On the morning of her sixth birthday party, a little girl named Autumn arrived at her father’s apartment, delighted to find his girlfriend Chloe present.
“Surprise!” Chloe said. “Happy birthday!”
Autumn sprang for the bright, colorful gift bag. She pulled out a dress.
“I love it!” she said.
Autumn whirled around the living room with the dress pressed against her, just like the birthday princess she imagined herself to be.
The dress was pink with golden flowers, stars and a smiling half-moon centered on the chest. It was something Autumn asked Chloe to make for her long ago, and Chloe did, by hand, a labor of love sewed together over the course of many moon-filled nights.
“Try it on,” said Autumn’s father, Marshall.
This was the tricky part. Autumn, like some boys and girls, often was sensitive to the clothes she wore.
Too snug or loose, and Autumn might complain the dress didn’t fit. If it had too many inseams and rubbed against her the wrong way, Autumn might complain it was itchy.
In such cases, the dress would never be worn again, and because this dress was a surprise gift, Chloe wouldn’t know how Autumn felt wearing it until she tried it on.
“Beautiful!” Marshall said.
They stepped outside onto the walkway outside the apartment to take pictures of the birthday girl in her dress.
Autumn played along, but her smile began to fade as she continued to flounder around the walkway and gaze down at herself. She didn’t like what she saw.
“It’s too big!” she said.
“I made the dress a little big on purpose, so you could wear it for years to come,” Chloe said.
Autumn flopped around the walkway, unhappy, tugging at the straps.
“I don’t want to wear the dress,” she said. “It’s too itchy!”
“Autumn, that dress looks wonderful on you, and Chloe spent a lot of time working on it,” Marshall said. “Most of the gifts children get for their birthdays nowadays are made in factories and bought in stores. There is nothing special about them. You may never get such a unique gift like this from anyone ever again.”
But it wasn’t Marshall’s words that bothered Autumn. It was the look on Chloe’s face.
“Don’t be sad,” Autumn said, hugging Chloe. “I just want to wear a different dress to my birthday party, that’s all.”
“Of course,” Chloe said. “Thank you for trying it on.”
“And what do you say to Chloe?” Autumn’s father said.
“Thank you for making me the dress,” Autumn said.
Autumn changed into her Rapunzel dress. It was a Disney staple that was neither too big nor too itchy, and to Autumn it felt just right.
Chloe grabbed a troll doll lying on the couch. It had a big smile sewed to its face, and Chloe put the dress on the troll that she made for Autumn.
“There, it looks good on him,” Chloe said. “He’s looks happy wearing it, too.”
All three of them laughed.
“I’m sorry,” Marshall said to Chloe as he grabbed the car keys. “You know how Autumn is. She may not appreciate the dress, but I do, and I suspect it will grow on her in time.”
Chloe sighed, and she glanced at Marshall’s watch as he hugged her.
“Speaking of time, it’s time to go to the birthday party,” she said.
As they left the apartment, something magical began to happen.