They had been
friends forever. Or at least it seemed that way.
Jenny and Cathy had attended school together
since first grade. Now in 8th grade, they tried
desperately to spend as much time together as
they could. Next year they would begin a
transition into the upper grades, where classes
were larger, schools consolidated, and when they
would begin to make educational plans that would
set the pace for college and
"Let's make 8th grade fun!" said
Jenny at the beginning of school.
have a blast," Cathy joined in.
few months of this school year were just that,
everything two girlfriends would want, including
Then suddenly things changed.
Christmas was approaching and Cathy seemed to
withdraw from the scene.
"Mom, I don't
know what's going on, but Cathy doesn't hang out
any more," said Jenny.
"Is she having
trouble with her grades?" asked Mom.
it's not that. I've been trying to get her to go
shopping with me, like we always do at
Christmas. She keeps saying "I can't." The
Holiday dance is coming and I was hoping she'd
be there, but she said she can't go this year.
She didn't participate in the school play, and
she dropped off the committee for the annual
food drive. "I can't", "I can't" she keeps
saying but won't say why. I'm tired of hearing
"I can't," Jenny said in
"Then she hasn't told you?"
"Told me what?" asked
"Cathy's mom is a single parent
with four kids to raise. I don't know how she
does it. Two months ago she lost her job. The
whole economy thing has hurt many families.
Cathy is probably just too embarrassed to tell
you. I'm sure her mom just didn't have the money
this year to let her do all those things," Mom
"Oh, Cathy. Mom I really didn't
know," said Jenny.
"That's why her
Christmas has been filled with "can'ts"" Mom
Jenny walked away without
saying a word.
Early next morning, before
Jenny's family was awake, she headed down to the
kitchen. Her mom was awakened by the sound of
someone rummaging through the
Finding Jenny there mom asked,
"What are you doing?"
"I just needed
something for...my science project today," said
"From the garbage?" replied
"Trust me," she said and headed off
to shower for school.
A few days passed.
Mom was concerned about how Jenny was handling
all of this. But every time she tried to speak
with her, Jenny would tell her, "I don't have
time right now. I'm working on a project." Then
out the door she flew.
Over the next few
days they saw little of each other. In the
hustle of a typical modern day family everyone
seemed to pass each other like speeding race
That is until Mom got a call one
"Mrs. Jeffries, this is Mrs.
Cabrini. I'm just calling to tell you how
wonderful your Jenny is. All of us here at the
senior high rise have enjoyed her help so much.
I don't know how we ever got by without
"Well, ... Thank you, ... Mrs.
Cabrini," Jenny's Mom said with some
After a few questions Mom
found out what was going on, but couldn't
understand why. Jenny had been working at the
senior center, running chores, cleaning and
decorating for many of the residents. Each of
them gladly offered her money for all the great
work she did. Mom just didn't know what she
planned on doing with that money she
Then yesterday Jenny finally
"Mom, I know I should have
told you about it. But I really needed to do
this on my own," Jenny
"Please, Mom let me
explain," Jenny nervously interrupted
"I was so angry with Cathy for not
telling me about her Mom. I was angry because
she wouldn't do all the things we always did at
Christmas. She kept saying "I can't" and I
couldn't believe that Christmas ever meant "I
can't" so I decided to help."
reached under her bed and pulled out a huge
coffee can wrapped in red foil. Appearing to be
very heavy, she carefully placed it on the table
nearby, she slowly turned it around until Mom
could read the note on the front. It
handed her a flyer that read:
"I have a
best friend who can't find Christmas this year.
She "can't" celebrate, she "can't" buy her mom a
present, she "can't" even help
You see, her mom lost her job and
it seems they "can't" do the things they always
did at Christmas.
So I will do chores,
run errands, help you decorate if you will help
me fill this with "Christmas "cans," that is any
amount you can afford to pay me. It will help me
to help them.
There's a lot of things
kids "can't" do, but I "can" do anything for my
I'm doing this so she "Can" have
a great Christmas.
hugged her and as they sat there she thought
about all the others in the community and
throughout the world who "can't" seem to find
their Christmas this year.
What "can" you do to help