"Kirstin, in two weeks, we'll be going to a very special party," Faith told her daughter.
Kirstin stopped watching cartoons and looked at her mother, "Who is the party for?"
"Your Aunt Jordan has won an important award for her work in helping people who were burned in fires. The mayor is hosting a party in her honor, and we're invited."
"That's exciting!" Kirstin replied. "Maybe I'll be a doctor, like Aunt Jordan, when I grow up. . . . Who else will be at the party?"
"Many of her friends from the hospital, TV reporters, and government officials, and probably a lot of other people that we've never met," explained Faith.
"But, Mom, what will I wear?" asked Kirstin. "My only party dress is too small for me."
"I know, Honey." Faith sighed. "We'll find you something . . ."
"Do you absolutely, positively promise, Mom?"
"Yes, I absolutely, positively promise!" Faith said as she kissed her daughter's forehead. "But, now, it's time to help me wash Mr. Digs."
Kirstin ran out the door to the backyard, yelling, "Mr. Digs, it's bath time!"
A spunky golden retriever puppy barked and raced toward her. Kirstin grabbed the garden hose and sprayed Mr. Digs, while Faith arrived with the doggy shampoo.
Twenty minutes later, the shampooed and rinsed Mr. Digs shook the water off his coat and sat down in the afternoon sunshine to dry.
"You're soaking wet," Faith remarked to her daughter. "Why don't you go take a nice hot shower."
Kirstin happily went inside and climbed the stairs to the upstairs bathroom. After a refreshing shower, she dressed and combed her pretty blond hair.
Mom promised that she'd buy me a party dress, and she always keeps her promises, Kirstin reminded herself as she stared at the few dresses hanging in her closet. I hope she finds one soon.
A week later, when Kirstin came home from playing with her next-door neighbor, she found a pretty green dress hanging on her bedroom door.
"Mom, you kept your promise!" Kirstin called as she raced down the steps and ran into the kitchen. "Thank you so much! It's gorgeous!"
"Why don't you try the dress on, so we can be sure it fits you?" suggested Faith.
Kirstin returned to her bedroom and put on the dress. Then, she ran downstairs to show her mother.
"It fits perfectly!" she exclaimed as she danced around the living room. "I love my new party dress. Thanks, Mom."
"You look like a little princess," Faith said as she gave her daughter a hug. ‘The color matches your eyes."
"I can hardly wait till the party," said Kirstin, "so I can wear my beautiful new dress."
"Your Aunt Jordan is very excited, too," added Faith. "One week from today, she'll be receiving an award from the mayor. I'll bring our camera and take plenty of pictures of you both."
Each morning when Kirstin awoke she counted down the number of days left until the party. When Saturday finally arrived, she jumped out of bed, quickly dressed, and ran downstairs.
Faith had already washed a load of dirty clothes and was scrubbing the kitchen sink and countertops.
"What would you like for breakfast this morning?" she asked her daughter.
"I'm so excited about the party," commented Kirstin, "that I'm not even hungry."
"I am, too," stated Faith, "but we both still need to eat. . . . I'll make some French toast."
After breakfast, Kirstin helped her mother fold clothes, dust, shop for groceries, and open the mail. The hours passed more quickly than either of them had expected.
"We'd better get dressed for the party, Kirstin. It's almost six o'clock."
Kirstin put on her new dress and shiny black shoes and combed her hair.
"You look beautiful," remarked Faith.
When they arrived at the party, Aunt Jordan immediately came to speak with them.
"Well, don't you both look like movie stars!" Jordan commented. "I'm so glad that you could come."
"We wouldn't have missed this party for anything," said Faith. "We're so very proud of you, Jordan."
After taking many pictures and meeting several guests, Faith whispered to Kirstin, "We'd better take our seats soon."
"Hello, it's nice to see you again," a young woman greeted Faith.
While Faith and the woman talked, Kirstin waited quietly.
Zoe, a girl in Kirstin's fifth-grade class at school, saw Kirstin and came to talk to her. "I didn't know you were invited to the party!" she commented.
"My Aunt Jordan is receiving a special award from the mayor."
"I haven't seen you wear that dress before," remarked Zoe. "Where did you get it?"
Surprised at Zoe's bluntness, Kirstin responded, "My mother bought it for me."
"It looks just like a dress I used to have," Zoe said. "I got tired of it, so my mother gave it to the Salvation Army. My dress had a little tiny ink stain in the back, near the neck."
Zoe roughly pushed aside Kirstin's hair and checked the back of the dress.
"You're wearing my old dress!" Zoe exclaimed loudly.
Several people stopped conversing and looked at Kirstin.
Zoe loudly announced, "So, your mother bought my old dress at the Salvation Army. That's so funny!" Zoe laughed and walked away.
It seemed as if everyone in the large banquet room had stopped talking and was staring at Kirstin and her hand-me-down dress. Kirstin didn't know what to say, so she just looked down at her shoes and wished she could disappear.
An older lady approached Kirstin. "You're a pretty girl, and that dress looks very nice on you. If someone says unkind things, just ignore the person."
Kirstin smiled. "Thank you," she said shyly.
"I knew a person who threw a beautiful painting in the trash because he got tired of it. He didn't appreciate its value," the woman explained. "However, a janitor happened to walk by and pulled it out of the trash. He decided to bring it to a museum, where he was told that a famous artist had created the painting. Thousands of people visit the museum every month to see that painting." The woman paused for a moment. "Always remember, you're one of God's beautiful paintings."
A reporter interrupted. "Mayor Jackson, we'd like to get a picture of you and Dr. Michaels."
"You're the mayor?" asked Kirstin.
"Yes, I am," said the mayor. "Remember what I told you about the famous painting."
As Kirstin sat down next to her mother, she whispered, "The mayor told me that I'm one of God's beautiful paintings."
"I would definitely have to agree with her," Faith said softly as she squeezed her daughter's hand. "And God takes good care of His masterpieces."
By Nancy A. Stevens