There once was a garden tended by a kind young lady who caringly watered, weeded, and watched each plant from the time it was just a seed until it grew into a lush beautiful plant. Just as the young woman had planned, each plant began to grow fruit and vegetables of all kinds. There were peas and carrots, spinach and broccoli, tomatoes and peppers, potatoes, and one pumpkin.
Each plant wanted to please the beautiful girl that nurtured them, but instead of just growing and ripening to the best of their ability, many of the vegetables began to look to the other members of the garden and compare themselves.
“At least I’m riper than the tomatoes, even if I’m not as colorful,” the peas would say.
“Well, I grow above ground and don’t get dirty like the carrots,” the tomatoes whined.
“We’re bright and orange, unlike the potatoes,” the carrots snipped.
“Hump,” the potato responded. “At least I’m not a pumpkin.”
At this all the vegetables laughed. All except the pumpkin, who was small and splotchy and green.
“Yes,” they all agreed. “What good is a pumpkin, especially a small one?”
The pumpkin covered itself with its leaves, embarrassed. True, it was small and green. But when the girl came to the garden she smiled on the pumpkin just as kindly as she smiled on the other fruits and vegetables, and this made the pumpkin want to grow bigger.
Time went on and the pumpkin grew and grew. Because its leaves were covering it, at first the other vegetables in the garden didn’t notice it. The pumpkin was left alone, cared for by the girl and forgotten by everyone else. But as it grew larger, the vegetables took notice.
“Oh, look at the pumpkin,” the carrot said. “It’s so fat!”
“Still green too! And what are those funny ridges growing on it?” the Peppers laughed.
“It’s so hard. As hard as a rock. Not plump and juicy like me,” added the tomato.
The pumpkin didn’t know how to respond. It seemed that everything they said was true. But the young woman still watered it, still smiled at it, and seemed to be happy with the pumpkin even if it wasn’t as red as a pepper or as juicy as a tomato.
More time passed and the pumpkin began to change colors. At first, it was just a light hue of yellow orange on the top. But the color spread, and deepened. Sure that the other fruits around it would finally accept it, the pumpkin allowed its leaves to curl back exposing it for everyone to see, but it made no difference.
“Oh, look at the pumpkin now,” the carrots said. “It’s trying to imitate me, and not doing a very good job at it.”
“What a funny color,” the berries giggled. “Thank goodness we’re purple and red.”
“Still fat,” added the beans. “Maybe even fatter than before.”
The pumpkin’s leaves wilted in disappointment. It seemed no matter what it did, it could not please its neighbors. They laughed at it, and it just couldn’t be as red as a tomato, as slim as a bean, or as sweet as a raspberry. “I’ve tried my hardest,” it thought. “I’m no good. I don’t know why the girl even grew me.”
Just then the girl came running into the garden, but instead of the bright smile they were used to, the girl’s eyes shined with tears, and she fell to the ground crying miserably. At the sight, all the fruits and vegetables in the garden leaned toward her, sorry to see their guardian so distraught.
Suddenly a light glowed from above them. The girl looked up and gasped in surprised. The whole garden witnessed a beautiful woman whose dress seemed to be made of the stars in the sky and whose long flowing hair glowed like the moon, float down from the sky and kneel next to the girl.
The beautiful woman stroked the girl’s hair kindly. “I am your fairy godmother,” she said. “How can I help you?”
“I wanted to go to the ball with my step-sisters,” the girl sobbed. “But they wouldn’t let me. They said I’m too ugly and dirty and useless.”
All of the vegetables shuddered in surprise. The young woman was beautiful and strong. How could she believe she was ugly? If she was dirty it was because she worked hard. And as for useless, just look at the garden, full of color and life. The girl was anything but useless.
The fairy continued to stroke the girl’s hair as she said. “You are none of those things, and because you are none of them, I will help you.” She pulled the girl to her feet and spun in a circle around her. When she finally stopped moving the whole garden sighed at the sight of the girl. She was wearing a dress the color of a clear summer sky and sparkled like the sun hitting dew in the morning. She was the most beautiful thing they had ever set eyes on. The girl’s eyes still shined but now they were full of hope and joy.
“I have dressed you to match the beauty of your heart,” the woman said to the girl. “If you had an ugly heart, you would be wearing a dirty, ragged dress.
“Thank you!” the girl cried. “Thank you.”
“Now,” said the woman. “You’ll need a carriage worthy of such a beautiful heart.” She turned to the garden and stared at all the fruits and all the vegetables carefully.
Each plant stood as tall and lush as possible sure that they would be the one the beautiful fairy found worthy of carrying the girl. The fairy godmother looked at each one, pausing and then moving on. Finally, she turned to the bright orange pumpkin. Its leaves were now wilted and brown. It sat at the edge of the garden forgotten by all the other plants.
“Ah,” said the fairy with satisfaction. “Here is a noble creation worthy of such beauty.” She walked up to the pumpkin and stood over it kindly. “Here is a plant that has tried its hardest to be the best it could. You, pumpkin, shall carry a princess tonight. This is what you have been created to do.”
The pumpkin looked up in surprise as the fairy godmother walked around it. It began to tingle and tickle and grow larger and larger. When the woman finished her circle the pumpkin was no longer just a pumpkin, but an elegant coach, the color of gold, hard, and large, and secure enough to carry the beautiful girl to the ball.
The girl smiled at the pumpkin just as she always had. “I’ve always loved my pumpkin,” she said and gathered her skirts and climbed in. And that is how a simple pumpkin came to carry a princess to her future.
So remember whether you are a beautiful tomato, a lonely girl, or a funny looking orange pumpkin, you are beautiful when your heart is kind. No matter what anyone else says about you, your creator knows and loves you. He created you for a purpose that is noble and great. Grow and develop the best you can, and in time you will fulfill that purpose.