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2011 CM Christmas Anthology: Tiny Tears - memories of Christmas past

A CHRISTMAS CLASSIC; This delightful story was first posted on 2002-12-27 at 15:50:16. It might be entitled "A Child's Christmas in Casey County. Marrowbone, Cumberland County, KY, Postmaster Judy Somerville, a resident of Columbia, Adair County, KY shared this classic with ColumbiaMagazine readers nine years ago, as Tiny Tears -- memories of Christmas pastIt's one to read over and over each Christmas

by Judy Somerville

It was Christmas Eve 1957 and I had just turned ten. I still believed in Santa (kids believed in Santa much longer then), and I just knew that this year I would receive the most beautiful baby doll in the world "Tiny Tears" and after her mommy (which would be me) would finish feeding her a bottle she would cry real tears and wet her diaper.

My sister Debbie was hoping for a "Betsy Wetsy" but mine would be so much better because, (a) she was prettier than Betsy, (b) this would be the first year that Tiny Tears would come with real hair (it would have a little wig that was glued to her head), (c) she would be a brunette like me (it's important for a baby to look like its mother), and last but not least, (d) she didn't come with a ready made name, so I could choose her name just like a real child.

I was so excited and nervous I could almost feel my nerves sticking out of my arms. Every little noise was amplified. I was the oldest of six children then and I slept with two of my sisters, so getting everybody still was hard work. It seemed like weeks passed before I fell asleep.

Suddenly someone, my brother Larry no doubt, shouted, "Santa's been here!" And children hit the floor and surrounded the pine Christmas tree like a swarm of locusts. I moved quickly but hesitantly to the tree somewhat fearful. What if she wasn't there! What if Santa had run out of Tiny Tears before he got to our house! After all, she was the most beautiful baby in the world!

And then the kids parted, and there she sat in a child-size wooden rocking chair nearly behind the tree. I ran, picked her up, and sat down holding Tiny Tears to my chest and rocked and rocked. Debbie said, "Oh, look Judy! Our babies each have their own little trunks with clothes and bottles and stuff!" And I wanted to look but I just couldn't bear to lay her down long enough to go through it, so I decided to wait til later. I had my baby doll, my precious Tiny Tears, and I just wasn't ready to let her go.

Mama came through in a little while and said, "OK kids, it three o'clock in the morning! Put your toys up and get back to bed. You've got all year long to play with them.'

In those days we didn't have a bathroom in the house, so mama put a little potty by the bed in the girls room so we wouldn't have to go outside in the cold. Of course the boys could well, you know what boys do! So mama said, Judy, make sure the "little'uns" use the potty before they get back in the bed.

"Mama," I pleaded, "Could I please take my baby to bed with me, I'll be real careful with her?"

"OK," mama said, "but if you mess up her hair, don't come crying to me. I've got enough heads of hair to deal with as it is."

So, I took care of the "little'uns" and at last climbed back into the bed. With visions of future tea parties and all the high society ladies I'd invite, I drifted off to sleep with my baby clutched to my heart.

Somewhere around eight o'clock Christmas morning I awoke with a start. My baby was gone! She was missing! I pulled back the covers. I looked under the bed. I ran into the living room to see if my brothers had kidnapped her. And finally I ran to Debbie, certain that she had come to her senses and realized that my baby was the prettiest.

"Where is she?" I cried, "Where is my Tiny Tears?!"

"Mom's got her," Debbie said without taking her eyes off the diaper she was changing for Betsy.


I started. In the kitchen. She answered without waiting for me to finish.

I ran to the kitchen and there stood mom at the sink. She was washing my baby's little sleeper on her hands. Mom turned around, took one look at my face, and said, "Remember what I said to you this morning before I went back to bed?"

Wide-eyed and worried I said, "Yes. Did I mess up her hair?"

Mama said, "Judy, honey, with so many kids in one bed you must have scooted over one time too many."

I mentally formed a picture of what mom had just said and suddenly, with a blinding flash of insight, I knew what had happened. My precious Tiny Tears had been "baptized" in the potty!! I was nearly hysterical with grief and remorse. Oh, why hadn't I put her back in the wooden rocker? Why hadn't I put her behind me so she wouldn't be on the outside edge? Why? Why? Why?!

"Now, listen," mama said, "i've washed her hair, her face and her ears with mild baby shampoo. I can't be too rough with her hair cause the glue may come loose. And I've got her sitting in the high chair over there in front of the open oven to dry. Her clothes came out fine, and I'll iron them for you when they get dry. You'll see, she's gonna be all right."

I thanked mama for helping my baby but I was still horrified at what had happened.

Well, my baby dried just fine, and her clothes looked as good as new after mom ironed them. Daddy had to re-glue her little wig in a couple of spots. But other than that she was good as new!

Well, almost.

You see, when she fell out of the bed she stood on her head in the potty. I don't know how long, but evidently just a little too long. Because she was wonderful to play with in the spring and fall of the year. But boy, come summer, when the weather was hot, it was a different story. I'd invite some of the best "society girls" in the neighborhood over for tea around two in the afternoon. Everything would be so lovely with pretend tea and real crackers for refreshments.

All the "mommies" would bring their "children" to show off and brag about. And everything would be just wonderful until one of the ladies would pick up my little "Sarah" (I named my Tiny Tears Sarah after my favorite grandmother, Mae Johnson, whose full name was Sarah Peggy Winifred Mae), well, you can see how I came to choose Sarah. Anyway, the same thing would happen every time! Mrs. Jones would say, "Why Mrs. Johnson, what an absolutely darling child, and such a beautiful face. But, (sniff, sniff), my dear, what is that smell?"

After this occurred several times, I finally decided to keep Sarah in the house and only share her with my closest and dearest friends.

The very next Christmas my Aunt Daisy came to visit. She was so good at playing house and giving pretend tea parties. She even baked real little tea cakes for our special Christmas tea that afternoon. Aunt Daisy said, "lets have our little tea party over here closer to the fire. Won't that be cozy?"

I could feel disaster looming over me, but I refused to acknowledge it. After all, it had been a whole year, hadn't it? Aunt Daisy asked me to pour the tea. I did.

She served our delicious little cakes and when we had finished, she said, "Now Miss Judy, I would like very much to meet this darling little baby of yours."

"You know," she said, as she lifted Sarah from her high chair," she certainly favors you. Such beautiful dark brown hair, those cute little cheeks, and those eyes! But, sweetie, (sniff, sniff) what is that smell?"

I sighed heavily and said, "You don't want to know." (c) JUDY SOMERVILLE

This story was posted on 2011-11-26 09:53:12
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