Despite the fact this story took place years ago, I recall it as if it were yesterday.  I have many childhood memories of Christmas with my family and I have always loved this time of the year.  This particular year was no exception.

We were a poor family and Christmas was meager in our household.  Looking back, however, I would not trade those days for all the money in the world.  My sister and I looked forward to our yearly Christmas rituals.  We had two younger brothers who were somewhat removed from our traditions, being as they were boys and younger than us. They had their own Christmas rituals, though, like hanging my dad’s huge hunting socks for their treats instead of the normal size ones my sister and I used.  I am quite certain, also, that it was the two of them who polished off the cookies we always left for Santa and his reindeer.  I could never prove it, nor was I really quite sure, as my dad was under suspicion too.

We could always count on getting the same things every year, and every year it was a big deal.  We would hang up our socks on Christmas Eve and the next morning it would be filled with the same goodies;  an orange, some nuts, hard candy, and a little toy.   Under the Christmas tree would be a new pair of pajamas, socks, underwear, a new dress and a special toy.  Maybe two, if Santa did not get any bad reports about us during the year.

Well, that year Donna and I got one toy each.  My special gift was a doll.  Not just any doll.  She was the most beautiful doll I had ever seen in my life.  I was about 6 years old at the time.  This doll was about to change my life forever.

That fateful day started out just wonderful. My sister and I woke up around 7 o’clock in the morning.  It was quiet and chilly in the house.  The snow outside was falling so perfectly, it was like looking through a snow globe. It was Christmas morning and life was perfect.  Donna and I jumped out of the bed we shared to retrieve the Christmas socks.  This was our favorite ritual.  It was cold in the house so we quickly jumped back under the warmth of our covers with our goodies.  What a wonderful time we had eating our way through our Christmas socks.  We always ate the orange first.  We did not get much fruit and this was a real treat.  We ate some nuts then saved the candy for later.

By this time the rest of the family started to stir, so we got out of bed and made as much noise as we could innocently make so they would know it was time to see what Santa brought us. Through a blur of arms, wrapping paper, socks and underwear, I finally got to the gift I just knew was going to be something special.  I could not believe my eyes when out of the box I removed the most beautiful doll I had ever seen.  She was about a foot tall and had gold spun hair.  She was the likeness of one of God’s perfect angels.  I could hardly breath, she was so beautiful.  She was a stand-alone doll so I put her in front of me and just stared at her.  Then it happened.  My sister, in her unforgivable clumsiness, knocked her over.  Before I could grab her, she fell hard to the floor on her face.  I knelt down and gingerly turned her over and to my horror, saw the extent of her injuries.  Her beautiful porcelain face was smashed to smithereens.  Her perfect lips were gone.  I could feel my heart racing and hoped this was just a bad dream.  That’s about the time my mom announced it was time to get ready for church. Church? I couldn’t believe it. How could I get ready for Church?  I couldn’t  move. My sister mumbled a feeble “sorry” and skipped off to get ready.  Didn’t anyone notice what was going on?  I yelled at my mom and she told me not to worry about it, that she would take care of it later and now I was ordered to get dressed.   All I could think about in church was my broken doll and my broken heart.

Over the next few days, I grieved with little or no comfort from my family.  In all fairness, they had no idea how much that beautiful doll meant to me as I was not speaking to them.A couple of days later, my mom came home from shopping with a small box under her arm.  She handed it to me with a big smile on her face.  I opened the box and there inside was a new doll.   She had stringy dark brown hair and a rubber face.   On her arm was a tag with the name of a department store printed in big bold letters.  I faked a smile but inside I thought, “If Santa could only see this”.

I guess my mom really did care about my feelings.  She did what she thought would make me happy.  I never let on to her that I thought it was the ugliest doll I had ever seen.  I ended up giving it to my cousin Linda a couple years later.  Yes, I did forgive my sister and eventually moved on with my life.

In the years since, I have learned that the greatest gifts of all are good friends, good health and the love of family.  I wish this for you and your family in this upcoming year and all the years to come.                                                                The End


                                                                 Jo Ann                        

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Me with my doll, mom, Ken, Donna and Butch (David)

P.S. A couple of years ago, I wrote a short story about this incident for my sister for her Christmas gift. It was a nice story.  Well guess what I got the following year for Christmas?  You guessed it. A doll even uglier then the first replacement.  She could have been “Chuckey’s” sister, she was so scary looking.  One eye was missing as was most of her hair and I swear I heard her whisper my name.

Will I ever learn?

Front Porch Story Time

A Christmas Story