Gracie bubbled with excitement. This would be the first year that she would be old enough to be a helper for the Church’s Social Dinner. She wiggled her feet back and forth as she waited for instructions.
Finally, Mom turned to Gracie and her best friend, Shay. “I’d like you and Shay to do something special. You can assign dishes for each family to bring. It’s an important job. You have to make sure we have a balanced dinner.”
Mom handed them some forms to fill out and give to each family. Together, they skipped off to a nearby corner to plan the menu.
At the top of the paper were suggestions for dishes in each food group. Gracie wrinkled her nose. “Yuck, peas, green beans, meatloaf. That stuff is disgusting.”
Shay pointed to the dessert suggestions. “Look here, cupcakes, cookies, pies. Too bad we can’t have a dessert only menu.”
The two girls turned their heads and started giggling. Gracie cupped her hand around her mouth and whispered into Shay’s ear. “Since we’re in charge, why can’t we have just desserts?”
Rubbing her hands together, Shay giggled. “Yum! Mrs. Chase makes the best peanut butter fudge in the world and Mrs. Nelson makes scrumptious cupcakes.”
Gracie wrote down dessert after dessert under each family’s name. “This is going to be the best Church Social ever! The kids will all think we’re heroes. I can’t wait until next Saturday.”
On the night of the social, Shay came to Gracie’s house to get ready. Shay braided her friend’s hair and they both put on purple dresses. Gracie bounced on the tip of her toes. “I’m excited and I feel so grown up.”
Shay bent over with her arm wrapped around her tummy. “Are you nervous that we might get in trouble?”
Licking her lips, Gracie shrugged her shoulders. “It’s too late to do anything about it now.”
Just then, Mom popped her head into the doorway. “Time to go, girls.”
After everyone was settled in the car, Mom turned around and looked at the girls. “Remember your manners. Don’t complain if you don’t like the food. You need to take a little bit of everything and clean your plate before you can go back and get dessert. Got it?”
Shay elbowed Gracie in the ribs. Gracie swallowed hard. “Okay, Mom, don’t worry; we’ll be polite.”
Once they entered the church, Mom and Dad busied themselves setting up tables. Soon Pastor Dave cleared his throat. “Before we start filling our stomachs, let’s bow our heads and bless the food.”
When he finished praying, Mom stood up. “I want to thank everyone for their contribution. Shay and Gracie planned the menu for tonight’s meal, so we want them to be first in line.”
Gracie could feel the blood spread out across her cheeks. Her hand shook slightly as she picked up a plate and walked to the buffet table. The food was all covered in tin foil. Shay walked around to the other side of the table. The girls each took a deep breath and uncovered the first dish.
“What?” Gracie squealed and dropped her plate. She blinked her eyes and looked down at a huge pan of meatloaf. Quickly she scooted down the table. Her mouth flopped open as she uncovered a tossed salad, a dish of peas, and next in line-- a huge pan of creamed spinach.
Shay darted to the end of the table, where normally the desserts would be. She found a dish of carrots and a bowl of mashed potatoes. The girls scanned the table but couldn’t find one single dessert.
Suddenly, the girls heard chuckling coming from behind them. Gracie spun around and looked at her mother. Mom laughed so hard that tears were welling up in her eyes. “Girls, remember that you promised you would try something from each dish.”
Gracie’s lips quivered. “But, this isn’t . . .”
Shaking her head, Mom walked over and hugged Gracie. “Don’t you know by now that parents talk to each other? We discovered your trick and decided to play a joke on you instead. You’ll be happy to know that there are some desserts hiding in the other room. But first you need to eat some meat, potatoes and vegetables.”
Shay leaned over and gently punched Gracie on the shoulder. “Parents are sneaky. When will we ever learn?”
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