Tomorrow was going to be such an exciting day. Sophie was trying to sleep, but when she thought about tomorrow, her eyes flew open again.
Pictures were chasing each other in Sophie’s mind ~ pictures of playing with her cousins, pictures of seeing a parade, pictures of eating cake, and pictures of watching fireworks.
Isabella was coming tomorrow. Isabella was six and she knew things. Isabella was Sophie’s most favorite cousin. When they visited each other, they would play and play and play together.
Tomorrow, Sophie would be five years old and at her house, there was going to be a picnic party in the orchard. All of her family was coming to celebrate.
When all the family came to visit their house, Sophie’s mother had on a special smile.
Sophie loved to have her aunts and uncles and cousins come to visit, but she especially loved to see her Nana and her Grandad.
Nana and Grandad would sit and watch everyone and they would have special smiles, too. Sometimes they would whisper to each other and they would laugh softly together. It made Sophie feel cozy, deep into her heart.
The next morning, all the family went to watch the parade in town. There were marching bands, big colorful floats, girl scouts, boy scouts, and lots of enormous horses. Flags were waving everywhere. Sophie thought it was the most wonderful parade she had ever seen. Just right for a fifth birthday.
After eating some of their picnic lunch, the cousins took off running for the tree house and swing set that Sophie’s daddy built for the kid’s play area.
Lying on their bellies in the swings, Sophie and Isabella talked about stuff, especially about fireworks. Sophie just knew that this year there were going to be very dazzling fireworks because she was having such an important birthday, a five-year-old birthday.
Isabella asked Sophie, “What do you mean, fireworks for such an important birthday? Do you think those fireworks are for your birthday?”
“Of course they are,” said Sophie, “every year we have a parade, a picnic, and fireworks ~ for my birthday party.”
“You dummy!” declared Isabella, “Those things aren’t for you, they are for the Fourth of July.”
“I am not a dummy,” shouted Sophie. “I know it is the fourth of July because that is my birthday, July 4th is my birthday”
“Yes, July 4th is your birthday, but it is a holiday. The Fourth of July is when everyone has picnics, and parades, and fireworks. Those things aren’t for your birthday. What a dumb thing to think,” said Isabella smugly.
Sophie started to cry. Grandad heard her crying and came over to see what had happened.
Grandad took Sophie over to back porch and sat down with her in the big green striped chair. “What is the matter with my birthday girl? You were having so much fun, what happened? This is supposed to be your special day.”
“Isabella called me a dummy.”
“Oh,” said Grandad, “why did she do that?”
“Well,” sniffled Sophie, “we were talking about the fireworks tonight and I told her they were going to be extra nice ones for my five-year-old birthday party.”
“Grandad, Isabella told me that the things we always do on my birthday are not for me, they are because the Fourth of July is a holiday. Is that true?”
“Yes, Sophie,” said Grandad gently, “the Fourth of July is also the birthday of our country, the United States of America. Every year since the year 1776 there have been fireworks and parades and other celebrations to remember this day as our country’s birthday.”
Sophie cried some more. “Then I am a dummy,” she said sadly. “I always thought we did those things to celebrate my birthday. They are so much fun, just right for a birthday.”
“My precious Sophie, just because you share your birthday doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Our family celebrates with you because we love you so very much. Of course you thought those things were being done just for you, no one ever told you before about Fourth of July being our country’s birthday. As you grow up you will learn more and more things about the world around you.”
Grandad called Isabella to come over to the porch to have a talk. “Isabella,” he said a little sternly, “would you like Sophie calling you a dummy or other mean names?”
Isabella shook her head, “No, Grandad, it would make me very sad.”
“Then you should understand Sophie doesn’t want to be called mean names either. You need to say you are sorry.”
Isabella told Sophie that she was sorry; then Sophie and Isabella gave each other a great big hug. Grandad reminded Sophie and Isabella that they should always be kind to each other and to other people, too. He explained that each person is God’s special creation and we should show respect to every person we see.
Grandad looked at Sophie and Isabella to make sure they were both listening. “Remember Sophie, just because Isabella called you a dummy doesn’t mean that you are a dummy.”
Then Grandad hugged Sophie and Isabella saying they were amazing girls and that he loved them very much.
Sophie and Isabella hugged Grandad back and told him that they loved him very much, too.
Right then, Sophie’s mother brought out the grandest cake that Sophie had ever seen. It was in the shape of a beautiful doll, with pink and purple frosting all over it, just right for a five-year-old birthday party.
Sophie was sure that she heard the sound of fireworks starting just beyond the orchard.