After Mom turned six, in November 1945, her mother and father informed the children that there was no money for Christmas presents that year. The parents were sorrowful and resigned, while the children—Mom being the oldest—naturally felt disappointed. Still, they were used to not having many material things, so the news was not a shock or a trauma, just a disappointment. Though they were poor, they did not think of themselves as poor. They did not have many possessions, but they were tender and loving with each other and enjoyed the richness of home and family, church and community, music and literature. With this radiance, the children rapidly reconciled their disappointment and looked forward to Christmas morning nonetheless. Christmas was still a happy, hopeful season. Sauntering slipper-footed into the living room on Christmas morning, Mom saw a new doll in the corner, meant for her. She joyfully picked up the doll, not having expected any gifts at all, and began to love it and play with it. Soon, however, she discovered, with a sinking feeling, that the new doll was in fact last year’s doll, made up to look new. Mom’s mother, Dorothy, had clipped locks of her own auburn hair and sewn them to a band, which she stitched to the doll’s head, concealing the band with a new little bonnet. After her realization, Mom regrouped and was happy about her new doll, feeling gratitude for her mother’s efforts during a challenging era to provide for her and her younger siblings. The orange and peanuts in her stocking added a measure of pleasure to the day. Knowing Dorothy so well (she passed away at age 96), I was moved, thinking of her cutting off lengths of her own hair to make a gift for her little girl. Of course, this was only one of infinite sacrifices Dorothy made for her children. My mother, in turn, made infinite sacrifices for her children, as I have done for mine, and as my children are beginning to do for theirs. And so it goes.
(Image by Christiane M. from Pixabay. Sadly, no photo of Mom’s doll is known to exist.)