Alyssa's BIG Birthday Wish


"Can't I open just one present?" Alyssa pleaded.

"You know the rules, Peanut," Mommy said. "Not until after the cake."

It seemed too long to wait, Alyssa thought. Dinner was over finally (they'd had pizza - Alyssa's request); she had been too excited to eat much, and now Mommy and Daddy were cleaning up a little and giving everyone a chance to settle a bit before bringing out the cake. Grandpa, sitting in Daddy's chair with Johnny on his lap, said, "Why don't you let her open her present from Grandma and me?" Grandma and Grandpa liked to spoil her. They liked to spoil all the grandchildren.

"Well..." Mommy hesitated. Then she smiled. "Oh, all right!"

"Yayy!" Alyssa cried happily, running to get the small, prettily wrapped package from Grandma.

When Alyssa tore off the wrapping paper and opened the box, she was even happier - inside was a beautiful, gold, heart-shaped locket - her first piece of real grown-up jewelry! The necklace clutched in one fist, Alyssa rushed to hug and kiss first Grandma, then Grandpa, hard. "Thank you, Grandma! Thank you, Grandpa!"

They laughed. "You're welcome, honey!" they replied.

Alyssa ran to show off her new treasure. "It's gorgeous!" Emily cried. "I can't wait 'til I'm eight."

Johnny touched it with his finger. "It's pitty!"

Josh rolled his eyes. "Girl stuff," he muttered, pretending to be disgusted.

Mommy and Daddy admired the locket too. "It's beautiful, honey."

Alyssa asked, "Can I wear it to Sunday school, Mommy?"

Mommy thought a minute, then said, "Well, all right, Peanut - but just this once. You don't want to lose it, and it will be so nice for you to have when you are older. But as a special birthday treat - OK."

All the while they waited for the cake to be brought out, Alyssa practiced putting her new necklace on, then taking it back off.

It was just after they finished singing and Alyssa had puckered up to blow out the candles (eight of them, with Josh's special one in the middle making an extra one to grow on) when the Awful Thing happened. Alyssa had set her new locket down by her plate so that she could grip the table with both hands while she leaned over the huge chocolate cake, and that's when A.J., wide-eyed from the singing, spied it. The gold charm was gleaming brightly, reflecting the candlelight, and the delighted little boy leaned over the arm of his high chair and grabbed the chain just as Alyssa let out a big breath. With a happy crow, A.J. twirled the locket in mid-air.

The candles were out, but Alyssa forgot the cake in her panic. "A.J., give it to me!" she cried. She lunged forward, A.J. jerked his arm back - and lost his hold on the chain. The family saw the shining charm sail across the kitchen, straight into the open door of the pantry, and fall - ker-plunk! - down behind the washer.

Alyssa's eyes filled with tears even as the grown-ups gathered around the washer, with Emily on top of it and Johnny pointing to it saying "It went down there!"

Daddy had a flashlight in his hand. "I can see it!" he said. He switched off the flashlight. "Come on, everybody back to the table." He tousled Alyssa's hair. "Don't worry, Sissy. I'll get it for you tomorrow."

"But why not tonight, Daddy?" Alyssa asked tearfully. She had only had her precious present for half an hour, and already it was lost.

"Peanut, I'm going to have to take that folding door off the pantry before I pull the washer out." Daddy told her. "My tools are in the garage, and I left the keys to the garage over at the church. Don't worry; that locket isn't going anywhere."

"You'll have lots more presents tonight, Alyssa," Mommy added.

Alyssa couldn't help giving A.J. an angry look. Grandma saw it.

"Honey, try not to be angry with your brother," Grandma said. "He didn't mean it. He'll be big someday, you know, and then he won't make mistakes like that."

Alyssa muttered under her breath, "I wish he were big now."

Mommy called out, "OK, who wants some ice cream with their cake?" A chorus of voices - including Daddy's - yelled out, "ME!"

Then Emily, too excited to wait, came over carrying a stack of small presents, while Johnny brought one big one. Alyssa started to feel better. After all, her locket wasn't lost forever, and she had some more presents to look forward to, plus cake.

"Don't forget to make a wish, Alyssa!" Josh said teasingly, trying to get her mind off the locket.

Her wish! Alyssa had forgotten. She had blown out the candles, but then the excitement had made her forget all about her wish. She hoped it was not too late.

"Don't tell anyone what it is, or it won't come true," Josh said slyly.

"I won't tell anyone," Alyssa said with dignity.

She waited until no one was looking, then whispered to herself, "I wish I had a pony!"