When I was a little girl I had a very special frock. It was a flower girl frock, and I wore it to my uncle’s wedding. Once my uncle was safely married to the lady of his dreams he was very happy. But I wasn't. I wanted to continue wearing my beautiful dress.
"Your flower girl dress can be your party frock," said my mother.
A party frock? What I now needed was an invitation to a party. Would anyone send me one? I looked at my frock hanging in the wardrobe and wished. I wished hard. And then one day…
“You’ve been invited to Karen’s party,” said my mother. She had the invitation in her hand. (It had arrived in the mail.) “The party’s on Saturday.” For a moment she was quiet. I could see she was thinking. She looked at me. She looked at my younger sister. She looked at the invitation once again. Then she shrugged her shoulders, refolded the invitation and placed it back in its envelope.
“Can I wear my party frock?” I asked.
Saturday was a whole week away. How was I ever going to wait that long? All that week I made trips to my wardrobe to visit my dress. It had a navy blue velvet bodice, a lace collar and a tulle skirt that stuck out like a ballerina’s tutu. It was gorgeous. It was no ordinary dress. It was a princess dress.
Saturday finally arrived. After lunch, my mother took the party frock off its hanger and slipped it over my waiting head. When my eyes reappeared, I looked at my sister. Her eyes were big and round and full of longing. “Can I wear a party frock? Can I go to the party too?” she begged.
My mother slowly shook her head. “No. I’m sorry. You need an invitation to go to a party.”
My sister looked at my exquisite frock with its sticking out skirt and then she looked at her plain everyday dress. Her face crumpled. Why couldn’t she go to the party with me? Why had I been invited and not her? She just didn’t understand.
My mother brushed my long red hair until it shone. She then threaded it through a head band and pulled the band up into place. I slipped my white socked feet into my shoes. I was ready to go to the party. My mother was ready too. She and my sister were going to come with me as far as the party house door.
My mother grabbed my sister’s hand and led her to the car. I followed close behind. I had a birthday present in one hand and a card in the other. I had a huge smile on my face.
The journey didn’t take very long. Soon we were knocking on the birthday girl's front door. Soon we were being welcomed by her mother, a pretty lady wearing lipstick and high heeled shoes. Behind the lady I could see a crowd of noisy excited children, all dressed up in pretty party frocks or smart party trousers.
“Hello! Come on in!” the lady smiled. Then she stopped. She looked from me to my sister and back again. She looked at my party frock and my sister’s plain everyday dress. She looked at my hands holding the birthday gift and then at my sister’s empty hands.
“I’m sorry,” the lady said at last. “I think I made a mistake. “I think I got the girls’ names in a muddle. I think I invited the wrong sister to the party.”
My face crumpled. All my excitement fizzled away. I felt like a used up sparkler. No more dazzle. No more magic. It was all gone. I hadn't been invited to the party? I just didn't understand.
Then the lady said, “Why don’t both the girls stay for the party. They are both welcome.”
So two sisters went to the party. One was dressed up in an exquisite party frock. But she knew she was only there because of a muddled up invitation. The other sister was the wanted sister. But she was dressed in a plain everyday dress. She wasn’t a little princess like all the other little girls.
Which of the two sisters would you rather have been?
This story happened many years ago. I now have five daughters of my own. When they were younger, they had their own share of special party frocks. Lots of them. They had best party frocks and second best ones. And they didn't always wait for a party invitation to wear them. Oh no, they sometimes wore their party frocks as everyday dresses. I smile as I remember...
I remember little girls in gorgeous second best party dresses, playing in the garden… with gum boots on their feet. For of course, even a princess must wear sensible shoes when she goes outside.
I remember the huge pile of gum boots by our back door. The girls would select a couple of boots and thrust them onto their feet... But that is a G story, a gum boot story. That is a story for tomorrow...