One early morning, Elizabeth and Grace were just finishing up their early morning walk along the paths in the nearby woods.
"The new spring flowers are so pretty!" Grace smiled, "Springtime is unlike anything in Paris. Isn't it so beautiful? I've never seen anything like it!"
"Well you were here last spring!" Elizabeth laughed, "But I do declare that I have never met someone with such a passion for flowers as you! Maybe not even Lanie."
"I know I was here last spring, but it still amazes me. Besides, last spring I was too shy, scared, and alone to truly notice all of spring's beauty."
"I enjoy spring too, mostly because it is my birthday season! When is your birthday, Grace?"
"Oh, it was in November," Grace replied casually.
Elizabeth stopped and turned to face Grace. "You mean to say that we missed celebrating your birthday? I'm so sorry, Grace!"
"That is okay. I didn't really feel up to a celebration with my first year in America and all."
"Why didn't you say something? My mom makes pretty tasty cake, you know!"
Grace shrugged and looked at the ground seriously. "I didn't want to just announce it was my birthday. I would've felt like a bother. Besides, birthdays don't matter so very much. I didn't want to have a big celebration with all of the attention on me. I do just fine when I go unnoticed."
"You still could've told us! At least we could've had a special dinner or given you a gift!" Elizabeth insisted.
"Lizzie, can we please stop talking about this? It's making me rather uncomfortable. Now, I think it is time that we got inside to start the day's activities."
Elizabeth shrugged and the let the subject drop on the outside, but inside, she was scheming up a surprise.
Later that day, Elizabeth called a meeting while Grace was away in town getting new ballet shoes. Only a few of the girls attended the meeting, because Saturdays tended to be extremely busy on the farm.
"Why are we here?" Payton asked as soon as she and the other girls in attendance gathered around the table.
"We are here for a very important announcement," Elizabeth told them seriously.
"Well get on with it - I have to practice for my ballet class! I was just warming up when I was called away to this meeting," Payton huffed.
Elizabeth ignored Payton's behavior and continued, "We missed Grace's birthday. It was in November and today it was brought to my attention that we never had a celebration, a cake, a special dinner or anything at all."
"Did we really?" Samantha sighed softly. "Oh my."
"Why didn't she tell us that it was her birthday?" Molly asked.
"She figured we already knew and that we were just too busy."
"Well it is her fault for not telling us," Payton accused Grace.
"Actually, Payton, we were supposed to know. Her birth date was in her record when she moved to the farm. It was our fault for not checking. All of us are to blame because we all could've checked the date. So to make up for missing the event, I propose that we host a surprise party for her tomorrow afternoon."
"What?" Payton, the drama queen, shrieked.
"What a positively splendid idea, Lizzie," Samantha smiled, "I have a lot of ideas for the party."
"That sounds good to me," Molly nodded, "Parties are always exciting and surprise parties are even better. I have a lot of ideas too."
"I don't know," Payton shrugged and looked down.
"Well I know!" Samantha replied. "Payton, I don't mean to accuse you, but ever since Grace got here, I believe that you two have had the hardest time seeing eye to eye over a lot of things. Yet, I can tell that Grace really thinks highly of you and is just too shy to reach out and really get to know you. You can be a lot of fun Payton, when you aren't being stubborn. It seems to me that it would mean the world to Grace if you showed up at the party and helped plan it. Grace has had such hardship and I think that she really deserves a party. A party that includes everyone."
"She hasn't been so nice to me," Payton began, "But I do feel bad about the dog she lost in Paris, so I might help with the party."
"Honestly Payton, would you want to be very close to a group that was supposed to be there for you and help you, yet the group can't even remember something as important as a birth date? I think that would feel like a pretty big let down," Elizabeth added to the conversation.
"Alright, I guess I'll participate," Payton shrugged indecisively.
"You better," Elizabeth ordered Payton, which was quite unlike her. "We've been awful friends to Grace and we are going to make up for it."
"I agree with your idea and all, Lizzie," Molly assured her, "But isn't it a little late to have a birthday party when she is nearly 12 1/2 already?"
"It's never too late to show a friend that you care," Elizabeth replied firmly, "And showing Grace that we care is exactly what I intend to do. Now everyone who can should meet me here tomorrow morning before church to help get everything ready for the party. The party will be tomorrow afternoon and we should all wear spring dresses to be festive. I expect all of you to show up." Elizabeth looked at Payton while saying the last sentence.
Payton just nodded.
The next morning at a rather early time, Jasmine and Payton joined Elizabeth in creating some decorations for the surprise party. The other girls were getting ready for church, finding dresses for the party, getting gifts ready for Grace, or helping make the surprise work.
"Since it is spring, I chose a pretty white and a light pastel yellow for the party colors. I also thought we could work a light green into the color scheme as well."
"This is beautiful," Jasmine breathed, looking at the pretty colors chosen for the banner that would hang above the table.
"Maybe I could even go find some spring flowers to put on the table as a centerpiece, or maybe I could weave the flowers through the chairs," Payton suggested, getting creative.
"Oh Payton," Elizabeth exclaimed, "What a great idea! Grace loves the spring flowers."
"You certainly got helpful for this party all of a sudden," Jasmine commented.
"I know," Payton looked down, a little embarrassed, "I guess I kind of took in all that Lizzie said and then I came to realize that she was right. I haven't been so nice to her in the past, but I'm going to change that and be friendlier in the future."
After hearing Payton's news, Jasmine and Elizabeth shared a surprised but excited glance.
Soon the girls had cut and snipped and cut and snipped some more. The banner was all cut out and ready to be glued down and strung up.
"This is the most beautiful banner ever!" Jasmine cried excitedly.
"If a banner is any sign of how a party will turn out, I think this party will be splendid!" Elizabeth agreed.
The three tediously began to hang the banner, making sure that it was just the right height above the table.
"Move it up a little more," Elizabeth instructed from her perch upon one of the chairs.
"That is as high as it will go in this position," Payton replied.
The girls continued to order each other around about the positions of the banner.
But eventually it had been placed in the perfect position. All three girls admired their work.
But they couldn't admire it for too long, because there was still much to do for the party's success.
Part #2 is coming!
I hope you enjoyed this!