By Rachel Harper
When I was little, Christmas was always an exciting time for me and my brothers and sister. We would continually look through the Sears and Roebuck Wish Catalog to start making our lists as to what we wanted for Christmas. I can remember making a list, but I really don’t remember going to see Santa Claus and sitting in his lap. Knowing me, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to do that anyway! I would always wish for a new baby doll. I didn’t care if I had a dozen, by the time the next Christmas rolled around they would be looking pretty worn out; they had been tended to and loved up by that point. I can still remember going to the living room and looking under the Christmas tree to see what Santa Claus had brought me. I can remember one Christmas Eve lying in bed, not being able to sleep for the excitement, and sometime in the middle of the night, I heard the sound of bells like they were on the roof; for real!!! I couldn’t believe my ears, but I heard them! Since Daddy was a dairyman the cows still had to be milked, even on Christmas morning, so we had to wait until he came in from the barn to go in the living room to see what Santa had left under the tree.
I know Daddy had probably gotten up a little earlier on that morning so he could get through earlier, knowing we were going to be beside ourselves to go look under the tree in the living room. Sure enough, there would always be a beautiful, brand new baby doll which I immediately fell in love with. Their hair would be so soft and pretty, not a tangled, ratty mess like my old dolls, although I tried very hard to keep them looking pretty. They would have on the prettiest little outfit and sometimes I would get “things” to go with them like a bottle, new clothes or a baby bed. I would become that little doll’s Mama and I would tend to it, talk to it, and treat it like a new real little baby. I loved it!! After we had Christmas at our house, we all couldn’t wait to go up to my Grandma and Granddaddy Wilson’s house to have another Christmas up there and to eat Christmas lunch up there with them. Aunt Harriette, Uncle Lamar, Sandra and Sally, Great-Aunt Bertie, and Uncle Bert(really Aunt Bert) and Louise Gardner from Decatur, Georgia would always be there, too.
When we got up to Grandma’s, she would always take us to the fireplace hearth in the dining room and show us the print of Santa Claus’s boot in the ashes! There it was plain as day! All of us grandchildren were in amazement! If that doesn’t make a believer out of you, I don’t know what will! We would always have a big Christmas lunch of turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings and dessert was always cakes, pie, and homemade ambrosia that Bertie would always make. But us children could have cared less about the eating, we wanted all the adults to get through so we could go to the living room and open more gifts. After eating, of course the women would start cleaning off the tables and cleaning up in the kitchen until they got tired of us asking, “Aren’t you almost done?!”
It was pure torture to us children! Louise Gardner was Uncle Bert’s daughter. She never married and she worked at Woolworth’s Dept. Store in Atlanta.
Almost every year when we were little she would give us the most beautiful dolls you had ever seen. These were not baby dolls, but grown up dolls about 14 inches high or so and have on the most beautiful fancy long dresses. Their faces would have makeup on them and their eyes would have long eyelashes. They also had little earrings in their ears. I loved my baby doll, but I also loved these grown-up looking dolls that “Easie” always brought us. Since Marty, my brother, was the only little boy at the time, I can’t remember what she brought him, but it was something nice, too, like a play horse or a pistol and holster.
Bertie and I kept those dolls all through the years and Mama kept them in the living room on the couch after we got grown and married. Sadly, they had been loved to death and it showed. Mama even had Mrs. Stewart, our neighbor, make new dresses for them which did help quite a bit. But, their hair needed some help, too.
After Bertie’s son, Arthur married and had little girls of his own, Mama offered the dolls to his girls as they were enthralled with them when they would come to visit. They were delighted to get them, but their Daddy confessed that those dolls gave him the “willy-nilly’s”!! They had glass eyes and he said they were always looking at him; he couldn’t take it!! So as the saying goes, all good things come to an end. Now Sandra Hawkins, Marty, Sally Stephens, Bertie Alligood, Tim, and I all have children and grandchildren that we are making memories with and they are creating their own memories that will last with them their whole lives. I wish all of you the merriest of Christmases and a truly blesses Christmas season with your loved ones. I give God thanks and glory for sending His son as a tiny babe at Christmas who would grow up to be the Savior of the world by giving His life on the cross to save us from our many, many sins.