Jeanie awoke the morning before Thanksgiving Day with a happy and thankful heart. Usually she awoke every morning feeling this way because she was a happy little girl, but today she had a special reason for being thankful.
Jeanie and her parents lived on a farm in the United States quite a distance from town or from neighbors. There was a big white house across the road, but Jeanie could not remember anyone ever having lived in it. Then last week Daddy told her and Mother that a family with a little girl Jeanie’s age was going to move into the house today.
Swiftly Jeanie jumped out of bed and ran to her window to peek at the house across the road. Sure enough, there was a moving van unloading furniture onto the front porch.
She was almost to the kitchen when she remembered something she had to do today. She had promised to gather the pine cones that Mother always used to decorate the table on Thanksgiving Day. Would she have time to search for them and visit the little girl across the road too?
Then a thought flashed into Jeanie’s mind. I’ll go see my new neighbor first and invite her to go with me to gather the cones.
By this time Jeanie was at the kitchen doorway. “Oh, Mother,” she sang out, “our new neighbors have come!”
Mother looked up from the plate of toast she was preparing and smiled. “Yes, I saw them. I am making some soup for their lunch. We will take it over as soon as it is ready.”
Jeanie nodded. She was glad Mother was making the soup, but she didn’t know whether she could wait so long to meet her new playmate.
“I’m going to invite the little girl to help me search for pine cones,” she told Mother. “Do you think she will like that?”
“Yes, I’m sure she will.” Mother looked a little thoughtful. “There is something, though, I think you should know. Daddy learned about it only yesterday and told me last night.”
Jeanie had been watching Mother and saw her strange expression. “What is it? Is it about the new neighbors?”
Mother nodded. “It is about the little girl,” she answered gently. “She can’t see as you and I see, Jeanie. She is blind.”
Jeanie put down the plates she was holding and stared at Mother. Blind! She had never known a blind person. In school there was Cindy who had to walk with crutches, but being blind was different. Not to be able to see at all.
Jeanie had read about several famous blind people, such as Hellen Keller, but she had never really thought much about them. She had never tried to feel what it would be like never to see the bright blue sky, the green grass, other people—anything at all. Why, it was night all the time in a blind person’s world.
Jeanie took a deep breath. “Then—then maybe she won’t enjoy going with me to look for pine cones,” she managed to say.
“I think she may.” Mother surprised Jeanie by her answer. “You can invite her anyway and find out what she says.”
Jeanie was glad Mother had helped her decide. At worship Jeanie prayed a special prayer for Jesus to help her be friends with her blind neighbor.
Later when the steaming kettle of soup was ready Mother and Jeanie went across the road to see the new neighbors. As they entered the front gate, Jeanie’s heart began to beat faster. A little girl just her age was standing on the porch.
The little girl spoke first. “Hello,” she called. “I’m Kathy. Do you live across the road?”
“Yes, we do,” Jeanie told her. “My mother and I have brought you and your parents some soup for lunch, and I would like you to go pine cone hunting with me.”
“Oh, I would love that!” Kathy exclaimed happily. She turned toward the doorway of the house. “May I go, Mother?”
Jeanie turned, too, in surprise. She certainly hadn’t seen Kathy’s mother come to the door.
After Kathy had gotten her mother’s permission, the girls started for the pasture where the pine trees grew.
“I’ve never seen a pine cone,” Kathy stated.
Jeanie couldn’t help staring at her. And somehow Kathy knew that she was puzzled.
“I mean I’ve never touched a pine cone,” she corrected. “I see things by feeling them. I’ve never seen many of the things that go with Thanksgiving. My parents and I have always lived in an apartment in New York City. I’ve never seen a pumpkin or an ear of corn. I surely would like to sometime.”
“Oh, you can today!” cried Jeanie. “Daddy has corn and pumpkins in the barn, and we’ll gather cones from the pine trees in the pasture.”
It wasn’t long until Jeanie spied a large cone under the pine tree by the pasture gate. “Oh, here’s one,” she told Kathy and gave her new friend the cone to hold.
Kathy ran her fingers quickly over the cone at first. Then she touched it more slowly. “It isn’t at all like I thought it would be. I thought it would be rough all over, but parts of it are smooth.”
Jeanie laughed and held out a black walnut. “If you want to feel something really different, touch this.”
Kathy was fascinated by the texture of the walnut hull. Then she felt the bark of the trees and the gritty surface of a sand rock. After the girls had gathered enough of the cones, they hurried to the barn, where Jeanie showed Kathy the big yellow pumpkins and the ears of yellow corn.
“Oh, this feels like Thanksgiving!” laughed Kathy as she patted the biggest pumpkin in the pile. “What a pie it would make!”
“One almost big enough to feed all the Pilgrims!” humored Jeanie.
Kathy smiled. Then she looked serious. “I’ve read about the Pilgrims and about the first Thanksgiving in my Braille books, but I’ve often wondered what a Pilgrim looked like.”
Jeanie smiled, too. “I wish I had a Pilgrim to show you, but I—” Then she stopped right in the middle of her sentence and caught Kathy’s hand. “Come to the house. I do have a Pilgrim to show you. Two of them, in fact!”
When they were inside the house, Jeanie took Kathy to her room. “Here, sit in my rocker, and I’ll get my Pilgrim dolls from my doll collection. Grandmother got them for me two years ago at Thanksgiving. They are a Pilgrim man and a Pilgrim woman.”
Jeanie put the dolls in Kathy’s hands and told her about each doll’s clothing, the colors, and how the man carried a Bible in his hand.
Kathy sat for a long time touching the dolls. Then she turned toward Jeanie with joy and wonder in her face. “Oh, Jeanie, this has been such a wonderful day! I’ve never really been able to know about the things that Thanksgiving means because I couldn’t touch them. But today you really have helped me to “see” Thanksgiving. I think I want to thank Jesus for you.”
Jeanie took the Pilgrim dolls from Kathy and put them back with her doll collection. Then she took Kathy by the hand. “And I want to thank Jesus for you too,” she said. “So let’s thank Him together right now.”
On the rug beside Jeanie’s bed the two little girls knelt down and gave a special prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus, even though Thanksgiving was still a day away.
Heaven, Please! Helena Welch, 122–127.