Rebecca Waters left her position as a professor of teacher education in December 2012 to actively pursue her writing career. She shares her writing journey in her weekly blog, A Novel Creation. Rebecca has published several freelance articles including two submissions in the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Standard Publishing’s Lookout Magazine, The Christian Communicator, Church Libraries, and Home Health Aide Digest. Rebecca’s debut novel, Breathing on Her Own, was released on March 24, 2014 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.
The Christmas Doll
A Christmas Story by Rebecca Waters
“I can’t believe you gave her away!” I practically shouted at my husband as soon as our company pulled out of the driveway. We had just moved into our new house. My friend, Tammy, and her family had come to help us unpack. My daughters, now all in their teens, had little interest in toys. But the doll of my childhood caught the eye of Tammy’s little girl.
“What did you want with that old doll?” Tom asked.
The doll in question wasn’t an ordinary doll. She was a Cinderella doll. My parents gave her to me for Christmas when I was five years old. We lived in Ohio, but we were moving to Arizona. I suffered from asthma. My parents were sacrificing work, family, and friends to move to Arizona where the warm weather promised a healthier environment for me. The plan was to spend Christmas with my grandparents in Kentucky then hit the road for the four-day drive to Tucson.
Although I had my five-year-old heart set on a BB gun, I was happy to open my Cinderella doll on Christmas morning. She was over two feet tall and had two beautiful satin and lace dresses, one blue and one pink. She came with a jewelry box shaped like a golden coach. Inside were earrings, a sparkling necklace and a shiny tiara. Best of all, Cinderella wore real glass slippers, except they were made of plastic.
I had to admit to my husband, Cinderella had seen better days. She only had the blue gown left. She didn’t have her jewels anymore and her glass slippers were missing. She had been through a lot. Cinderella had been my friend in my travels and when we moved back to Ohio, she lay on my bed like Sleeping Beauty.
Our farmhouse burned down when I was in fourth grade, but my dad managed to save Cinderella. Her solid gold carriage jewelry box melted like plastic with all her real honest to goodness fake jewels in it. She had been asleep on my bed when the fire broke out so of course she wasn’t wearing her shoes. I’m pretty sure the glass slippers were part of the molten mess that had once been our house.
We moved to Florida when I was a teenager. Although I didn’t play with Cinderella anymore, she remained a faithful friend. I envisioned that one day I would have a daughter of my own. I pictured giving her a makeover, but since my own children didn’t express any interest in the doll, the makeover never happened.
Then Tom gave her away. I was reeling. I wanted to cry. Tammy’s little girl had seen Cinderella as we opened a big box in the garage. She immediately wanted to hold her. I didn’t see any harm in that. I liked the idea that someone appreciated my doll. Little Kendra carried Cinderella around all afternoon as we unpacked box after box.
When it was time for them to leave, Tammy told her daughter it was time to give Cinderella back to me. I smiled and held out my hand for the child to comply. Instead, she cried. She cried and my husband gave away my doll. Mine.
I was forty years old. I knew I shouldn’t want to fight over a doll with a four-year-old child. I smiled, hoping I looked gracious and sweet. I nodded and Cinderella got into the car with a new owner.
Would Kendra know to how to care for her? Would she dress her carefully and let her walk across the coffee table as Prince Charming watched in awe? Did she even have a dog she could pretend was Prince Charming? She was four. Did she know who Cinderella was?
I tried to explain to Tom how much I valued the doll. He pointed out that for the last several years Cinderella had been in a storage box. If she was that important to me then I would have cleaned her up and had her displayed somewhere. I had to admit he was right. I also reminded myself that I needed to let go of “things.” I prayed about it. By the next day, I had reconciled myself to the idea of Cinderella moving to a new home. I found I was actually happy to think of the joy she would now bring to Kendra.
We settled into our house, met our new neighbors, and had a several cookouts that summer on our new deck. The autumn provided a stunning backdrop of warm orange, yellow, and red leaves to our new home. After Thanksgiving we set up our Christmas tree and put lights up on the eaves of our front porch. We invited friends and family members over for small holiday gatherings. At one of these, Tammy and her husband arrived a few minutes early carrying a large wrapped box.
“For you,” Tammy smiled.
Cinderella had never looked more beautiful. Tammy had slipped the doll away from her daughter that first night when Kendra went to bed. Tammy’s mother, a seamstress, had made the doll a new white satin and lace dress using the tattered blue gown as a pattern. She had also sewn for her a red velvet cloak to keep her warm in the winter months. Tammy had washed Cinderella’s hair and given her a good bath. She bought a doll stand so that my childhood friend could be displayed with care. I cried as I set the doll in the stand to be displayed and hugged Tammy.
I used to look at my Cinderella doll and remember that Christmas when I was five. I thought of the doll as the faithful friend who never left me. Now the doll stands in the dining room, I remember a Christmas not so long ago and I think of a true friend. One who looked into my heart and restored a memory.
Molly Tipton and her husband have finally arrived. Their daughters are grown. Two beautiful grandchildren delight their hearts and retirement is within sight. Until Molly’s older daughter, Laney, is in a terrible accident, leaving her seriously injured and her best friend dead. Worse yet, is the realization that Laney was driving under the influence of alcohol. If she can ever walk again, there’s still the risk of jail time.
Losing control of a car is one thing, but when had Laney lost control of her life? How could God let this happen? Gripped with fear, shame, and doubt, Molly questions her own beliefs. Can her relationship with her daughter be restored? How about her faith in the God who allowed all this to happen?
Breathing on Her Own is available on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle versions:
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