Stories from the Muddy

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Dolly For Gladys

By Naomi Lewis

Gladys held her mother’s gloved hand.  The snow under their feet sounded like croaking frogs.  The little girl laughed.  She looked around her mother’s swaying coat at her twin brother, Glen, holding their mother’s other hand.

 The four year old babies, dressed in look-alike red coats, could have passed for Santa’s helpers on their way to join their neighbors at church on Christmas eve.  As they went inside, their cheeks tingled with warmth.  They clung to each other when their mother led them to  a crowd of excited children.

Herschel, Glen and Gladys Gates
            When Santa came bounding into the room in his red suit and long white beard, Gladys and Glen flew over the pew to their mother, scared of his frightful appearance and loud, “Ho, ho, ho.”

            The Christmas tree was loaded with gifts, but only one caught Gladys’ eye and held her entranced – a dolly in a velvet dress that matched her own red coat with a fur collar and little suede boots.  How she longed for that doll.

            After cookies and songs and an endless program, Gladys’ eyes were still enraptured with the dolly hanging on the tree – the doll her folks had brought for her without her knowing.

            Santa began handing out presents.  “Glen Gates,” Santa
called and lifted an engine and caboose off the tree.  Glen looked
at Gladys.  Their eyes were wide with excitement.  Glen hesitated,
but finally, his desire for the prize overcome by his fear of the big
 man dressed in red and white.

           When Glen ran back with his train, he fell into his mother’s arms.  As much as Gladys wanted to touch the train, she never turned her eyes from the doll hanging on the tree.

            As Santa called out each child’s name – tops, pop guns, trucks and teddy bears all disappeared into the arms of waiting children.  Each time a child’s name was called, Gladys held her breath, afraid the doll would disappear.
           To Gladys, the gift-giving seemed to take forever.  All the names were called and all the presents were gone, except the dolly still hanging in its place.  Gladys knew her name had not been called.  She looked at her mother and glanced at her dad.  She forgot to breathe in her fear and anticipation.  Gladys had only one desire in the world  – to have that dolly for her own.

           Santa shouted a loud, “Ho, ho, ho,” making Gladys jump, as he lifted the doll from its bough and stared at the tag.  The room was hushed.  One couldn’t even hear a jingle or a jangle, a plop or a peep. 

           “The last gift is for Santa.  I always wanted a little girl of my own,” Santa said, laughing.

           Tears welled up in Gladys’ eyes and sprang over, rolling down her cheeks onto her folded hands.   A child could not have been more disappointed after watching so long and waiting so patiently. 

Gladys Louise Gates

            Then Santa came to kneel in front of her.  “Do you think I would have forgotten you, little one?” Santa asked.  “This dolly belongs to Gladys Gates.”  The crowd clapped and Gladys couldn’t help the squeal that escaped her open mouth.  She reached out, her sadness turning to rapture, as Santa laid the dolly in her arms.  

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