Why can’t Grandma be like Caroline’s grandmother?” complained Gina as she folded the towels. “Yesterday Caroline’s grandmother sent her a new skateboard. It’s really neat! She gives her presents all the time. Grandma never gives me anything.”
Mother stopped in the middle of changing the baby’s diaper. “Gina! I’m surprised at you. Grandma Ross loves you and has always been very good to you. You’re nine years old now and that’s old enough to understand love doesn’t need a price tag. Grandma Ross doesn’t have money to spend on fancy toys. She started working when Grandpa became ill, and most of her money pays for his hospital bills.”
Gina could feel her face getting hot. She knew that what Mother said about Grandma Ross was true, but knowing didn’t make her feel any better. She carried the towels into the hall closet and stacked them neatly on the shelves. “I’m through,” she announced. “Now may I go with Caroline? She said I could try out her skateboard.”
Mother put little David down to crawl on the floor. She sighed and looked at Gina. “You may go after you set the table. And remember to put on an extra plate. It’s Thursday and Grandma Ross will be here for supper.”
Gina pretended she was skateboarding around the dining room as she put the plates on the table. Then she grabbed the knives, forks, and spoons. Mmm, mmm. Her arms were outstretched to balance her skateboard pose as she sailed behind the chairs and placed the silverware beside each plate. “I’m finished, Mom,” she called to the next room. “Now may I go?”
“Yes,” her mother answered, “but be home in time for dinner.”
With only thoughts of skateboarding in her mind, Gina ran up the hill and around the corner to the familiar brown house. Caroline answered the bell. “Hi,” she greeted her friend. “I thought you’d never come!”
“Well, I’m here!” Gina said breathlessly. “Where is it?”
Caroline opened the screen door and pushed the slender skateboard out for Gina to admire. It was bright red with glistening flecks of many different colors. She spun the wheels and they made an even, purring sound.
“Wow! What a neat skateboard!” exclaimed Gina. “How did your grandmother know what kind to buy?”
“Well,” confided Caroline, “last time she called I hinted around a lot …” Her voice trailed off and she looked at Gina. The two girls giggled. “C’mon, let’s go.”
Gina watched enviously as Caroline balanced herself on the board and then breezed past her down the sloping sidewalk. She could hardly wait for her own turn. Finally Caroline handed her the shiny skateboard, but Gina promptly fell off. After a few more tries she managed to stay on, and soon she was feeling like an old pro. Gliding down the hill made her heart pound, but she loved it. Finally Gina noticed that the sun had gone down. “I’ve got to go home,” she said quickly. “My grandmother’s coming for dinner—Thursday night, you know.”
Caroline reached down for the skateboard and tucked it under her arm. “You sure are lucky, Gina,” she said. “All my grandparents live so far away I hardly ever get to see them. Well, sometimes I see them on Christmas and sometimes in the summer, but they don’t just come over for dinner like your grandmother does.”
Gina looked at her friend in amazement. “But your grandmother sends you presents all the time,” she said. “All that furniture for your dollhouse, new games and clothes, and now a skateboard. I wouldn’t mind all that.”
“Sure, that stuff’s OK, but it’s not like having a real person who can be with you. Well, see you tomorrow at school.” Caroline’s voice seemed a bit sad to Gina.
“Bye, Caroline,” Gina said softly, staring after her friend. Suddenly many thoughts went racing through her head. Maybe Caroline did have a lot of things sent to her, but she didn’t have a grandmother who played checkers with her, guessed at her riddles, and always came to school for open house. She didn’t have a smiling grandmother to give her a warm hug every Thursday night.
Gina smiled as she ran down the hill toward home, thinking gratefully of a loving grandmother who would be waiting there to greet her.