The Birthday Present

Based on a true story
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost … shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance (John 14:26).

Kaylie’s fingers shook as she opened the brightly wrapped present. “Hurry up,” Erica said. “I picked it out just for you.”

Kaylie couldn’t remember a better birthday party. Her parents had let her plan the party all by herself. She had invited 10 friends. They’d had cake and ice cream in the kitchen, then went to her bedroom to open presents.

Erica, her best friend, had told Kaylie that she’d brought something “way cool.”

Eleven now, Kaylie wanted grown-up clothes. She’d be going to middle school next year and wanted to look like Erica and the rest of the girls in her class. They all wore clothes bought from stores in the shopping mall.

Kaylie’s dad had started a new business last year. There wasn’t money for new clothes, so her mother made her clothes or bought them from the thrift store.

“Finally!” Erica exclaimed when Kaylie’s fumbling fingers undid the tape.

Kaylie ripped the paper from the box and lifted the lid. The girls squealed as she pulled the blue sweater from the box.

“It has a butterfly on it,” Erica said.

Kaylie collected butterflies. She had butterfly barrettes, notebooks, and necklaces. But it wasn’t the butterfly that she was staring at. The sweater had tiny straps, so thin that they were practically invisible.

“Th—thank you,” she stuttered. “It’s beautiful.”

“Try it on,” one of the girls suggested.

Kaylie went into the bathroom. She pulled off her T-shirt and slipped on the sweater. It fit perfectly, but she had never worn anything so revealing.

“Cool,” the girls shouted when she went back into the bedroom.

She wore the sweater for the rest of the party, but she didn’t feel comfortable in it.

After Kaylie thanked each of the girls for their presents and walked them to the front door, she joined Mom in the kitchen.

Mom raised her eyebrows at the sweater. “One of your presents?”

“Erica gave it to me. She knows I like butterflies.” One of the straps slipped from her shoulder. Self-consciously, she pulled it back in place.

Mom put down the carrot she was grating and gestured to the kitchen table. Kaylie knew that look. Her mom was getting ready to tell her something important.

“I know,” she said before Mom could say anything. “It’s different from what I usually wear.”

Mom waited a long time before speaking. “It’s not very modest.”

“Erica’s my best friend.” Kaylie knew she sounded defensive. “You’re probably going to say I can’t wear it.”

Mom shook her head. “No, I’m going to let you decide what to do.”

Kaylie knew her mom was telling her that she was old enough to make her own decisions. Sometimes she wished she could go back to being a little girl.

“You know our standards,” Mom said. “I know you’ll make the right decision.”

Kaylie wandered back to her room. She looked at all the presents she had received. Ordinarily, she’d be showing her parents everything. Now she couldn’t think about anything but the butterfly sweater. Once again, the strap slipped from her shoulder. She knew she would never feel comfortable wearing the sweater and changed back into the T-shirt she’d been wearing earlier.

She remembered the sharing time lesson in Primary last week. Sister McClure had asked Jason to blindfold Sam. Sam then had to walk across the room. Sister McClure said Sam would have to listen carefully to Jason, who would whisper the right directions to him. At the same time, the other children and teachers called out to him, trying to lure him away from the straight path.

When Sam made it to the other side of the room, Sister McClure thanked him and then asked if he’d had a hard time crossing the room blindfolded.

Sam nodded and said that all the voices had confused him and tempted him to stray from the path. Only Jason’s directions had kept him going in a straight line.

Sister McClure said that members of the Church had someone who could lead them in the right direction because he talked with Heavenly Father. She asked if the children knew who that was.

Kaylie raised her hand. “The prophet.”

Sister Rojas, the chorister, then led them in singing “Follow the Prophet” for the closing song.

The words of the song echoed through Kaylie’s mind now.

What would the prophet do? Kaylie knew the answer instantly. He would never do something that made him feel uncomfortable. The confusion that had clouded her mind cleared.

An idea flashed through her mind. She pulled the sweater over the T-shirt, then looked at herself in the mirror. They looked good together. She walked back to the kitchen.

Her mom wrapped an arm around Kaylie’s shoulders. “I knew you’d figure out a solution.”

Kaylie hugged her mom back.

[Be True]

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“Be true to your own convictions. You know what is right and you know what is wrong. You know when you are doing the proper thing. … Be faithful. Be true.” President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Six B s,” Friend, Feb. 2001, 25.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney Kawasaki

Jane McBride Choate is a member of the Big Thompson Ward, Loveland Colorado Stake.