"Yay, party time!" Maddy yelled as she jumped out of the van onto the sidewalk. It was her 7th birthday and she was going to her grandma's for a family party.
"Do you know what Grandma is going to get me, Mom? Can you tell me? Please?" Maddy asked her mother.
"No, honey, Grandma wants it to be a surprise," replied her mother.
As Maddy walked into her Grandma's house she noticed a big box wrapped in red, her favorite color.
"Wow Grandma!" What is it?" Maddy asked as her eyes lit with joy.
"Why don't you open it and find out," her Grandma said. Maddy ripped off the wrapping paper and then lifted the lid. She pulled out a big brown teddy bear. It was soft, cuddly, and had a red, silky ribbon tied around its neck.
"I love it Grandma! Maddy said as she took the bear in her arms and hugged it.
"Thank you." Maddy then ran over to her Grandma and kissed her on the cheek.
"You're welcome, sweetie. I know how much you like bears," her Grandma told her.
"I love bears!" Maddy corrected her smiling. Her Grandma smiled and then walked into the kitchen to check on the cake in the oven.
"This cake looks delicious!" her Grandma yelled from the kitchen.
"I bet it will look even better with seven sparkling candles on it," Maddy's mother said as she smiled at Maddy. Maddy loved placing the candles on the cake. In fact, after presents, it was her favorite part of birthday parties.
"Are the cousins coming soon?" Maddy asked her Grandma as she walked into the kitchen holding her new bear.
"Yes," her Grandma said. "They are on their way down now." "Good", Maddy said. I can't wait to show Casey my new bear." Casey was Maddy's 8 year-old cousin.
When her cousins arrived Maddy was so excited to open more presents she forgot about showing Casey her bear.
"Open mine first!" Casey shouted as she grabbed the bag out of her mom's hands.
"Wow", Maddy said. "Birthday Party Barbie!" Besides Birthday Party Barbie, Maddy received coloring books, a pair of pink sunglasses, play clothes for her bears, and bags of candy from her cousins.
"Well, that's it", her Grandma said. "Time for cake." "Yes!" Maddy shouted, throwing her presents aside as she ran to the table, jumping in the seat closest to the cake.
"Run up and wash your hands, Maddy," her mom said as she tried to gather everyone to the table. Maddy groaned. She rushed upstairs and washed her hands, but when she came back down she noticed Casey putting the candles on the cake. Maddy became angry. She ran over and pushed Casey away from the cake.
"It's my birthday! I put the candles on the cake!" Maddy shouted. Casey began to cry.
"Maddy," her mother shouted. "It may be your birthday, but that doesn't mean you can be mean to your cousins. You have to learn how to share! Now go up in Grandma's room and think about what you did," her mom added.
Maddy grabbed her bear off her baby cousin, stamped upstairs, and threw herself on the bed.
"It's my birthday, not Casey's," she thought crying. Her eyes slowly began to blink and she became tired.
All of a sudden, she heard a noise coming from the back window. Quickly, she sat up to see what was outside the window. She saw a little girl, about the same age as her, tossing rocks into a garbage can. Maddy decided to go out and play.
As she snuck past the kitchen with her bear, she stopped and saw Casey blowing out the candles as everyone sang to her. Sadly, she opened the back door and snuck out.
Sitting on the grass was the girl she saw from the window. "Hi," Maddy said softly.
"Hello," the girl said frowning. Maddy noticed the girl's clothing was torn and dirty. She wasn't wearing any shoes and she looked very lonely.
"What are you doing out here?" Maddy asked.
"I live out here" the girl answered tossing another rock. Maddy had a million questions to ask but said nothing. She had a lollipop in her pocket from the party.
"Want some candy?" Maddy asked giving her the lollipop.
"Thanks," the girl said studying it. Maddy noticed the girl smiling at her bear.
Do you have a bear?" Maddy asked her.
"No," she answered as her eyes began to water. Maddy studied this girl and wondered how she could live without her own bear to love and hold every night. She also noticed all the other things this girl was missing, like family and friends and people who loved her.
Realizing everything she had, and how much this girl needed, Maddy handed the girl her bear.
"For me?" the girl asked.
"Yes," Maddy said. "For you." Maddy realized that birthdays are not just about receiving, but could also be about giving.
"Thank you," the girl said getting up and giving Maddy a big hug.
Maddy couldn't believe how good she felt after giving the girl her bear. Seeing the smile on the girl's face, Maddy thought, was her greatest gift.
"You're welcome," Maddy smiled.
Maddy, Maddy" her mom said, shaking her. Maddy's eyes opened slowly.
"Mom?" she asked, rubbing her eyes.
"Let's go, it's time to sing. It looks like you've been punished enough," her mom said as she walked back downstairs.
Maddy got up and ran over to the window. She saw nothing but a pile of scattered leaves. Then, she noticed her bear on the bed. She smiled. "A dream," she thought. She picked up her bear and skipped downstairs.
Casey was at the bottom of the steps waiting for her.
"I'm sorry," Maddy said hugging her.
"I'm sorry too," Casey said. They smiled and went to sit down. Maddy noticed the candles were taken out of the cake and placed in a napkin on the table. She looked at Casey and smiled.
"Here, mom, let Tommy hold this," Maddy said smiling at her baby cousin, as she tossed her mom her bear.
Grandma put an extra candle on the cake for good luck.
"Happy birthday to you!" the family sang.
"Make a wish!" Maddy's mom said. Maddy closed her and eyes and blew out only half the candles.
"You forgot 4," Casey pointed.
"Those are for you to blow out," Maddy said.
"Thanks!" Casey said as she blew out the rest.
After the cake and ice cream were eaten and the presents were packed up, it was time to go.
"Thanks for everything Grandma," Maddy said, hugging her. "And sorry I was such a brat." "Oh, that's ok," her Grandma said, laughing as she kissed her on the forehead.
As Maddy skipped down the sidewalk, she noticed something and stopped. There in the grass was a lollipop wrapper. She thought for a minute and then smiled.