Corey had a plan. Not just an ordinary plan, but a terrific plan. His dad had put a platform on the biggest branches of their old sycamore tree, and now Corey was going to build a clubhouse on the platform. For weeks he’d gathered old boards and leftover wood scraps given to him from the construction site at the end of his street.
“It’s going to be a big job,” Mom told him after inspecting his woodpile. “How do you plan on making it?”
Corey just shrugged and smiled. “You’ll see,” he said.
That afternoon Corey got out the little red toolbox that was given to him for Christmas the year before. He frowned as he hefted the hammer. It was smaller than he remembered. He sighed, put the hammer back, and closed the toolbox lid. It would have to do.
Mom gave him a handful of nails from the large can on Dad’s workbench, and Corey went to work, being extra careful not to hammer his thumb. It was much harder than he had expected it to be. But while he arranged the boards and hammered the nails, he thought about what a great clubhouse it was going to be.
By the time Dad arrived home that evening, Corey had two walls finished. The boards teetered precariously, but Corey was sure that the branches would help keep them up. He imagined his friends and himself having very important meetings in the clubhouse.
Dad came out to inspect Corey’s work. “Hey, pal,” he commented, “that’s quite a project. What’s it going to be?”
Corey’s eyes sparkled. “A clubhouse! I’m going to start a club, and I’m only going to invite my very best buddies. No one can come into my clubhouse without an invitation.”
Dad nodded thoughtfully. He left for a few minutes, then came back with his big toolbox. “Need a hand?” he asked.
Corey grinned. “All right!”
Corey and Dad worked together, straightening the crooked spots and securing loose nails. They built the other two walls, a fine roof, and a sturdy, pull-up ladder. When they were finished, Corey looked proudly at their work. It was even better than he’d hoped—it was perfect!
“Now I’m going to make the invitations to my club,” he told Dad as they sat down for dinner.
“I want to be in your club,” Sara pleaded as she picked at the casserole on her plate.
Corey looked at his little sister. “This is a club for my closest friends,” he told her. “You can’t come without an invitation.”
As Corey lay in his warm bed that night, he thought about his clubhouse. All at once, he knew who he would give the first invitation to. He couldn’t have built such a terrific clubhouse without Dad. There probably wasn’t a better buddy in the whole world. He would be a super club member. Corey fell asleep wondering whom else to invite to join his club.
After school the next day Corey colored bright invitations and tucked them into envelopes. Mother set a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies on the counter where he was working, and she kissed him on the cheek.
In his very best handwriting, Corey spelled Dad on the first envelope. He picked up a cookie and took a big bite. He frowned a little, trying to decide which of his friends to invite. After all, the club was only for his best buddies.
Corey watched Mom folding clothes at the table. He looked at the delicious cookies she’d baked for him. It was pretty certain that nobody did more for him than Mom. He smiled as he thought, I’ll invite Mom to my club too. And as he left the invitations on their pillows, Corey imagined how happy Mom and Dad would feel to be invited to his club. He felt happy himself, just thinking about it.
While Corey was doing his chores that night, he was still trying to decide whom else to invite to his club. As he rinsed the dinner dishes and placed them in the dishwasher, Sara came in the kitchen. “Can I help?” she asked.
Corey pulled a stool to the counter so that Sara could hand the dishes to him. They laughed together when warm water splashed across a plate and sprayed both their faces. Sara was a pretty good pal. Later that night, after she had gone to bed, he wrote Sara’s name on the third envelope and left it in her shoe.
Little Benny, Corey’s baby brother, was doing a funny dance when Corey realized that his club just wouldn’t be complete without Benny. He left Benny’s invitation next to his stuffed lamb.
The next evening the family began arriving at the clubhouse. First Dad, then Sara, then Mom and Benny. They brought their invitations with them and showed them to Corey at the bottom of the ladder.
Sitting in a circle on the floor, they laughed and sang and munched on popcorn that Mom had brought from the house. It was probably the best family night ever. And Corey was certain that his club was the greatest club in the universe because he had the best buddies a guy could ask for.