LITERATURE CAN WORK MAGIC
I’m not waiting for Black Friday. I went shopping yesterday for gifts to donate to the Christmas toy drive. If I delay, all the “good stuff” will be gone. I confess I came home with a prize: a life size baby doll complete with a bassinette, a pillow and a change of clothes. The price was more than I wanted to pay but the doll is beautiful and I’ve already admitted my weakness for them (Blog 7/4/2010).
I suppose my fascination began with a story I read when I was young and reread over the years. I found it in a book my paternal grandmother gave me. I have no recollection of her — not even her face — but I remember her gift and the many tales I loved.
One of my favorites is about poor girl who wanders the streets on Christmas Eve. She marvels at the colorful lights that cast their paler shadows across the snow. Decorated trees twinkle from most of the windows but at one, she pauses long enough to notice a children’s party is underway. The boys and girls are seated at a long table eating their Christmas pudding while the young hostess opens the first of the Christmas presents, a long box tied with a red ribbon. It contains a doll in a glittering ball gown. She’s so lovely even the boys nod their approval.
As the girl cradles her present, she glances up to discover a child peering in at the window. The stranger looks cold. Desolate. The girl with the doll starts to rise, a gesture which startles the one huddled in the snow. The latter turns toward the pavement, frightened by the sound of footsteps racing toward her. She too would have broken into a run but a small hand stays her. She turns and for a moment the two children stare at one another. Finally, the girl from the party breaks the silence. “Merry Christmas,” she whispers as she thrust her new doll into the stranger’s hands. Then, like a wraith or a dream, she disappears into her well lighted house.
After years of treasuring this story, one can understand why I can’t imagine Christmas without dolls. Each year I look for one that is special. Putting a doll into a child’s arms keeps my beloved story alive. On Christmas morning I will awake and know that somewhere in the city a little girl is opening the most wonderful gift she can imagine. That truth makes me happy.