What a week it's been! I don't know about you, dear readers, but I'm completely exhausted after all of the Christmas excitement. Mama, Papa and their girls got back home yesterday with all of their Christmas goodies and overnight bags, and things have been crazy ever since. The house wasn't really that clean to begin with, and now it's completely chaotic.
Of course, Emma came back when Mama did. I wasn't sure how I'd feel when I saw her again. It was so hard that she was the one who got to experience Christmas with Mama's family this year, while I stayed behind. I had a wonderful Christmas with my sisters and friends, but I still missed being with Mama.
When she first came in the door, Emma headed straight to the doll room where we were all waiting for her.
Greetings and conversations flowed all around us, but I found it difficult to contribute. I didn't really know what to say to her. I didn't want to make her feel bad, but I didn't really feel like acting all endearing, either. I noticed Emma catching my gaze a couple of times. She looked concerned.
When the excitement had died down and most of us had gone back to playing with our new Christmas things or rearranging the doll room, Emma pulled me aside from the others.
"Tess," she began quietly, "I...I read your Christmas Morning post." Her eyes were pained.
I felt my face turn red, remembering some of the conflicting feelings I'd written about.
"I only read it because I was with Mama and she was making sure it had published properly." Emma looked down at her feet. "I saw my name and couldn't look away." She looked up at me again, her eyes brimming over with tears. "I had no idea you felt that way! I wasn't trying to take your place...if I would have known, I would have insisted that Mama take you instead. Or maybe I could have stayed here too, or..." Her voice trailed off. "I'm so sorry," she whispered.
I was ashamed of my feelings. I should have known that Emma wouldn't try to usurp my place as Mama's favorite. It was a position I'd never asked for in the first place, so why should I be so defensive about it now? I wondered if Emma had been able to enjoy her Christmas at all after reading my post.
"I'm sorry, too," I finally said. "It's just been a little weird, you know? I know you're not doing anything to try to influence Mama...I just never realized how much I valued being her favorite doll."
"I think you still are her favorite!" Emma said. "She talked about you a lot, especially when she was looking at your blog. She's really glad you and Maggie are getting more followers and making it a success." Emma chewed her bottom lip. "I wish I could write like you do."
"And I think you're her favorite," I replied. "Mama hasn't been able to stop talking about you or taking pictures of you since you came. She's never won anything as exciting as you before."
"How could I be her favorite?" Emma contradicted. "I just got here! I feel like a fish out of water, the outsider while all the rest of you have your own little niche." Her face was sad.
I felt bad. I'd never thought about how hard it would be to be the new girl when all of us were already so close.
"I think," I said carefully, "that we've wasted too much time worrying about which of us is Mama's favorite. I mean, it doesn't really matter. She loves all of us." It was hard to spit those words out, but after I'd said them, I realized they were true. Mama did try to love all of us as equally as possible. Emma would always be special to her because of the way she came to be a part of our family...plus she looked a lot like Mama. But each of us would always have a special part in Mama's life too. "I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'll try not to be so sensitive about it. I'm sorry, it might take me a while to get used to things the way they are, but I'll try."
Emma was beaming. "Thank you, Tess," she said softly. Suddenly, a mischievous look came into her eyes. "Hey, I brought you something," she whispered confidentially.
I looked at her curiously.
She pulled a folded napkin out of her pants pocket and handed it to me.
I unwrapped it and gasped in delight. "Mama's aunt's Christmas fudge, and one of her gingerbread cookies! Oh, I've been missing these all year!"
Emma grinned happily. "Mama said they were your special favorite. I snitched some from the snack table before we left."
I bit into the fudge and closed my eyes in pure bliss. There was nothing like Mama's aunt's fudge and gingerbread at Christmas time. As I took another bite, I asked, "So, did I hear you telling Hailey that you took some pictures?"
"How would you like to do your own blog post, about your Christmas?"
She blinked. "Really? You'd let me?"
"Sure!" I agreed. "I'll talk it over with Maggie first, but I don't think she'll have a problem with it. I think our readers would like to see how you spent your Christmas, too."
"Wow..." Emma said slowly. "I don't know what to say! I mean...sure! I'll do it, if you really want me to."
"I do," I said firmly, more to myself than to her. It wasn't easy to open myself to the possibility that Mama liked Emma better than me, but I knew that I would be missing out on a great friendship if I let bitterness take over my heart. Another thought hit me, and I grinned. "And we still need to have a nice, long chat about Jane Austen. Maggie only lasts about 5 minutes before she starts rolling her eyes or yawning."
Emma's whole face lit up. "I'd love that!!"
So, Emma will be doing her special post right after I'm done with this one. I hope you all enjoy it and give her lots of encouragement, as it is her very first blog post ever.
Oh, and for those of you who are wondering, we still have another Belle post in the works. We're all trying to get back into the swing of things after the holidays. :}