Something To Be Thankful For

by Stephanie V. Moody

Every Thanksgiving I always have to think really hard about something to be thankful for. I mean, I can hardly be thankful for sitting next to Harry Crookshank in school.  Who could be thankful for that?  Especially, when he picks his nose.

And I’ve already been thankful for my parents and my family, and for being healthy, so thinking up something new to give thanks for each year can sometime be a real pain.  But not this year!  This year I know exactly what to be thankful for – my little sister.

Now if you’ve got a little sister, you know just how much trouble they are – messing with your stuff, bothering you, and getting you into all kinds of trouble.  Well, my sister is exactly like that, only worse.  But this year, I don’t care.

This year she saved my life.  Really!  If it weren’t for her, I would have died in front of my whole school.

It all started when my fourth-grade music class had to put on an assembly.  I’m pretty smart, so my teacher picked me, Elizabeth Jane Jackson, to memorize a poem to recite during the assembly.  Boy, was I proud!  Everybody else had to do really silly stuff, like dress up as an animal and sing songs.  But my part was special.  I knew I’d be great.  I might even be the star of the show!

We had only one week until the assembly, so I started practicing right away.  My poem was about this little elephant who wants to be big, only she doesn’t know how to get that way.  She talks to all the other zoo animals, and of course, she finally figures out about growing up and all that.

Her favorite toy is a broken jack-in-the-box that plays “All Around the Mulberry Bush.” Alice loves to

turn the crank and play the song over and over, although the clown inside the box pops out only when he feels like it.  Usually the box just makes this little clicking sound instead.  Alice doesn’t care, though. She just keeps cranking that handle until the clown inside decides to come out. It’s enough to drive me crazy.

Since I wanted everyone in the auditorium to hear me real well on the big day, I decided to practice my poem out loud at home. But every time I practiced, you-know-who would bother me. It went something like this:

Me: (practicing out loud): Alice B. Elephant wanted to know -- when a small elephant started to grow. Alice was small…

    Alice: (She doesn’t talk so good): Ah-wice no small. Ah-wice big.

Me: Yeah, like an elephant.

Alice: El-fant? What el-fant?

Me: a big, fat animal

Alice: Mommy. Mommy! ‘Lispeth call me name.

Me: Did not!

Alice: Did too. Call me fat.

Me: No stupid.  That’s an elephant.

Alice: Mommy. Mommy! ‘Lispeth call me stupid.

Mom: Girls! GIRLS! Quit arguing

Alice cranks her jack-in-the-box.

Me: Alice was small, with a tail like a twig, and Alice B. Elephant longed to be big.

Alice:  Ah-wice no be el-fant. Ah-wice no fat.

Me: Not be an elephant. B. B!  The letter B.

Alice (holding arms out like wings): Bzzzzz. Ah-wice big bumblebee. Ah-wice sting you. Bzzzz.

Me: Moooooooother

Mom: Elizabeth. Don’t yell in the house.

I stomped downstairs and begged Mom to make Alice stop. Mom said that the jack-in-the-box was Alice’s favorite toy and that “we couldn’t take away her favorite toy, now could we?”    “I don’t know about you,” I said, “but I sure could.”

Mom didn’t seem to hear me, though, because she started humming the dumb tune, too.

For the rest of the week, every time I practiced, Alice was there with her box. I tried everything to avoid her, from stuffing cotton in my ears to hiding under my bed. But no luck. Pretty soon I started to feel like that weasel the monkey is always chasing around the mulberry bush—and I was ready to pop, too.

Since I’m pretty smart – as I said – I memorized my poem by Friday anyway. Just to make sure that I knew it, I recited it as breakfast. As usual, my parents said that I was great. They both promised to come to the assembly. I tried to talk them out of taking Alice, but Mom said that Alice would enjoy the show more than anybody. I doubted it. Alice only enjoys two things – playing that jack-in-the-box and pestering me.

By eleven o’clock, the auditorium was full, and my class was ready. Mr. Perkins, the principal, welcomed the parents, and we all sang the national anthem. Then it was my turn.

I walked out on the stage, smiled and opened my mouth to begin. But all of a sudden, I didn’t’ know what to say. The words to my poem had disappeared. I closed my mouth, cleared my throat, and stared at the audience. They stared back. I felt my face turn red. Some of the kid giggled. I didn’t know what to do. There I was – up there in front of all those people – and I couldn’t remember even one word of my poem. I almost died right there, except for one thing: Alice started playing her jack-in-the-box. She takes it with her wherever she goes.

I couldn’t hear it very well at first because of all of the kids snickering and moving around in their seats. Then, as everybody quieted down, the tune got clearer. When Alice got to the part where the clown is supposed to pop out, all the words to my poem popped back into my head . . . just like that. I started saying them right away. Alice kept playing her tune.

I was never so glad to hear it in my whole life. For all I care, Alice can play it any time she wants to now. I might even buy her a new one that really works, because without my little sister I would have died of embarrassment in front of the whole school. And now everybody – even the principal – says that I was the star of the show, just like I knew I’d be. So, that’s why I’m thankful for my little sister.

Anyway, I figured that memorizing my poem would be a snap because the last words rhymed.  No such luck. Especially with my sister around. Her name is Alice (which is also the name of the elephant in my poem), and she is almost three years old – my little sister, not the elephant.