"I can't wait until Christmas morning!" Ella whispered back eagerly.
"Me too!" Hailey agreed in her own whisper. "What time is it?"
I glanced over at the digital alarm clock on Papa's nightstand. "It's only 12 pm...not time yet."
I leaned over close to my sisters. "I say we go out to the living room and look at the big Christmas tree...what do you think?"
"Let's do it!" Hailey agreed eagerly.
"What are you guys doing?" Claire whispered frantically. "We're supposed to be quiet!"
"Mama and Papa and the girls are gone, remember?" I reminded them in a hushed tone.
"Then why are we all whispering?" Maggie asked.
"I don't know...habit, I guess!" I peered through the darkness, trying to see them. "We're headed out to see the big tree in the living room...want to come with us?"
"Sure!" Maggie answered. "Wow, Tess was this your idea?"
"I love Christmas!" Hailey burst out, overflowing with joy. "I wish Mama and Papa would keep a tree up all year long!"
"Then it wouldn't be as special," Claire pointed out. "We'd be so used to it, it would be no big deal."
"I guess so," Hailey admitted reluctantly.
"We'd better just enjoy it while we can," I said, leaning my head back to see as much of the huge tree as possible.
"It sure is weird not having Emma here," Ella remarked. "I figured Mama would keep us all together for Christmas. I'm just so glad she got Emily fixed in time!" Ella smiled over at her best friend, who returned the smile. Yes, Emily was finally back with us. She was still pretty weak, but she was back.
I tried not to worry too much about Emma. These things happened in a doll's life. And Emma was so sweet, it was impossible to be upset with her. It was an odd feeling to have second place in Mama's life, though.
Oh well, at least I would be able to spend Christmas with my sisters and my close friends. One thing about being a doll is you realize how much you need to treasure every moment. Our lives are filled with uncertainty. There's no guarantee that we'll all stay together, or last the same amount of time. There's always the prospect of eBay or Craigslist looming over us. Claire was the only one who hadn't had a previous owner, but even she understood the seriousness of our situation.
I knew Mama loved us, but I also knew she'd been really stressed out trying to care for us all. I shook my head. It would do no good to think about all that now. I wanted to live in the present and enjoy this Christmas as much as possible.
I had drawn Hailey's name, so I grabbed her gift and handed it to her. I couldn't wait to see her open it.
Now everyone got up and gave each person their gift. Maggie beamed down at me as she handed me a box. "I was so glad I got your name," she confided. "I hope you like it!"
"I'm sure I will," I assured her. I opened the box and found a beautiful porcelain church. When I picked it up, it jingled. It was a bell!
"That's what I figured," Maggie said happily.