|Pieces of Christmas|
We remember childhood in bits and pieces. Some parts we might want to forget, but others are magic everytime they surface. Since I'm in a reminiscent mood today, I think I'll share one of those magical pieces of my Christmas past.
NOW I WONDER
It was the week before Christmas and snow lay sparkling white and deep as the fence posts. What a relief to my seven-year-old heart. I wasn’t interested in playing in it so much as concerned that Santa’s sled could arrive. Although I knew his reindeer could fly, surely a good three feet of snow guaranteed that should they get tired of being airborne, they could still reach our tiny house in the sagebrush a good fifteen miles from the little town of Monticello, Utah.
Confident that a visit on Christmas Eve was assured, my sisters and I flitted from one activity to another, willing the time to pass. My mother, however, seemed quite busy in one corner of the dining room.
“What are you sewing, Mama?” I asked. “Dollclothes?”
“For some little girls who need them.”
My younger sister and I eyed each other. “We need them,” we said, pressing closer.
Mama smiled, holding a bonnet up for us to see. “Well, I’m making these and leaving them for Santa Claus to pick up when he comes here. I’ll write him a note so he knows to give them to some little girls he thinks might need them for their baby dolls.
“Oh.” Disappointment mingled with admiration. My mother—my very own mother—was making doll clothes for Santa! I knew I should be happy for whatever child he would take the beautiful bonnets and dresses to, so I resigned myself as best I could.
Mama sewed in all her spare moments. My sister and I took to leaving our barely clothed dolls near her, hoping she’d notice how needy they were and put in a good word for us with Santa.
Christmas Eve arrived at last. Mama helped us arrange a few cookies on a plate and a glass of milk, in case Santa wanted a snack before he left for his next house. She even braved the cold, dark night outside to bring an armload of hay onto the porch in case Santa’s reindeer wanted a snack as well.
There beside the cookie plate she placed her finished sewing with an accompanying note. I’d never seen such pretty doll clothes: One set of lavender organdy containing bonnet, bloomers and dress complete with tiny puffed sleeves and pearl buttons, and an identical set in cotton candy pink. I must have gazed at them a full ten minutes, visualizing how they would have looked on our dolls, thinking of how fun it would have been to dress them in such finery, and hoping that whoever got those clothes appreciated them as much as my sister and I would have.
“Santa can’t come until you’re all asleep,” Mama reminded us, and we scurried to hide under our covers, so full of anticipation that surely we could never relax long enough to drift off to dreamland.
But of course we did, waking again in the wee hours of the morning and managing to rouse the rest of the sleeping house.
“Let’s go see if Santa came,” Mama said, and we blinked our way toward the glaring light of Daddy’s movie camera.
Only a few crumbs were left on the cookie plate, and the milk glass was empty. “Well looky here,” Daddy said, picking up a note. In big letters I could read, “Thank you for the cookies and milk. Love, Santa.
A few scattered wisps of hay were all that the reindeer had left on the porch. Yes. Santa had definitely been here! But then I saw them, lavender and pink, laying there crisp and new, just like Mama had laid them out.
“Oh, Mama, I wailed. “Santa forgot to take the doll clothes!”
“Are you sure?” she ask.
“Yes, see?” I reached for the lavender set to show her. Just then I spied a note tucked under the pink bonnet. Unfolding it, I read,
Your mama asked me to give these to some little girls who needed them. I think your dollies could both use a new outfit.
|My doll wearing her lavendar organdy Christmas outfit.|
Enveloped in wonder of what Santa Claus had done, we rushed to dress our “babies” in the new finery. “Mama, look!” we squealed. “They fit perfectly. How did Santa know?
Mama’s eyes twinkled, but all she said was, “Now I wonder...”
Many Christmases have come and gone since that magic morning, and one never passes but that I see again my mother’s smile as she shared with us the enjoyment of the doll clothes she’d made “for some little girls who need them” and wondered with us how Santa could have ever known the exact size that would fit our babies…
This essay was previously published in the anthology Classic Christmas, edited by Helen Szymanski. (http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Christmas-Stories-Holiday-Goodwill/dp/B001QCX1NO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1324843481&sr=1-1)