notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Best Christmas Ever

My novel, JUST WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED, is completely fiction.

Almost.

In the book, Cynthia (the main character) listens to her sister Angela’s remembrance of one long-ago Christmas.

Out of 92,000 words, this little anecdote – less than 800 words – is the one little bit of truth. A not-so-fictionalized account of the Christmas when I was five. The parents are my own Mom and Dad, and I am the little girl who received a fabulous present.

**************

 

“Is my life a waste if I am good at selling clothes?  What if this is just what I always wanted?”

Angela smiled in that serene way that makes me want to kiss her on the top of her head. She leaned back in her lawn chair and said to the sky, “What was the best Christmas present that you ever got?”

“The Snow White doll. No question.”

“Do you remember the story of the Snow White doll?”

“Just vaguely,” I answered, although I knew the story like I knew my prayers. But, oh, to hear it again, especially Angela’s version.

“Well,” she began, “that was the year that Mary Ann and I both had whooping cough. Mom wouldn’t leave us, not for a minute. It was just before Christmas, and she couldn’t shop. She had to send Dad out to buy the presents. Dad, who was hard pressed to buy a birthday card for Mom. Remember the time she sent him out for more bows for the Christmas presents and he came back with Hanukkah bows? Mom was beside herself, but he said that they were very pretty and on sale too, and so the Christmas presents that year had red and green paper and blue and white bows…now that I think of it, it may have been the same year…

Anyway, she gave him our Christmas lists that we had written to Santa, and told him to do his best.

On Christmas Eve, it got to be quite late before Mom and Dad started putting our presents under the tree. Mary Ann got the right side, near the piano, and I was on the left, near the door, and your presents were right in the middle, right under the center of the tree. Mom counted every present and made sure we all got exactly the same number of gifts.

‘They’ll count,’ she said, and you know we always did. She actually put away one present for Mary Ann that she saved for her birthday, so it would all be even-steven. She put out books, and games, and lacy socks, and ribbons, and a little horse with hair you could comb for Mary Ann, and a pogo stick for me. Remember that pogo stick? That was my all-time favorite. After everything was laid out and looked so beautiful, Mom sat admiring it all. Then she saw what was missing.

‘Where’s Cynthia’s doll?’ Mom asked Dad.

‘What doll?’ he said. ‘Look at all this great stuff!’

But no, Mom said, ‘Cynthia has to have a doll. She just has to have a doll.’

Well, you were five years old. You had never had a Christmas or a birthday without a doll. And Mom made Dad go out again late Christmas Eve to find a doll. It wasn’t like now, where there’re huge stores all open twenty-four hours. No, everything was locked up tight, and Dad drove around the deserted town looking for any store that might be open. And he finally saw a light. It was Noveck’s Pharmacy, and they were open for ten more minutes. And he bought the Snow White doll.

And he came home with this doll, and Mom gave him cocoa. And took away your crinoline slip and gave it to you for your birthday, so it would all still be even.

The next morning was the best Christmas we have ever had. Dad had interpreted our lists very liberally, and so we got what we had asked for, but in very unexpected ways.

Mary Ann had wanted a Liberace record and a jigsaw puzzle, but she had written it on one line, and Dad actually found a jigsaw puzzle of Liberace. And I got real seashells, when I had asked for seashell barrettes. Oh, we were delighted!

And you! You saw that Snow White doll and it was full-blown love. And when you opened the box and took out the doll, you saw that the cardboard scene behind the doll lifted out. And guess what was behind the cardboard? Why it was all the seven dwarfs. Dad didn’t even know that he hadn’t bought one doll, he bought eight!”

“I’ll love those dolls till the day I die.”

“Do you remember what you said when you saw them? You said, ‘This is just what I always wanted.’”

“It was true.”

“But you had never seen those dolls before. How could they be just what you always wanted?”

“Because I didn’t know it until I saw them.”

“Exactly,” said Angela.

snowwhitedolls

These are the exact same dolls I received for my fifth Christmas. My brother later teethed on the rubbery dwarfs until the paint was gone. Probably caused brain damage.

 

30 Comments

  1. Christine

    I remember that doll very well. I also remember that the dwarves seemed to last forever, a lot longer than the doll. There would always be one of them lying around somewhere.

    Like

    • Yup – with all the paint scraped off by our little brother.

      Like

  2. Oh, I love this story!!! Really lovely. Do you have a novel in the works or is it out already? (I should probably already know this….)
    Merry Christmas! I hope you find more of what you’ve always wanted.

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  3. Susan

    Although I don’t remember any of this – I must have been what – just a year old, I can just picture Uncle Tom going out and doing things just they way you described them, (Daddy did the same thing the year he decided I “needed” a bride doll for Christmas – Christmas eve from First National). Even – steven was the rule in our house also – equal number of presents, right down to the number of nuts that Mom put in our stockings (God forbid anyone got 1 more pecan than the others). Dwarf induced brain damage….so that what happen to him…makes sense. Thank you for bringing back such wonderful memories (I had the center spot under the tree also). We all have wonderful memories do to our wonderful families.

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  4. Fathers always bought the magical gifts it seemed. Mothers were more practical. Even though I read this in your book it really made me laugh here! Have a very merry Christmas! ~Elle

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    • Thanks.. my father never shopped – except for that year. It was a Christmas miracle!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sure the dwarfs made it through without brain damage …

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    • except for Dopey.

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      • But unfortunately Dopey was born that way -or was he?

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  6. That is such a lovely story. I read it in your book, but I’m so glad you reprinted it here! Christmas stories should be told again and again.

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  7. Ray G

    Simply another reason I was so shocked when I got to know your whole family (compared to mine), ‘way back when.

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    • Ray G

      Er, shocked in a good way, that is.

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  8. Such a sweet story. Having lost my dad when I was eight months’ old, stories like this always tug at my heart.

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    • I know how lucky I am, Dianna, to have had such a sweet childhood.

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  9. Delightful!

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  10. I remember this story in your book, I am glad to know it is the one true thing. Magical.

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    • That doll was the best Christmas gift ever – and once I was older and knew the story of how my father bought it, it became even sweeter.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. LindaLuNC

    Great Christmas story. Love your posts!

    Like

    • Thank you – there’s nothing I like better than to make someone smile with my stories.

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  12. What a magical story. And even more magical, I think that picture is one I took when I sold that Snow White doll and all the dwarves on Ebay a couple of years ago when I was really into selling vintage dolls. I am not even kidding here.

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    • OMG – Really???? I loved those dolls and that was the BEST photograph! Made me want to buy them back. I can’t believe it was YOU! I knew you were my long-lost SISTER!!!

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  13. Sally Habib

    I loved dolls and I don’t remember those at all…
    You are probably way younger than me …
    Great story …

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    • thanks…. I think it was Christmas of 1956 – (that’s when I was five)….

      Like

  14. Congrats on your novel on Amazon. What a thrill.
    Cute story (the dwarfs’s paint…a little lead never hurt anyone Ha Ha!)
    Hope your Christmas is merry and bright.

    Like

  15. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

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