Special to the Citizen
“No, you can’t get up yet. The heater has to warm up the house, and I have to turn on the porch light so Grandmother Welch and Daddy Harper know it is time to come over. “
“But, Mama, it’s six o’clock, and you SAID we could get up at six!”
“I said we couldn’t get up UNTIL six. Now we have to wait until the house is warm and the Welches have gotten here.”
It was the Christmas of 1952, ten months after my Daddy had died. I slept with my mother then, instead of with my Grandmother Brock, who lived with us. My father’s parents lived across the street, and my great-grandparents lived around the corner. I was blessed with family, but times were not easy. Mama was the bookkeeper at Fox Manufacturing Company in Rome, Georgia. We had everything we needed, but not everything we wanted. I had real doubts about Christmas presents that year, but I knew Santa would come through for me. I really, really wanted a bride doll. Mama told me that Santa had so many children to take care of that year that I shouldn’t expect too much. Lots of children didn’t have what they needed, much less what they wanted. She said he was going to need lots of help.
The doorbell rang, and Grandmother Welch and Daddy Harper burst through the door with presents in their hands. “Is it warm enough yet, Mama?” I was about to have an apoplectic fit!
“Yes, but put on your robe and slippers before you go to the living room.”
With great apprehension about what Santa was able to do that year, I pulled on my robe and slippers and headed to the living room. I hoped, I wished, I saw it! It wasn’t a brand new bride doll, but the Toni doll that Santa brought last year was dressed in the most beautiful bridal gown I could imagine. It was satin with handmade tatting around the Peter Pan collar, and Toni wore a veil that looked like a sheer curtain trimmed to fit her head with lace around the edges. She wore satin shoes with ribbon ties and carried a tiny white bouquet. Yes, Santa may have needed help that year, but he found the best help he ever could have. Everyone smiled when they saw me oooh and ahhh over the doll, but Grandmother Brock had the biggest smile of all.
Toni is still with me in the doll cabinet upstairs, dressed in all her finery. She is 64 years old now, and her bridal gown is 63, but she is as gorgeous a bride doll that ever thrilled a six-year-old.