Porcelain-white skin, lips tinted rose, eyes painted with exquisite detail. What would her hair look like? Long blonde locks that brush her ankles, two auburn-colored braids that playfully hang down from each side of her ball cap, or raven-black ringlets that delicately frame her face – I could only guess. Most outfits were fancy gowns trimmed with lace, but another was a softball uniform, and one was a beautiful red sweater with plaid skirt that included ice skates as an accessory.
When I was a young girl, I remember running down Grandma and Grandpa’s stairs at Christmas time to the Christmas tree they had decorated so nicely. I’d gently search through the gifts until I found the one with my name on it. Every year the box was roughly the same shape and size, and I always knew what would be carefully wrapped up inside – and yet the excitement never waned.
When the time came for presents to be opened, my parents, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents would gather in a circle to read the Bible. As a child, it was so hard to sit still for the reading, so as soon as the scripture reading was finished, the kids would jump up and hand out presents to their grateful recipients. Everyone got one present from Grandma and Grandpa – simple and sweet.
Logs crackled in the fireplace, cheeks were pink from the heat of the fire, the murmur of relatives chatting could be heard, and the smell of delicious holiday food filled the room. All of this was drowned out as I started to unwrap my gift. The tag with my name on it was always written in my Grandma’s beautiful handwriting, and the rectangular boxes were expertly wrapped. I’d take my time unwrapping my gift, as I knew the suspense would only last a moment. After I removed the top of the box, I gently unfolded the tissue paper that protected my gift, and there she was – my new porcelain doll. For many years my grandmother picked out a new porcelain doll to give me for Christmas. Each and every one was special to me.
All throughout my childhood my dolls were displayed on my dressers, shelves, and any other open spaces I had in my room. I spent hours playing with them and combing their hair (which I found out later was not a great idea – doll hair is not like human hair). I still have my dolls, and now my daughter enjoys playing with them and taking care of them.
Grandma always loved dolls, and I was not the only one she bought porcelain dolls for. She also bought them for the other girls in the family, and for herself. She once told me that when she was a little girl, her family didn’t have much money, but she remembered getting a doll when she was young – a treasured possession. I often wonder if this was why she continued to collect dolls.
A few days ago, my great-uncle sent me a document that had been written by my great-grandfather (my grandma’s father) in 1977. In this document, Great-Grandpa reminisced of Christmas’ past, and I found a special mention of my grandmother (Connie) inside of it.
Christmas was better as our children came and gave us incentive for celebrating. Connie started Sunday school and the first year at Christmas program I remember her little poem, yet- so, it goes:
‘Presents large and presents small
But this is the best gift of all (she held up her doll).’
Reading this brought back the memory of my Christmas porcelain dolls – a Christmas memory that is still one of my favorites. I like to imagine the magic my grandmother must have felt when she opened up the doll she was given at Christmas when she was young. Was it the same kind of magic she gave to me each and every Christmas when I was a child? I’d like to think so.
To my readers: I hope you had a very Merry Christmas. A Christmas that was filled with tradition, loved ones, and fond memories. Do you have any special Christmas memories? I would love to read about them if you would be so kind as to share them in the comment section below.
Wishing you a Happy New Year!