Christmas, By Barbara Ketter

It was a cold crisp morning. There was a gentle snow falling outside my bedroom window. It was still dark outside, but I was wide awake. I crept out of bed and tip-toed through the kitchen, peering through the dining room into the living room. Yes, Santa had come. I saw piles of presents under the tree. I ran into my parents’ bedroom telling them to get up, “Christmas is here.” Dad donned his robe and slippers and padded into the living room to turn on the lights on the Christmas tree. Mom also put on her robe and slippers, walked through the kitchen to the back staircase and called up to my brothers to get out of bed and come down. I ran back into the living room waiting impatiently for the family to gather. I wondered what Santa had brought. Our family had gone to see the windows on State Street and the great tree in the Walnut Room of Marshall Field’s. Mom and I had visited the doll department. I saw the Madame Alexander dolls in their beautiful dresses. This was the 1940s and I knew my parents couldn’t afford these dolls.

First, Dad passed out our stockings. I reached in to pull out the goodies. I found I had a chocolate Santa, a candy cane, a package of gum, an apple and an orange, walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, a big Brazil nut and my favorite—a large molasses and gingerbread cookie shaped like St. Nicholas, with his picture glued to the cookie with white icing.

Dad started to hand out the presents. I received some pajamas and socks, a matching knit hat, scarf and mittens. I also received another Raggedy Ann and Andy book towards my set. My brothers received another Wizard of Oz book towards their set. All the time my eyes were watching a large box in the back, under the tree. But Dad kept on handing out presents to my brothers.

Shirley Temple has been with me now for some 60 odd years.

Finally, Dad handed me the large box. I opened it. There was my old Shirley Temple doll dressed as a bride. “Shirley you look so beautiful,” I said to her. “Your white satin dress has ruffles. Look at your long white veil.” I looked up to see my Mom watching me, and realized that she had sewn this outfit for my favorite doll. A mother’s love is expressed in many ways. I always knew Mom loved me, but didn’t think of all the time, effort and patience it took her to so tediously sew such small stitches and string pearls. Shirley Temple has been with me now for some 60 odd years. Her eyes don’t open as good as they once did, her head is somewhat wobbly on her neck, she is missing three fingers, her cheeks have some cracks, but she still sits in the glass doll cabinet in the living room—waiting for some little girl to take her out and play.

GeNarrations’ next session begins the week of January 15 and will be inspired by themes from the new play Blind Date. If you are interested in joining, please contact Education and Engagement Assistant Adrian Azevedo at