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Children's Story Garden  >  Tommy's Birthday

Girl standing in wild undergrowth, casting milkwood seeds to the breeze.

The Children's Story Garden

Tommy's Birthday


ONE happy day in November, Tommy had a birthday. Birthdays are always beautiful days, but this one seemed even more beautiful than usual because everyone in the family was happy. Big Brother was home again and Aunt Laura had come for a visit, so that even the cake had to be extra large.

When the romp was over and the candles all blown out, everyone sat together around the big open fire for a quiet little visit before bedtime, and Tommy, with all his precious new gifts, sat right in the middle. Suddenly, after a moment of silence, when everyone was watching the funny little sparks chasing each other up the dark chimney, Tommy exclaimed:

"Oh, I love everyone in all the United States!"

"Why only the United States, little son?" asked his father. "The whole world needs love."

"I don't believe it needs my love," said Tommy, "It is far away and I don't need it, and it doesn't need me."

"Oh," Big Brother said, "there is no such thing as 'far away' today. The people of the world are as close together as brothers."

"I wonder," asked Aunt Laura quietly, "how many of Tommy's birthday presents, here, came from other peoples in the world, and how many people of other lands had to help before he could have them."

Tommy sat up very straight with bright eyes and looked at the table beside him, laden with his beloved gifts.

"I see a basket of delicious dates," said Mother. "They were picked in a far-off land and travelled on the back of a camel long miles over the dessert to the ship that brought them to us."

"I see handkerchiefs. The flax, from which the beautiful linen was woven, is grown in the fields of Belgium," said Grandfather.

"And that funny puzzle came from Japan, I am sure," added Big Brother. "The Japanese are very clever toy makers."

"Your gay new neckties, Tommy, were made from silk spun by little silkworms in the south of France," said Auntie.

"A Mexican Indian carved that leather belt, a funny Chinaman, with slanting eyes, embroidered those slippers, and no doubt a trapper in the northern Canada woods killed the little animal from whose fur your warm gloves are made," added Father.

"The coffee we had for supper came from Brazil, the sugar from Cuba, the rice from China or the Philippine Islands," finished Aunt Laura, almost breathless, and everyone laughed.

"Why, we have only begun!" cried Big Brother. "The rug you are sitting on, Tommy, came from Persia, the brass bowl beside you from Russia, the wool of your warm flannels from sheep that once grazed on a Spanish mountain-side, this book was published in London and this one in Edinburgh, and Mother's pot of bulbs there, came from Holland."

Tommy stood up suddenly, with glowing cheeks and shining eyes. "How wonderful it is," he cried. " All the world helped to make my birthday. All the world helps us to live! I love all the world Father, and I want to help, too!"

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In The Children's Story Garden. Stories collected by a committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting — Anna Pettit Broomell, Emily Cooper Johnson, Elizabeth W. Collins, Alice Hall Paxson, Annie Hillborn, and Anna D. White. Illustrated by Katharine Richardson Wireman and Eugénie M. Wireman. Published in 1920 by J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.