The Joy of Giving
by: Amanda J.

Once there was a pig named Butch. He was a mean, greedy pig. He didn’t want to share. Some of the other animals would occasionally ask if he wanted to play with them, but Butch would just turn and walk the other way. He would hear the others say, “Let’s go find Sam. He’ll play with us.” Butch didn’t like it when they would have fun without him. They would jump on the hay stacks, race through the corn field, or play hide-and-seek in the barn. As much as Butch wanted to play, he didn’t want to have to take turns or play by the rules, so he would just watch them.


Sam was a kind, gentle mouse. Everyone loved him. Once, when Sam was walking home, he found a little family of rats who had nowhere to sleep and nothing to eat. So he invited them to stay at his house, and he fed them all that he had, even though they weren’t very grateful. Sam would help anyone in need. Being the oldest of thirteen mice, he quickly learned that the best way to keep a big, happy family was to be very grateful and very giving. He was always helping his brothers and sisters and giving them all that they needed. But now that he was on his own, he spent most of his time helping other animals around him.


Christmas was almost here, and there was so much to do. The whole barnyard was busy decorating, baking, and enjoying the holiday, all except for Butch, who stayed in his pen most of the time. The chickens were doing all the baking. They made: pies, cookies, cakes, anything sweet and delicious. The horses were doing most of the decorating since they were the tallest in the yard. They found a huge Christmas tree and decorated it with anything they could find. Some years they would use corn, tomatoes, and even green beans. It was always such a colorful tree. The cows made all the hot cocoa and chocolate milk. And the pigs made all the messes. It was such a happy time of the year.


Christmas day finally arrived, and there was a big party in the barn. Everyone was there. Sam and his friends were dancing and laughing and having a wonderful time. Everyone enjoyed the cakes and pies and hot cocoa. The tree stood so high and was decorated so beautifully. Everything was perfect. But then Sam noticed that Butch was missing. He wasn’t anywhere inside the barn. Sam turned to ask where Butch was, but just at that moment, he saw Butch outside. Sam walked over to Butch and looked a little confused. “Butch, why are you out here? The party is in there.”


Butch lowered his head. “I can’t go in there. I have no one to talk to, and it would just upset everyone else. It’s better if I just stay right here.”


“That’s not true. You have to come and join everyone.”


Butch finally agreed, and they both walked back into the barn. When they got inside, it was time for the gifts to be given out. Earlier that week, everyone had picked a name out of a hat for gift-giving. When one of them picked Butch’s name, he would throw it back in saying, “I don’t want to buy for him. He’s mean!” So when they gave the gifts out, everyone got one except for Butch. Sam got presents from everyone there, even though only one person picked his name.


Butch didn’t like the fact that no one had bought him a gift. It made him sad, so he went back outside and sat in his pen. When Sam saw that Butch was gone again, he went back outside and when he found him, he came over to him and said, “Butch, what are you doing out here again?”


“No one bought me a present. Everyone was having a good time, and I had to just watch.”


Sam saw how sad Butch was, and that made him feel bad. “Well Butch, who did you buy a gift for?”


Butch didn’t understand. “What do you mean? Why would I buy a gift for animals who don’t like me?”


“It’s not that they don’t like you, Butch. They just don’t want to give a gift to someone who’s not grateful for it.”


Butch got huffy. “You don’t know what it’s like to not get anything at Christmas.”


Sam got quiet, quieter than he had ever been before. “This is the very first Christmas I’ve been given a gift.”


Butch looked confused. “But every other Christmas you looked so happy.”


“Well, I guess that’s because every other Christmas, I gave all I had to other animals.” Sam was becoming excited. “I love the feeling I get when I see someone else who’s happy. And knowing that I helped make that Christmas better for them makes my Christmas great!”


Butch smiled. “You’re right! From now on, I’m going to be more giving. Even if I don’t get anything, I’m still going to give to others. And I’m going to be nicer and more grateful.”


Sam pulled a big box from behind a tree. “I got this for you, Butch. Merry Christmas!”


Butch gave the little mouse a pat on the back. “Thanks.”


And from that day on, Butch and Sam were best friends. And now, every Christmas, everyone is a part of the party.


It is better to give than to receive.