I was seven years old in the winter of 1859, but I remember it like it was yesterday. This was to be our first Christmas on our new homestead. Papa had taken us across the land to settle in Kansas. What had seemed like an exciting adventure at the time had gradually turned into a burden. The approach of winter made matters increasingly worse. The small fireplace couldn't keep out the chill from the drafty walls or boarded-up windows. We couldn't afford a stove, so the baking had to be done over our fire. We couldn't even afford new clothing, so Mama worked fervently day and night to patch up our garments. She even transformed old, torn dresses into warm, beautiful quilts! If there was something we needed, she figured out a way to make it.
Christmas arrived, and my little sister and I woke early. Despite the chill in the air, we hopped out of bed and ran to Papa and Mama. We woke them by hugging them and yelling merrily, laughing the whole time. Jumping off their bed, we ran to look at the tree. We stopped suddenly and became still. There were no brown paper-wrapped packages this year. No candy or fruit in the stockings. My little sister started crying. I took a deep breath and turned around. For the first time I understood that we had no money for gifts, and I was ashamed that I had expected so much from them. I put on my best happy-face and gave Mama a huge hug. I wished her a happy Christmas and gave her another smile.
Mama and Papa called my sister over, who was still crying. They knelt, and Mama reached into her dress pocket. Although they couldn't afford to buy gifts, she explained, she had made something. She handed us two small dolls. My doll had a sunflower-yellow dress with lace trim, made from a small handkerchief. I recognized it as one of Mama's favorite hankies. My little sister laughed happily and ran off to play with her doll, but tears filled my eyes. I understood that the real gift wasn't the doll; it was Mama, who stayed up throughout the day and night to care for us, to sacrifice her own wants for her family. I was most thankful for her and Papa this Christmas, and the doll was a constant reminder of this.
©2020 by LEAHZ
PHOTO: A friend/co-worker purchased this "sunflower girl" to give as a gift to one of her friends who loves the color yellow! The dainty lace-trimmed handkerchief made the doll absolutely irresistible, adding a bit of sunshine on an otherwise overcast wintry day!
If you love these little dolls and their special stories, please leave a comment and share with others on your social media platforms! Thank you! Angela
My daughter "LEAHZ" and I write these short heirloom doll stories. The idea came from my daughter when, one day, she told me that I should use my creative writing skills to write a unique, one-page historical fiction story for each handkerchief doll. And, so, we joined up together and started writing! We hope you enjoy these sweet little tales! Angela Free