From Chicken Soup for the Child's Soul

The Right Thing to Do

Although I was trying to concentrate on cursive writing and the fours times tables at school, I couldn’t stop thinking about my beautiful Halloween costume waiting for me at home. I was going to be an angel with wings! My mother had made the wings out of cardboard and leftover Christmas tinsel, and I thought she had made magic.

It was certainly better than last year’s costume when I had been a female Frankenstein. That costume was a hand-me-down from my brother Kevin. We were only about a year apart in age, and we had to share everything—including germs.

The morning of Halloween, I was surprised to find that I could hardly swallow. As my brother hung his head down from the top bunk, he did not have to say a word. I knew that he was sick, too. I couldn’t think of anything more terrible, especially on Halloween.

It turned out to be a rainy Halloween night. As the rain fell, so did my tears whenever I looked at my beautiful costume. My mother tried to make the best of it by telling us how much fun it would be to stay home and give out candy. I admit it was exciting to see what television character or creature our neighborhood friends would be, but it still was not quite as thrilling as going trick-or-treating.

When it was time for bed, just as Kevin and I were climbing into our bunkbeds, we heard a knock on the front door. Before long, our mother came to our bedroom and told us we needed to come out.

On the front porch stood the four Montgomery children. Before we could say a word, they handed my brother and me each a pillowcase full of candy! My mother told them to thank their mom for her thoughtful idea, but Bonnie, one of the older kids, replied, “Mom didn’t tell us to do this—we just wanted to.”

Still surprised, we thanked the Montgomery children and watched them walk away. That’s when we noticed that they only had two pillowcases, even though there were four of them. They had actually given away their own pillowcases full of candy. I couldn’t believe that anybody would do that, especially when their mother hadn’t even made them!

As we poured the bags of candy out on the bedroom floor, we were in for another surprise. Mom told us that we did not have to go back to bed and that we could actually stay up and sort our candy. I think my mother had also missed going trick-or-treating as much we had, and so we offered some of the candy to her. After a few trades with my brother, my mother said firmly that it was time for lights out.

Saying my good-night prayers, I remembered a special word of thanks for the Montgomery children and their gifts of the pillowcases full of candy. I even finally forgave Jimmy Montgomery for destroying my cardboard doll bed the time he had tried to crawl into it.

That seemed like the right thing to do to trade for the pillowcases full of candy generously given to a couple of sick neighborhood friends.

Stephanie Ray Brown

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