A Story on Gratitude and Jealousy

The Circus Comes to Town

I was sitting on my front door step feeling very sorry for myself.  My mother said I should stop sulking.  My father just gave me a dirty look and went on with his work.

My brother Peter has a friend who lives down the road and he had invited Peter to go to the circus because it was his birthday.  I was not invited.

The circus!  I would love to see the circus.  How exciting.  I’ve seen pictures of people on high wires and trapezes.  I’ve seen photos of clowns and seen them on TV, but I was not invited to go.  Sometimes life just doesn’t seem fair.  I felt two big fat tears running down my cheeks.

My grandma appeared at the front door.  Grandma usually had a bit of time to spend with me.  I stood up and gave her a tearful hug.

‘What’s the matter my Chickadee?’  she asked.  ‘ Has the dog died?’

We didn’t have a dog.  We had no dog to die and she knew we didn’t like dogs anyway.  She made me smile.

‘I’m not invited to the circus with Peter and Rubin and I really, really want to go.’

‘Oh dear, that’s a pity.  It’s Rubin’s birthday isn’t it?  Well I expect boys of ten don’t want girls of seven at their birthday party trip.  Did you invite Rubin to your birthday treat when you went to the cinema?  Did you invite Peter?  No, I don’t think you did.  I remember you saying it was girls only.’

‘ Yes, but that was only to the cinema.  We could go to the cinema any time, but the circus, it doesn’t come very often does it?’

‘It will come again next year  Chickadee, and you will enjoy it all the more, because at your age now you may be frightened by what you seem to see.  When I was your age I went to the circus and I saw a clown lose his head in the piano.  He popped his head into the top of the piano to look  inside it and another clown slammed the lid down on him.  He came up with no head at all!

The clown's head seemed to have been chopped off.
The clown’s head seemed to have been chopped off.


I was very upset, but the audience thought it was a great joke.    I just hid my face and didn’t watch any more clowning.  I didn’t know it was just a trick; the clown  seemed to be running around headless!  It wasn’t until several long dragon puppets appeared with two people inside each one, tossing and twirling the dragons, that I came out of hiding.’

‘Now let’s think about the circus trip that you are not going on,’  Grandma continued, ‘Be grateful for  what you have in your life.   There will always be someone who does more or has more than you.  So what?  That is not a problem.  Would you want another little girl to be complaining to her mother that she doesn’t have exactly the same as you?  No, of course not!  Let us all enjoy what we do have and let others do the same without us feeling upset about it.  It’s called envy, or jealousy, when we feel bad like that.  It is a bit like a sickness – they say people go green with envy.  They don’t of course, but it can make you feel horrible and it is not healthy for your mind to be filled with envy.  Now go and wash your face and wash all that greenness away, it’s not doing you any good at all!’

Grandma was right of course.  I always noticed when I was beginning to feel jealous about something. I remembered Grandma’s words and stopped those thoughts before they made me feel bad.


Did the story remind you of anything in your life?

Why was the girl upset at the beginning of the story?

Have you ever felt envious of someone?  What was the reason?  What do you think about it now that you have heard this story?

Has anyone been jealous of you? How do you know?

What do people who are jealous sometimes do?

What does it mean to be ‘grateful’ for something?