The Goodwill Gift
(By Lindsey Shapiro)
I scanned the shelf of games at Goodwill, trying to make up my mind. Monopoly? No. Scrabble? There's bound to be a piece or two missing . Maybe games are a bad idea....
That Christmas I was tight on cash, so I decided to make a trip to Goodwill to look for gifts for some of my not-so-close friends. I'd already gotten gifts for my best friends, and I figured with what little money I had left, I could buy a few nice things at a secondhand store.
I flipped through the racks of T-shirts and belts. Nothing. Maybe I could have Mom pick up some Gap or American Eagle gift cards and I could pay her back.... Finally, I glanced over at the jewelry rack, and saw it out of the corner of my eye: a bracelet. The perfect bracelet for Rachel!
Rachel was my "study buddy ". We were always doing social studies projects together, such as PowerPoints. She and I used to be the best friends, but then she started drifting toward the popular crowd, and she ended up staying there. I figured if I bought her a cool gift for Christmas, she could be my ticket to popularity. Let's just say I really wanted to impress her.
When I saw the bracelet, I knew right away that Rachel would love it. None of her so-called friends would be getting her anything this nice. It looked really expensive. And it was only five dollars! I bought it right away.
The day before Winter Break, everyone passed out holiday gifts. My two closest friends loved what I'd given them. On our way to lunch, they were still thanking me. "Lindsey, thank you so much for the makeup bag! You always give the best presents!" Emma said.
Lindsey, you really do have good taste. The earrings you gave me are so nice! said Amber.
I so hope they're right, I thought, as we walked outside to our usual lunch spot by a big rock. When we got there, I told Emma and Amber to save me a seat. "I'll be right back! I have one more gift to give out."
As I crossed the courtyard toward Rachel, I was so nervous. I didn't want her to like her bracelet. I wanted her to love it.
Hey Rachel, Happy Holidays! I hope you like this.
Thanks, Lindsey. She smiled, and then headed toward her friends as she opened the box. I started walking back to the rock, and then ever-so- casually turned around to see Rachel's reaction. She stopped mid-step and stared at the bracelet, looking shocked. Then she hurried over to her friends.
I decided to see what was up, so I hid behind some of the teachers' cars. From there, I could hear what she was saying.
Michelle! Oh my god! Ha ha! Remember this bracelet? Rachel was laughing so hard she could hardly contain herself.
I thought you donated that old thing to Goodwill!
I did! But Lindsey just gave it to me again.
What a loser. Didn't she see you wearing it last year? Michelle said.
The group's giggles echoed in my ears as I ran from behind the cars, back to Emma and Amber. I was beyond shamed. I could have cried on the spot, but I held it in, trying not to let anyone know how awkward I was. What was I thinking? Why didn't I notice her wearing it last year? So much for a great gift ... and so much for being popular.
Lindsey, what's wrong? You look like someone just died! Christmas is right around the corner! Cheer up, girl! Amber said.
Yeah, Lindsey, are you all right? Emma asked.
I looked at their faces and I knew I couldn't keep it from them. So I told them the whole story. "Guys, I'm so embarrassed! Could I be any more of a complete loser?"
Emma sat there for a minute, thinking. "You know what, Lindsey? You are so much better than her! Only a loser would discuss you and your gift like that."
Amber sat down next to me and gave me a hug. "Lindsey, forget Rachel and her friends. We love you!"
I hugged Amber back - and Emma, too. By the end of lunch I felt a lot better.
I went on to have a great Christmas in spite of the bracelet incident. Amber, Emma, and I had a great time window-shopping at the mall and just hanging out. In fact, I think my shame over Rachel's gift somehow brought us closer together than ever.
As for Rachel, I think she thought I was a loser for a while. But near the end of the year I started to be her friend once more. We're still study buddies, but I don't think we'll ever be best friends again. I laugh about the whole bracelet incident now, because it was such a great learning experience. It taught me that real friends are the ones you don't have to impress.