Chain Reaction


“I give up,” Sandy sighed sadly. “I can’t think of anything. I never can when it’s my week.”

It was Monday afternoon, and Sandy was in charge of the family home evening activity. Justin and Carol had the easy parts—the prayer and the scripture. The cupcakes Mom made for refreshments were already frosted and dotted with red sprinkles.

Just as Sandy started to ask her mom for an idea, Justin ran into the kitchen with his best friend, Stanley, right behind him. Justin bounced his basketball on the kitchen floor with one hand while his other hand reached out for one of the sweet-smelling cupcakes.

“No you don’t,” Mom said quickly. “If you take one and Stanley takes one, and if Carol comes home with her friends, the next thing you know, there’ll be a chain reaction and all the cupcakes will be gone!”

“Aw, Mom.” Justin frowned and bounced his ball back outside.

After he left, Sandy thought about what her mother had said. “What’s a chain reaction?” she asked.

“Well,” Mom replied, “it’s when one thing causes something else to happen, and the second thing causes a third thing to happen, and so on. It’s like a little bit of snow can be the start of a big snowball. You know—one thing leads to another.”

Mom’s explanation started a chain reaction of thoughts in Sandy’s mind, and suddenly she had a wonderful idea. She bounced over to the sink where her mother was peeling potatoes. “Mom, do we have to eat the cupcakes for family home evening?”

“I thought that was your favorite part. What did you want to do with them?”

Sandy grinned. “Can we give them away?” she asked.

“I suppose so. Why?”

“I can’t tell you now,” Sandy said mysteriously. “I have work to do.”

Sandy hurried to her bedroom and took out a pencil and some paper. Slowly and carefully, she made up a poem:

You can play the chain-reaction game;
It isn’t hard to do.
Next family night just hide some treats,
Like these we hid for you.
But when you make a special treat
And take it out to hide it, Don’t forget to run real fast—
And leave this poem beside it!

After Sandy made two copies of the poem, she ran back to the kitchen to wrap up two packages of cupcakes.

That night during family home evening, Sandy explained her chain-reaction game to her family. As soon as it was dark, they quietly hurried down to the Moffitt’s house with one package of cupcakes. They put it on the doorstep, rang the doorbell, and hid behind the bushes. Mrs. Moffitt came out and exclaimed happily when she found the surprise.

Sandy’s family went just as secretively over to the Stavros’s house on the next block and left the other package for them.

A few weeks later, while Sandy was helping Carol set the table for dinner before their family home evening started, the doorbell rang. Mom was stirring spaghetti sauce, so Dad went to answer the door. There on the doorstep was a fancy paper plate heaped with chocolate chip cookies. And taped to the top of the plastic wrap was a copy of Sandy’s poem!

Dad laughed. “Sandy,” he called, “I’ve discovered the best part of your chain-reaction game!”

[illustration] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney