My mother grew up in a small rural Mississippi town during the Great depression era. She used to joke that they didn’t know there was a depression going on, as they were poor when it started and poor when it was over. She was the last of seven children. Usually, their Christmas presents were some fruit like oranges and perhaps a new set of clothes as most of the clothes she wore were hand me downs from her sisters.
I will never forget one Christmas eve as my mother was getting me ready for bed and I wasn’t sleepy as I was so excited about the Christmas morning to come. She started to brush my hair as was her custom every night before I went to sleep. I was holding tight the new dolly, I had just been given, as my parents always let me open one present on Christmas eve. It was a beautiful doll with long hair that I had seen in the Block’s department store that fall and they had put it in layaway back three months before Christmas for me. She was a special doll and I loved her very much. I remember asking my mother if she had ever had a special doll like mine. She said she did get a doll one Christmas, it wasn’t the doll she had hoped for as it had no hair and she had so wanted one with hair. She had seen them in the Sears catalog and one time when they went into the town of Laurel, Mississippi, she had seen one with real hair in the store window. Her parents couldn’t afford to pay that much but they somehow got her a doll that Christmas. She managed to hide her disappointment when her parents presented her with the doll and they never saw her tears she cried later that night, but she said she grew to love that dolly very much.
When at first she told me the story it made me sad and I tried to give her my dolly, the one with hair. She just smiled and hugged me and continued brushing my hair. I’ll never forget her words that night,
“Oh baby girl, don’t you see, I did get my special doll baby with real hair, I have you and you are better than any doll I could have ever had and I love you so very much.” I looked into her eyes and saw her tears, but they were tears of joy!