The Three Gifts
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The Three Gifts

Justin, Tom, and Sam are convicted of stealing children’s Halloween candy at Halloween. Instead of jail the judge sentences them to 100 hours babysitting

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The Three Gifts

Justin, Tom, and Sam are convicted of stealing children’s Halloween candy at Halloween. Instead of sending them to jail the judge sentences them to 100 hours babysitting.

Author:    Daris Howard


       Justin, Tom, and Sam are convicted of stealing children’s Halloween candy at Halloween. Seeing they think going to jail is no big deal the judge assigns them 100 hours each babysitting at the women’s crisis center, removing their driver’s licenses until it is completed to force them to do it.
       They soon find themselves loving the children they care for. They learn how much when they each have to sacrifice what means the most to them to save their new little friend.

There is a book out about this play.   See Publishing Inspiration.

The Three Gifts

The Three Gifts


Daris Howard

 Copyright 2003 

by  Daris Howard

All Rights Reserved

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that THE THREE GIFTS is subject to a royalty.  It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, the British Commonwealth, including Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright Union.  All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, and the rights of translation into foreign language are strictly reserved. 

The amateur live stage performance rights to THE THREE GIFTS are controlled exclusively by Drama Source and royalty arrangements and licenses must be secured well in advance of presentation.  PLEASE NOTE that amateur royalty fees are set upon application in accordance with your producing circumstances.  When applying for a royalty quotation and license please give us the number of performances intended and dates of production.  Royalties are payable one week before the opening performance of the play to Drama Source Co., 1588 E. 361 N., St. Anthony, Idaho 83445, unless other arrangements are made. 

Royalty of the required amount must be paid whether the play is presented for charity or gain, and whether or not admission is charged.  For all other rights than those stipulated above, apply to Drama Source Company, 1588 E. 361 N. St. Anthony, Idaho 83445.

Copying from this book in whole or in part is strictly forbidden by law, and the right of performance is not transferable.

Whenever the play is produced, the following notice must appear on all programs, printing and advertising for the play, “Produced by special arrangement with Drama Source Co.”

Due authorship credit must be given on all programs, printing and advertising for the play.

No one shall commit or authorize any act or omission by which the copyright or the rights to copyright of this play may be impaired.

No one shall make changes in this play for the purpose of production without written permission.

Publication of this play does not imply availability for performance.    Both amateurs and professionals considering a production are strongly advised in their own interests to apply to Drama Source Company for written permission before starting rehearsals, advertising, or booking a theatre.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, now known or yet to be invented, including mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, videotaping or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Characters

(Note: This play may be performed by three girls in the teenage roles instead of the boys.  It probably would work better with boys, but if needed teenage girls can be substituted.)

Justin Jackson – Teenage boy, a bit rebellious.

Sam Johnson – Teenage boy, really into basketball.

Tom Howard – Teenage boy, 

Judge Jensen – A tough, no nonsense woman.

Attorney Mathews – Prosecution.  A woman.

Fred Jackson – Middle aged man.  A lawyer and Justin’s dad.

Mary Harris – Middle aged woman.  Emily and Timothy’s mom.

Emily Harris – A young girl that looks about six to eight. Precocious.

Timothy Harris (Or Tamara if little girl) – Emily’s little brother (or sister).  About two.  This child has no speaking parts and a doll as a baby can be substituted.

Dr. Howard – Tom’s dad.  Middle aged man.

Others – It would be good to have children to play Tom’s brothers and sisters.  It would also be good to have some more adults to play parents of Sam and maybe Tom’s mom.

If desired:


Court Clerk

This story comes from some experiences with some of my own friends and also some of my students.  I got together with some of my friends shortly after we were all married and talked of past events in life.  During the conversation it turned to one Halloween that my three friends stole some children’s Halloween candy.  I was not with them on this escapade, but listened to their telling of it and how embarrassed they were.

This event, plus some things that have happened to me and those I have known gave me the basis for this play.  For that reason I would like to dedicate this play to my friends, family, and the students I have taught over the years.

Daris Howard


There are really only three simple sets and then some done in front of the curtains or in front of the stage.  These can easily be done by building the living room set on a stage wing and after the court scene switching to the hospital scene on the main stage.  This makes it so there is really only one scene change.

1) Court room.  (This can be done with a counter for the judge and chairs with tables for the attorneys, defendants, and family.)

2) Women’s Crisis Center.  (This can use the same counter as the court scene and perhaps a couch with a rug for children to play on and maybe a playpen.)

3) A very simple, poor, bare, living room with a couch, small bed, and crib, plus a few other furnishings.

4) The hospital waiting room could be the same as number 2 with the playpen and other children’s things removed.

Act I Scene 1

{The scene is a courtroom.  Three young men, Tom, Sam, and Justin, are the defendants.  Justin’s father is their lawyer.  The judge, Mrs. Jensen, is a no nonsense kind of woman.}

Judge Jensen: The court finds the defendants guilty of assault and theft as charged.  Do the defendants have any final words with respect to this matter?

Justin: {As Justin’s father is trying to make him sit down} Go ahead and make us sit in jail a few days, who cares.

{The boys all snicker.}

Judge Jensen: You boys don’t seem to feel that this crime is a big deal.

Justin: Ok.  So we swiped a few little kids’ Halloween bags.  Big deal.  Guys do it all of the time.

Judge Jensen: Young man, just because others do something does not make it right.  You do not seem to realize that some children have very little to look forward to.  Simple things like Halloween candy can mean a lot to them.

Justin: So go ahead and give us the jail time and forget the lecture.  You’re not our mother.

{Judge Jensen leans back in her chair to think a few seconds.  Make it long enough that the boys squirm just a bit.}

Attorney Mathews: May the prosecution approach the bench?

{Attorney Mathews, also a woman, is signaled to the bench by Judge Jensen.  They whisper in hushed tones.}

Tom: You’ve gone and done it now Justin.  I think they’re really ticked.

Justin: So what’s the big deal?  What’s she going to do, add a couple of days on our sentence?  It’s just more school we’ll miss.

Sam: But what if it goes into basketball season?

Justin: It will probably only be a weekend jail sentence anyway.

Tom: And I had planned to go hunting and get some more golf in before it gets too cold.

{Finally Attorney Mathews returns to her seat and Judge Jensen leans forward as if she has made a decision.}

Judge Jensen: {Keying in on the boys conversation.} And I had considered some jail time for you, but the more I look at it the more I think that would just give you something to brag about at school. Since your crime was against children, I think the punishment should be related.  Attorney Mathews and I work as volunteers at the Women’s Crisis Center at the hospital and they are always in need of help.  Taking into consideration the counsel of the prosecuting attorney, you are hereby given a sentence of 100 hours each of service in the children’s room at the Women’s Crisis Center.

Justin: Wait a minute!  You’re saying we have to babysit?!  I would rather go to jail!  If we refuse, what will you do, just send us to jail? {Jumping up and putting his hand up as if volunteering.}  Well, then I will just refuse.

{The other two boys pull him back into his seat.}

Judge Jensen: Since you used a car to travel around town doing your misdeeds it is obvious you used a vehicle in the course of committing your crime.  Therefore, I will not put you in jail, but I will suspend your driver’s licenses until such a time as this court can verify you have completed your 100 hours of service.

Justin: Service! You call that service!  That is blackmail that’s what it is.  Why that…

Sam: Would you shut up?!  Every time you open your mouth it just gets worse.

Judge Jensen: To further insure you do not procrastinate this, it is the decision of this court that you will have time at nights after school and on weekends to complete this sentence before Christmas, since there is eight weeks left.  For each week beyond that for which it is not completed there will be six more hours added to the sentence.  And none of you better be caught driving before Christmas or before this court has revisited this case or your license will be suspended for another full year.  Further, when this sentence is completed the court holds the discretion of reviewing the attitude of the defendants pertaining to this matter to determine whether this should be cleared from your records.  Does the defense attorney have any comment?

{The boys look to Mr. Jackson hopefully as he slowly rises to his feet.}

Mr. Jackson: The defense feels that is a fair sentence.

Justin: Dad!  What kind of defense is that?

Mr. Jackson: I agree with the judge.  It’s time you learned to take responsibility for your behavior.  I don’t blame Sam or Tom near as much as you.  You were the one driving and if I know a thing or two this was your idea.

Tom: Great idea, Justin.  Let’s hire your dad.

Justin: I thought he’d be on our side.

Judge Jensen: The defendants may pick up their personal belongings.  You must turn your driver’s licenses over to the court clerk at this time.

Justin: What a mean judge?

Tom: Yeah.

{They walk over to the judge who has a box sitting there with their things.  As Justin reaches for his keys his father takes them.}

Mr. Jackson: I will take those.

Justin: But Dad, don’t you trust me?

Mr. Jackson: Trust has to be earned and right now you have some earning to do.  {Looking at the three boys.} Have all of you turned in you driver’s licenses. {They nod.} Ok.  We are going to have a meeting with all of your parents and make sure you get these hours filled.

{As they head out they each are flanked by their parents who have been in the courtroom, Mr. Jackson turns and smiles at the judge and nods and she smiles and nods back.  Lights fade.}

Act I Scene 2

{This scene can be played in front of the curtains or to the side.  Behind the curtains or on main stage will be the Women’s Crisis Center.  There is a small nursery where a boy (or a girl if needed) of about two and a girl about 6 are playing.  There is a help desk there with a woman busily doing paper work.  This could be the judge, but if not she will be there to greet them when they come in.  The young men are talking outside the Women’s Crisis Center, nervous about going in.}

Sam: {Fidgeting with his basketball.}  I suppose we might as well go in.

Justin: Do you really plan to go in there?

Sam: Yes, I do.  My parents said unless I can show I am making progress on filling my sentence there would be no more basketball.  

Justin: What’s it with you and basketball?  When basketball season comes you play the Houdini act and we never see you until it’s over.

Sam: Basketball is my ticket out of here.

Tom: What do you mean?

Sam: I mean, with your dads being a doctor and a lawyer you have parents that can afford to send you to college.  But for me, since the mill closed down and my dad hasn’t had steady work, if I don’t have a scholarship I don’t go.

Justin: Who wants to go to college anyway?  I’m going to be a race car driver.  You don’t need a diploma for that.  

Tom: No, but you do need a driver’s license.

Sam: And now thanks to you, none of us have that.

Justin: Sure, blame me.

Tom: What I blame you for is mouthing off in the courtroom.  You don’t have to put up with a zillion little brothers and sister, but I do.  Now I’ve got to work with more small children.  It makes me downright nauseous.  

Justin: Someone needed to stand up for our rights.

Sam: You two do what you want, but I’m going in.

Tom: I’m coming too.

Justin: If you two wimps are going to give in I suppose I might as well go with you.

{They enter the clinic.  Judge Jensen is there to meet them.  She is not dressed like a judge, but as a volunteer at the Women’s Crisis center.}

Judge Jensen: It’s about time.  You’re late.  I expect you to be on time.  You can sit down here and sign up for your times.

Sam: Ma’am, do you mind if I go first?  If it’s all right I would like to work late evenings and Saturdays so I can still play basketball.

Judge Jensen: I have no problem with that.  I suppose if you’re busy you can’t get into trouble. {Getting up and going to the other two.} While Mr. Johnson is signing up for some hours let me introduce you to a couple of the young people who are here. {She grabs Justin and Tom, one in each arm and leads them reluctantly over to the children.} Mr. Jackson, Mr. Howard, I would like to introduce you to Emily and her little brother Timmy.  I will leave you for a few minutes to get acquainted.

{Judge Jensen leaves and goes back over to the desk.  Justin and Tom look very uncomfortable.  They poke each other for a minute trying to get the other to talk first.  Finally Tom turns totally away leaving Justin to talk.}

Justin: Uh, so hey, kid, what are you in for.  Did you get stuck here like us because you did something wrong? {He laughs at his own joke then stops as if realizing it isn’t that funny.}

Emily: We’re in for about eight hours while my mommy finishes swinging shift over at the bakery.  I don’t know if I did anything wrong.  Maybe I did; maybe that is why daddy left.

{By now Sam has joined them.}

Tom: What do you mean that is why your daddy left?

Emily: One night he came home drunk and he started hitting mommy.  I started crying and yelled for him to stop.  He hit me really hard.  I don’t remember any more, but when I woke up I was in the hospital and Daddy never came back.

Sam: Is that where you got that gash on your face?

Emily: Oh, no.  Daddy left a long time ago.  I got this gash when three guys tried to steal Timmy’s Halloween candy.  I didn’t mind when they stole mine, but when they tried to steal Timmy’s I held on to his bag real tight and they jerked me off of my feet and I hit my face on the sidewalk.

{The three young men look at each other embarrassed.}   

Sam: I’m going to go ahead and take tonight’s shift.  You two can go sign up.  I’ve signed up my hours clear through to Christmas.

Justin and Tom Together: Christmas!

{Tom starts to head over to the desk with Justin reluctantly following.}

Justin: I can’t believe you guys are really going to go through with this.

Tom: Maybe the judge is right.  Maybe there are some things we need to learn.

Justin: Great, now you are beginning to sound like my father.

{As the other two are signing up, Sam sits down on a chair and pulls Emily on to his lap.  When the other two get done they can leave, even making some faces behind Sam’s back as if teasing him.}

Sam: So, little lady, how long have you been coming here?

Emily: Since not too long after my daddy left.  When Daddy never came back we ran out of food so Mommy brought us here.  Now we stay here each night while she works.  Maybe Daddy will come home for Christmas.  Mommy says he might.

Sam: And so this is your little brother?

Emily: Yes, his name is Timmy.  Actually his real name is Timothy, but we call him Timmy because Momma says Timothy is such a big name for such a little boy. {If it is a girl it could be Tammy and Tamara.}

Sam: I know a great basketball player whose name is Timothy.

Emily: Do you play basketball?

Sam: When I can.

Emily: Could you teach me?

Sam: {A bit hesitant} I suppose I could.

Emily: How about Timmy?

Sam: He’s a bit young.

Emily: He could be the mascot.

Sam: Yea, I suppose he could.

Emily: My daddy used to watch basketball.  Maybe if I learned to play he would like me better.

Sam: You don’t need to learn to play basketball so he will like you.  There is no reason he shouldn’t like you.  

Emily: But if I could be more like what he wanted.

Sam: You don’t try to beat someone playing their game but by emphasizing your own strengths.

Emily: What does that mean?

Sam: It means you just need to be yourself.

Emily: I like that.

{Judge Jensen comes over.}

Judge Jensen: It’s time for Emily to get some sleep now.  She and Timmy need to sleep until their mother comes and gets them later.

Emily: Can we have a story?

{Judge Jensen looks at Sam who catches the hint.}

Sam: Oh, sure.  What story would you like?

Emily: “Tommy and Tippy”

Sam: “Tommy and Tippy”?

Emily: Yes, it’s one of my favorite story because it has a puppy in it.

{She goes and gets the book.  These next couple of lines might be skipped if Timmy is small and doesn’t want to go to Sam.}

Emily: Can Timmy sit on your knee?

{She puts Timmy on Sam’s lap before he can say anything.}

Sam: Uh, sure.

{Emily then gets up close and leans against Sam and Sam puts his arm around her.   Sam opens the book and starts to read.}

Sam: “Tommy was a little boy who lived on a farm.  He had many animals that were his friends.  He had a calf named Harry and a rabbit named hopper.  He had a chicken named Squawk and turkey named Gobble.  But his very, very best friend was his puppy named Tippy.  Tommy and Tippy went everywhere together.  When you found one you always found both.  One day… 

{Sam’s voice fades off as the lights go down.}

Act I Scene 3

{As the lights come up Sam is sitting asleep with the kids on his lap or with him.  Mary comes in and smiles.  She lifts Timmy out of his arms or gently shakes him.}

Sam: {Sleepily} Alright, Mom.  I’m awake.  I’m awake. {Then coming to and looking around.}  Where am I?

Mary: You are at the women’s crisis center.

Sam: Oh yeah.  I remember.  Who are you?

Mary: I’m Mary Harris.  These are my children.

Sam: They sure are adorable little kids.

Mary: Thank you.  I kind of think so.

Sam: I suppose you’re here to take them home?

Mary: Yes.

Sam: I’ll help you carry them out to the car.

Mary: I don’t have a car.

Sam: You don’t have a car?  Where do you live?

Mary: In the apartment building on Ironwood Drive.

Sam: But that’s clear across town and in the worst part of town.  How are you going to get there?

Mary: We’ll walk.

Sam:   I’ll go with you.

Mary: Oh, no, I couldn’t ask…

Sam: I insist.  You carry Timmy and I’ll carry Emily.

Mary: Thank you.

{They pick up the children and go out the door.  The next part can be played in front of a curtain or in front of the stage as if walking.}

Sam: Ma’am, do you mind if I ask you a question?

Mary: Go ahead.  

Sam: Well, I was talking to Emily and she told me about your husband and what he did to you and to her and how you are hoping he might come home for Christmas and well…

Mary: What is it?

Sam: Well, it may not be any of my business, but it just seems to me you would be better off without him.  Why do you, or at least Emily, want him to come home?

Mary: I know maybe it sounds crazy to someone who has never been there, but I still love him and so does Emily.

Sam: How can you love someone that does that to you?

Mary: Love is deeper than just what one does or does not do?

Sam: I don’t understand.

Mary: You can love someone and not really like them very much.

Sam: That doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever.  

Mary: Well, maybe someday it will.  I suppose you’re right.  I’m probably better off without him, especially for the safety of my children, but I still love him and I have a hard time bringing myself to give up on him.  

Sam: If I were you I would divorce the… the.. {trying to find a word not to offend} guy and get a restraining order.

Mary: Thank you for your concern.  What was your name?

Sam: Sam.  Sam Johnson.

Mary: Are you Adam and Elizabeth Johnson’s son?

Sam: Yes.

Mary: They are good people.  It’s no wonder you volunteered to help at the Women’s Crisis Center.

Sam: I didn’t volunteer exactly.

Mary: Oh?

Sam: Well I was…  Oh, never mind.  I’m just glad I could help out.

Mary: I am too.

{They go onto the house scene and go through the door.  The room has a couch and/or old chair, a small bed, and a crib.}

Sam: Do you want me to take Emily in the bedroom?

Mary: Actually there is no bedroom.   

Sam: You all share this one room?

Mary: Well, this a kitchen and a bathroom.  My husband ran up so much credit card debt I am still trying to pay off that I can’t afford anything else.

{Sam starts to put Emily into her bed as she wakes just a bit and hugs him.} 

Emily:  Goodnight, Sam.

Sam: Goodnight, Emily.

Mary: {As Sam is leaving} Thanks, Sam, and goodnight.

{Sam starts to walk away, stops and looks back for a brief instant, then continues to walk slowly away.}


Act I Scene 4

{The scene is the Women’s Crisis Center.}

{Justin comes in wearing headphones and kind of dancing .  Finally the judge catches his eye and she points at her watch and at the sign in sheet.  He reluctantly checks in at the desk.  The judge points at his headphones and he rolls his eyes, but puts them down around his neck.  He then gets up and comes over to where Emily and Timothy are.}

Justin: Well, kid.  I guess you got to put up with me tonight, or vice versa.

{He drops into the chair.}

Emily: Is that your name?

Justin: What?

Emily: Vice Versa.

Justin: No.

Emily: Than why did you say it?

Justin: Because it means… Oh, never mind.  It’s a long story.

Emily: {Running over and dropping in a chair by his and scooting it over by him.}  Oh good.  I like stories.

Justin: {Scooting his chair just a bit away.}  I don’t mean story like story you’d read or anything.

Emily: {She scoots her chair closer again.}  What kind of story is it?

Justin: It’s not a story at all.

Emily: Than why did you say it was?

Justin: It’s not a story.  It’s a nightmare.

Emily: Do you have nightmares too?

Justin: I’m in the middle of one right now.

Emily: Me too.  I keep dreaming my daddy comes back and is hitting my mommy.

Justin: I bet your glad your daddy is gone?

Emily: I hope he’ll come home for Christmas.

Justin: Why would you want him to come home for Christmas if he hits you and your mom?

Emily: Because Christmas is a time for families to be together and sometimes he’s nice.

Justin: When he’s not drunk, huh?  Does he drink often?

Emily: Almost every day.

Justin: Then maybe almost everyday you’d be better without him.

Emily: But I miss him.

Justin: I still think you should forget about him and go on.

Emily: Don’t you want your mommy and daddy both home for Christmas?

Justin: It would be nice, but it ain’t going to happen.

Emily: Why not?

Justin: My mother is dead.  She died about a year ago.  

Emily: That’s sad. {There is a short pause as if they both think.  Then Emily grabs his shirt excitedly.} Hey, I know.  I have a mommy and you have a daddy.  I can share my mom with you and you can share your daddy with me and we can both have a mommy and daddy at Christmas.

Justin: {Smiling and starting to loosen up a bit} It’s not quite that easy.  What if they don’t want to be shared?

Emily: I don’t know why not.  My momma is really nice.  Is your daddy nice?

Justin: I suppose you could say so.

Emily: Does he drink?

Justin: No.

Emily: Then I’m sure he’s nice.

Justin: Who knows?  He hasn’t been around enough for anyone to find out.

Emily: Did he run away too?

Justin: No.  He just works all of the time and is never home.

Emily: {After a short pause} What’s your name?

Justin: Justin.

Emily: My name is Emily and my little brother’s name is Timothy but we call him Timmy.  Justin, if I shared my momma with you and you shared your daddy with me for Christmas would that make you my big brother?  I’ve always wanted a big brother.

Justin: {Showing a bit of emotion.}  I suppose it would.  Why do you want a big brother?

Emily: Because we could play catch together and go to the park together and go fishing together.

Justin: But big brothers could be a pain.  They might tell you what to do and leave the house messy.

Emily: I could clean the house and then we could watch some movies together.

Justin: Cool!  What kind of movies?

Emily: Bambi, The Little Mermaid, Toy Story, …

Justin: You’ve got this all figured out, huh?

Emily: Pretty much.

Justin: What about Timmy?

Emily: When he gets bigger we could take him fishing with us.  He might even catch the biggest fish.  I guess you’ll never make the basket if you  never take a shot.

Justin: You’ll never make the basket if you  never take a shot?  You’ve been around Sam too much.

Emily: He’s going to teach me how to play basketball.  Do you like to play basketball?

Justin: Sure, but I don’t let it rule my life.

Emily: What do you mean?

Justin: It’s just that when it’s basketball season Sam doesn’t know how to switch gears.

Emily: Switch gears?

Justin: You know, like on a car?

Emily: Do you have a car?

Justin: Just an old Buick.  But someday I’m going to have a real car.

Emily: We had to sell our car to pay bills when Daddy left.  I know, maybe you could give me a ride in your new car.

Justin: {Not paying attention.} Sure kid. {then realizing} Whoa.  Hold on here a minute.  We need to go back to first gear.

Emily: First gear?

The Three Gifts

Author: Daris Howard
     Daris Howard is an author and playwright who grew up on a farm in rural Idaho. He associated with many colorful characters including cowboys, farmers, lumberjacks and others.
     Daris and his wife, Donna, have ten children and were foster parents for several years. He has also worked in scouting and cub scouts, at one time having 18 boys in his scout troop.
     His plays, musicals, and books build on the characters of those he has associated with, along with his many experiences, to bring his work to life.
    He and his family have enjoyed running a summer community theatre where he gets a chance to premiere his theatrical works and rework them to make them better. His published plays and books can be seen at He has plays translated into German and French and his work has been done in many countries around the world.
     In the last few years, Daris has started writing books and short stories. He writes a popular news column called Life’s Outtakes, that consists of weekly short stories and is published in various newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and Canada and has won many awards for his writing.

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