Alena skipped into her grandma’s house with her mom and dad. She had a big smile on her face. Grandma Stanley was busy in the kitchen. Alena smelled the ham, the apple pie, and her favorite treat—homemade bread.
“How’s my girl?” Grandma said. She scooped up Alena to give her a kiss. “I’m so glad you’re here to celebrate my mom’s birthday.” Alena grinned. She loved family get-togethers. And today was extra special. It was her great-grandma’s 90th birthday.
“Time to eat!” Grandma called from the kitchen. Mom put the last few dishes on the table.
Grandma ushered everyone into the dining room. Aunt Alyson took pictures of the family. Alena silently counted 15 people around the big oak table. Dad offered the prayer. As soon as he said “Amen,” everyone started dishing up the food.
While the family ate, Great-Grandma Grish told stories from when she was young.
“When I was Alena’s age, I loved to eat clabbered milk. I don’t think I’ve had that dessert for 80 years.”
“What’s clabbered milk?” Alena asked.
“After milking the cow, my mother would pour the cream from the milk into a small bowl and set it on the stove overnight. In the morning the milk looked like custard. I would sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar and eat it like yogurt.”
“What did it taste like?” Alena asked.
“De-licious,” Great-Grandma said. Everyone laughed as Alena scrunched up her face in a silly frown.
Aunt Alyson took more pictures of the family as they listened to the guest of honor.
Great-Grandma finished her last piece of bread and butter, and Aunt Sandy handed her a few gifts.
Alena was sad. She hadn’t brought a present for Great-Grandma. But she wanted to give her something special for her 90th birthday. Suddenly she had an idea. She ran to Aunt Alyson and whispered in her ear.
Aunt Alyson smiled and winked at Alena as Great-Grandma opened the present from Alena’s mom and dad. Alena quietly stood next to Great-Grandma and smiled. Aunt Alyson snapped a picture.
When Great-Grandma finished opening all her presents, Alena giggled and said, “You have one more to open, but you’ll have to wait a few days.”
“I can hardly wait,” Great-Grandma said, giving Alena a squeeze.
A week later Great-Grandma got a package from Alena. Inside was Alena’s note: “Thank you for sharing your stories about when you were my age. Here is a special reminder of your special day.” In a purple frame was a picture of Alena smiling next to her Great-Grandma Grish.
One Sunday before breakfast, my mom told me that my great-grandma could not take care of herself anymore. They wanted to put her in a nursing home, and she was not used to the new place. My family was fasting for her. Mom asked if I wanted to fast too. I said, “I’ll try.” My tummy growled and growled, but I did the very best I could to help my grandma.
Elizabeth T., age 9, North Carolina, USA