Birthday Cookies

(Based on a true story that took place in the 1960s)
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them (Matt. 7:12).

Cammie’s mouth watered as she watched Leanne pass out her birthday treat—cupcakes trimmed with candies. She watched Leanne place one with purple candies on Josh’s desk, a huge one with pink candies on Shelly’s desk, and another one with chocolate candies on Nick’s desk. Cammie could hardly wait to see which one Leanne would give her. As she approached Cammie, Leanne frowned at her. “I know we’re not good friends, but she’ll still give me a good cupcake,” Cammie thought.

Leanne looked over the few cupcakes left in the box and selected a tiny squashed cupcake with only one candy on it. Looking down at the floor, she plopped that one onto Cammie’s desk. All the kids in Cammie’s row looked at her and whispered to each other. Cammie’s eyes burned with unshed tears. “I won’t cry,” she told herself. “Leanne’s just a snob. She won’t play with anyone but her own group of friends.” Cammie bit her lip and stared straight ahead.

After class, on the playground, Cammie talked to her best friend, Becky, about what had happened. “Just wait until my birthday next week,” Cammie said. “I’ll have something really special for my treat and I won’t give her any, or I’ll give her a really ugly one. Then she can see how it feels.”

That evening Cammie and her mom planned the treat Cammie would take to school the following week. Since Cammie loved chocolate, they decided on chocolate chip cookies.

“Mom, can we decorate them with lots of chocolate candies?” Cammie asked.

“Sure, that would look nice,” her mom answered. “You can put them on yourself, if you’d like.”

“Oh, I’ll put them on all right,” Cammie thought. “I’ll make Leanne’s really special.”

The following week, Cammie nibbled on chocolate candies as she helped her mom bake the cookies. “Don’t eat them all before you decorate the cookies.” Mom laughed.

Cammie grinned and pushed the bowl of candies away. She spent the next hour carefully placing candies on each cookie as it came out hot and gooey from the oven. She put a variety of colors on some cookies and only blue and red or yellow and brown on some. She made a special one for Becky. Soon there were only a few cookies left to decorate.

“Now, for the one to give Leanne,” Cammie thought. She found a small, lopsided cookie and squished it in the middle, leaving a dent. Then she picked a misshapen chocolate candy and plunked it down on top of the small, crooked cookie. “That will serve her right,” Cammie thought.

After she said her prayers that night, Cammie lay awake thinking about how awful Leanne would feel the next morning. Thinking about it made Cammie feel bad all over again. “Should I do it? Am I doing the right thing?” she wondered. Finally she fell asleep, undecided.

At school the next day, Cammie’s class looked excitedly at the giant cookies with their bright trimmings. Cammie made a special effort to show them to Leanne. Leanne just sniffed and said, “They’re OK.” Then she sneaked another peek at the cookies. Cammie smiled to herself.

“All right, children, we have another birthday treat today,” the teacher announced. “Cammie, would you pass out your treat? My, it looks delicious.”

Cammie started passing out the cookies, not paying much attention to who got each one. “That way no one feels bad,” she thought. “No one but Leanne.” Leanne slid down in her seat with an uneasy look on her face.

Soon Cammie had passed out all but the last three cookies. Only two students remained: Leanne and Jody. Cammie gave a huge one to Jody, then turned to look right into Leanne’s eyes. When she saw how unhappy Leanne looked, she remembered what she had been thinking about the night before. Cammie knew how Leanne felt. She took a step forward and moved her hand toward the ugly little cookie. She froze as she saw a pleading look and tears in Leanne’s eyes.

“She did the same thing to me first,” a little voice inside her said. “But you know how it feels. Do you want to make someone else feel that way, too?” she thought. Suddenly the words, “‘Love your enemies’” and “‘do good to them that hate you,’” * came into her mind. Would she really feel better by making Leanne feel bad?

“Are you almost finished, Cammie?” her teacher asked as Cammie hesitated.

Cammie slowly picked up the bigger cookie, one with many colored candies on it, and placed it carefully on Leanne’s desk. “I made this one especially for you,” she said. Leanne’s mouth dropped open as she stared up at Cammie. Then Cammie returned to her desk and ate the squished little cookie herself. She had never tasted a better cookie.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Mark Robison