? What things?” Father sounded surprised.

“Well, don’t you think Susannah’s mother works just as hard as either of you?”

“At least!” Mother said.

“Harder!” Father made a funny face.

“Then why are they so poor and we’re so rich?”

“We’re not exactly rich,” Father began. “We’re just—”

Mother looked at him. “Just what?”

“Rich,” Father admitted. “We have each other. Susannah’s mother has to provide everything her children need all by herself. And you’re right, Solly. Some things are not fair in this world.”

“But we cannot change the world,” Mother told him.

“We can change our piece of it,” Solly insisted. “I just think we should share our blessings.”

“You are a very kind boy,” Mother told him, ruffling his hair. “You are right, we should, and we do. We hired Mrs. Farmer to do our garden planning, and she is going to care for our house while we are gone. We have sent the horses to a boarding stable, so they will not add to her work. Can you think of anything else we could do?”

Solly thought. “We could baby-sit sometimes. Sara and I could, I mean. I know you two don’t have time. And we could invite them to dinner more often.” He couldn’t think of anything else. “I’ll think about it.”

At the dinner table, right at the moment that he was passing the mashed potatoes to his sister, Solly cried, “I’ve got it! And she’ll love it.”

“What?” everyone around the table asked at once.

“Let’s throw a huge party. We’ll decorate the whole house and get special food. In fact, let’s do two of them—one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. We’ll hire Mrs. Farmer to plan the whole thing, because you know those party planners cost a fortune.”

Mother and Father looked at each other and laughed. “And how would you know this, young sir?”

“I heard you say so, when we had that big party for Father’s promotion. But wait, that’s not the best part. We hire her to plan and to provide the decorations, because nobody decorates better than Susannah’s mom—”

“True,” Mother nodded.

“But we order the food she chooses from a catering company so she won’t have to work, because she will be invited to the party too! And all the kids. And you can have all your grown-up friends, and Sara can have all her teenage friends, and Susannah and I can have all our Primary friends! Won’t it be great?”

Solly’s family all beamed at him.

“I think it’s awesome,” Sara exclaimed.

“I think it’s a great idea. We haven’t had any parties in our new house, and we’ve lived here for months already,” Father said.

“I think I am very proud of my son,” Mother said.

Solly squirmed a little.

Just then the doorbell rang. Mrs. Moore answered it, and the El-charifs heard laughter and voices. Curious, they left the table and went into the living room. The entire Farmer family was at the door, and every one of them was loaded down with boxes, bottles, jars, and bags.

“I meant to bring this earlier,” Mrs. Farmer explained. “I know you’re leaving first thing in the morning, and I wanted you to know it was all here, put away and ready for you when you get back. Mrs. Moore knows all about it, and she and I will put it away, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.”

Solly’s parents looked bewildered. Solly felt the same way. Nobody asked, so he did, “But what is it?”

“Food!” Susannah exclaimed. “We’re sharing our garden with you, because you didn’t really have a vegetable garden. Flower gardens are great in spring and summer, but vegetables and fruits are great all year.”

“But . . . you didn’t have to!” Father sputtered.

“Oh, yes, we did!” Matt chimed in. “We’re sharing our blessings with those who aren’t as blessed as we are!”

Everyone laughed and laughed. Solly laughed the loudest and longest. He felt much better.

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