“Wooden Skis,” Friend, Dec. 2000, 15
Carl swept back the curtain of his bedroom window and squinted out into the day. This was going to be great! Lots of sun. Lots of snow. And lots and lots of skiing.
Carl slipped out of bed, and his feet hit the floor with a thump. Pulling a pair of wool socks out of his dresser drawer, he imagined the exciting day ahead at a ski hill called Bear Gulch. Funny name, he thought as he slipped the socks over his feet and slid awkwardly across the hardwood floor, pretending to ski.
Whoosh! He could almost feel the snow under his skis, packed firm and cold in some places, fine and bouncy in others. And he loved the smell of the mountain air, cold from snowfall and scented with pine and fir. He loved the way the crisp wind whispered past his ears as he glided down the slope.
Carl’s family did not have a lot of money for things like skiing, and it had taken Carl three weeks of extra chores to earn enough for his ski pass. For three dollars, he could buy an all-day ticket for the rope-tow, a heavy motor-driven rope that pulled skiers to the top of the snowy hill. It seemed like a lot of money, but it sure beat hiking up with his skis.
His mother set a bowl of hot cereal in front of him, and Carl started on it hungrily.
“Are we in a hurry today?” she asked with a smile.
“You know, Mom—today’s the day I go with Joe and Marty to Bear Gulch. Remember?”
“Yes, I remember. What about your morning chores?”
“They’re finished. I worked on them last night so I would be ready.”
“All right, all right, Champ. I’ll pack you a lunch.”
Carl sat down and buckled on his old boots. They were hand-me-downs—an old pair his uncle had worn when he was a boy—but they were oiled up and in pretty good condition. Next, Carl picked up the wooden skis his father made for him and leaned them by the kitchen door. Let’s see, he thought. Hat, yes; mittens, yes. Everything was ready except for checking his money. Carl pulled a small leather pouch out of his pocket and carefully dumped the coins onto the kitchen table. He counted each coin. Three dollars—just enough for one ticket.
At that moment, Carl’s father walked into the room. “Son, did you remember to pay your tithing last Sunday?”
Carl hesitated. A long moment passed. “No,” he said sadly.
“Well,” said his father, “you choose what you want to do.”
Of course, Carl wanted to ski. He sat down at the table and stared at the coins. There weren’t that many of them. Did his father really expect him to pass up this opportunity after waiting and working and saving so long? Did the Lord really need these few meager coins for a tithe? His father had said to choose what he wanted to do. Carl wished it were that simple. It would be easy to do what he wanted to do. Then he thought about what his Heavenly Father might want him to do.
The two red-cheeked faces of Joe and Marty appeared in the front window. They were so close that their breath steamed the pane instantly and their faces were lost in the fog on the glass. Carl walked to the front door and opened it slowly.
“Hi, fellas. I can’t go.”
Joe and Marty exchanged glances. “But don’t you want to go?” asked Marty.
“Sure,” said Carl. “But I also want to do the right thing.”
He returned to the table and with one finger drew three dimes away from the rest of the pile. He stayed home that day and paid his tithing to the bishop the next day.
The following week, the ski resort lowered its ticket price to two dollars and fifty cents.
On the next Saturday morning, the sun was not shining, but the snow was crisp and bright. Carl’s wooden skis and his oiled leather boots were ready to go. His wool cap was pulled down snug over his ears. It was going to be a cold day, but a special excitement warmed him all over because he had done what Heavenly Father wanted him to do. As he handed his money over for the ski ticket, he thought about how glad he was that he had chosen to pay his tithing and how good he felt now, because he had.