Of course, seventh-grader Joe, with his long legs, won the race. But Jane wasn't far behind.
"What have you got in there?" questioned Joe as Jane laid a gaily-wrapped package on the kitchen table.
"My Mother's Day gift. It's nice Mother isn't home this afternoon when we're trying to smuggle her gifts into the house!" answered Jane.
"I'm glad too," added Julia. "I would never have gotten this flower in without her seeing it." She laid her second grade library book on the table, then asked, "What is in your package Jane?"
"A recipe book," answered Jane. "We each brought a recipe. Then the teacher compiled them into a book." Her sixth-grade teacher always had such clever ideas, and Jane knew Mother would be delighted with her gift. "What did you make, Joe? You didn't bring anything home for her, did you?"
Joe munched on his apple but answered between bites, "Brought it home the other day already."
"Brought what home?" wondered Julia. "What did you make?" She was a bit impatient with Joe's slow answer.
"Aw, you girls might tell. Better keep it my secret," teased Joe.
"Come on! Tell us!" demanded Jane. "It's no fair. You know what we're giving."
Okay. . . . Promise you won't tell? Both of you? Positive?" Joe rolled his big brown eyes about as he challenged his impatient sisters.
"Don't waste our time," snapped Jane.
"And what makes you so busy?" challenged Joe.
"I have an idea for all of us," Jane replied. "We need every minute we've got until Mother and Daddy get home. So out with your secret, Joe. Then I'll tell mine."
Of course Julia was doubly curious now.
Joe wasn't so sure about Jane's idea. Sometimes she came up with clever ones, but the next time they were good for girls only. "Okay, I'll say. I made a wren house in shop. Now what's your bright idea all about?"
Jane spelled it out. "Today during study period I got to thinking. We're all making something for Mother. But what about dear old Grandma? There's a verse that says something about remembering your mother when she's old. Who'll remember Grandma if we don't? She's like a second mother to us since she's Mother's mother."
"Mother will remember her. Always does for Mother's Day," replied Joe.
"That's right! And Mother is a part of my gift idea!" continued Jane.
"How's that?" wondered Julia.
Jane went on with her plan. "You see, Grandma is the one who raised our wonderful mother for us. Now Grandma's awfully lonely since she's a widow. Wouldn't it be nice to 'give' Mother back to Grandma for a day?"
"How could we ever do that? I'd miss her!" Julia said, half fearful she'd lose her mother for good.
"You see, we'll all pitch in and do Mother's Saturday chores. We can begin right now. Then tomorrow Mother can go spend the day with Grandma. Giving Mother for the day would be our gift to Grandma. Mother would enjoy having the day off too." Jane looked at her brother's and sister's faces for their approval of the plan.
Julia agreed instantly.
Joe wasn't about to be caught up in what he considered woman's work that easily. "Sounds okay for you girls," he admitted. "But I better go get the chores done Daddy told me to do when I get home."
After they had changed clothes, the girls got busy and Joe headed for the barn.
The girls began by vacuuming and dusting the living room. Next Julia took the old newspapers and tin cans out. She cleaned the washbowl and swept the kitchen floor.
Jane, a bit disappointed that Joe hadn't enthusiastically cooperated with her plan, was cleaning the windows. "If he doesn't help, I guess we girls can surprise her anyway," she concluded.
"What is that noise?" asked Julia. "There's someone on the front porch."
"Look! There is someone on the front porch!" answered Jane. "It's Joe! He's scrubbing the front porch. So he decided to help us after all. Great!"
In short order the furniture was dusted, the rugs were shaken, and the floor was washed.
"Can you believe that we're almost done? Cleaning never goes this fast other times. And I didn't do a shipshod job either," stated Julia.
Jane giggled. "You mean slipshod." She was amused at her younger sister's efforts to use new words. "No, we did do a good job of cleaning even if we did do it in a hurry. Guess that would be another gift to Mother, if we'd always hurry to get our chores done instead of making her coax us to work."
"Here are some bluebells I picked," said Joe as he entered the kitchen. "Got enough for a bouquet for Mother and Grandma. I picked a bunch of tea while I was in the meadow. I know Grandma likes tea."
"Oh good! Thanks for helping us with the plan, Joe," said Jane, as she arranged the bluebells in a vase.
"Here they come! Mother and Daddy are here," called Julia.
The door opened. "Surprise!" chorused the three children. Then they told their mother they were 'giving' her to Grandma for the day.
Joe, Jane and Julia weren't disappointed to see Mother wipe tears from her eyes. They knew they were happy tears--the kind mother's cry when their children honor their parents and grandparents the way the Bible teaches.
A special thanks to The Wallings for typing up this story for Anabaptists!
From Stories for Every Season
by Verna M. Martin
© Christian Light Publications
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