(If you missed Part 1 of my mother’s story, start here).
“At first, Mama and Papa didn’t notice her standing there, but something about the wonder on her face caught their eye as the little girl surveyed the room. She wasn’t staring at the decorations because there were none in their plain, country home. There was no wreath on the door, no brightly wrapped gifts, and no lights on a tree. In fact, this little family didn’t even have a freshly-cut pine tree. The only sign of Christmas were the bulging, woolen stockings hanging on the back of seven chairs. Not sequined stockings like we have today, but the children’s own socks, hanging by the loop Mama stitched there for the occasion.
“The little girl didn’t rush to her stocking, but lingered by the fire until the rest of the children tumbled excitedly into the room. She knew, as they all did, that the contents of that humble stocking were the only gifts she would receive. The little girl took a deep breath, inhaling the spice of citrus that scented the room. The tang of oranges meant Christmas had come — the only time of the year that such delicacies were afforded.
“Papa already had the family Bible opened to the second chapter of Luke and when the children assembled around him, he began to read. “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” The little girl knew this story well. Papa read it every Christmas morning. “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” The little girl loved this part —loved thinking about a tiny newborn, wrapped tightly against the chilling December cold.
“Thanking God for the abundance of the year, Papa finished in prayer, remembering God’s great provision for all their needs. Even the little girl realized how easy it was to be thankful on Christmas, since her faith in the stocking would soon become sight. With Papa’s amen, each child scurried to their own chair and began careful quarrying of its treasures. A handful of unshelled walnuts. A stick of striped peppermint. An extra pair of socks. A Florida orange and a crisp, store-bought apple. These were treats that the little girl looked forward to all year.
“Once these traditional specialties were unearthed, the little girl was surprised to find one more item left in her stocking. As she reached deeply into the toe of her sock, she brought up something cold and hard. Sliding her hand out, she discovered a tiny, celluloid doll with hand-painted hair and rosy pink cheeks. The dolly wore a simple, cream night shirt with matching panties. This was her first doll and she couldn’t be more perfect.”
At this point, I interrupted my mother’s story in amazement. “She’d never had her own doll before?”
“No,” continued Mother. “She had played with her sister’s doll and had seen them in the Sears, Roebuck catalog that Mama kept by her chair. But, this little girl had never had her very own doll.”
Mother paused for a moment, as my thoughts ran wildly.
A little girl who’d never had her own doll? I felt a connection with this little girl and wished I’d known her. I could have given her one of mine. Through my mother’s words, this little girl came to life before my eyes.
Mother in 1924 with one of her sister’s dolls.
Read the third part here.