Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope your holiday was filled with joy, family, and friends. :) Our Christmas was lovely.
Our celebration began on Thursday, when our cousins Katie and Lucy showed up! Hailey and I were so excited to see them. I've missed Katie a lot since she moved to Grandmama's house, and we haven't seen Lucy for most of the year, since she moved to Papa's mother's house. It was wonderful to be all together again.
The moment they came into the room, Katie waved to us excitedly. Lucy gave us a shy smile.
"Welcome back!" I said happily. Hailey and I raced over and gave them both hugs. "We've missed both of you so much!"
Katie smiled at me. "We've missed you, too."
"How have things been going at Grandmama's?" Hailey asked her.
"It's great over there!" our cousin replied. "I've made so many new friends. You girls have already met Ruthie and Janie. Then there's Caitlin, Ashley, Jess, and a bunch of other dolls that Mama's girls get to play with. You'll have to come visit me sometime!"
"I'm glad you're happy there," I said honestly, although I almost wished she would be unhappy, so that she would think about coming back. It was a fleeting, selfish thought, and I pushed it from my mind with determination. I needed to think about what was best for Katie. And at least she was close enough that we could still visit each other!
I turned my attention to my younger cousin. "What about you, Lucy? Have you been enjoying your new home?"
"Oh, yes!" she said with her six-year-old earnestness. "I have two best friends that are just my size! Their names are Lvina [pronounced "Elvina"] and Carolyn. Lvina has blonde hair and blue eyes and Carolyn has brown hair and brown eyes. We have our own special spot that we get to sit in together, and we have little dolls to play with. And cousin Julia and her friend Natalie take good care of us and make sure we behave."
Katie smiled fondly at her little sister. "She's loving it there," she assured us. "All the changes were for the best."
Hailey and I nodded, although there was still a part of us that would always wish for the old times. We were glad our cousins were so happy, though.
Lucy's eyes sparkled when she saw our pretty tree and all of the beautifully wrapped gifts underneath it. "I can't wait until Christmas!" she confessed.
"Neither can we!" Hailey admitted with a grin.
We all laughed and settled ourselves on the beds to visit.
The next two days were absolutely wonderful. We visited and talked and laughed. Since Mama and her family were gone for the holidays, we had the whole house to ourselves. We watched movies, ate snacks, visited with the other dolls, and even checked in on Robby, Belle, Ben, Rapunzel and Eugene (and their sweet little babies, of course!) to see how they were doing. Maggie never understood why I cared about the 12 inchers so much, but I had a soft spot in my heart for them. I was particularly concerned since Robby's injury. He'd always been one of my favorites, and I was glad to see he was continuing to improve.
Finally, Christmas Eve arrived. Maggie, Hailey, Rachel and I had discussed things before our company came and had decided that it would be fun to do a slumber party by our little tree this year. Since we had lights for the tree, it was much more cheerful than last year, when our tree was plain. It had been fun going out by the big tree last Christmas, but I liked the idea of all of us being snug and cozy in our room up on the dresser. Besides, Belle had asked me what our plans were and was hoping to have the big tree to herself for Christmas Eve, so it all worked out really well. :)
When it got dark on Christmas Eve, we all changed into our pajamas and everyone came over to our dresser room.
Maggie and her sister Mary sat and chatted by my curio cabinet.
Hailey was very sweet and let Lucy play with her Flynn and Rapunzel dolls. She also shared her stuffed animals with Rachel and Maddy. Rachel looked on pleasantly as Hailey, Maddy and Lucy played.
Katie and I sat on my bed and talked the night away. It had been so long since we'd had a chance to just sit and talk. I'd really missed our heart to heart talks we used to have. Katie and I had a lot of similarities and loved nothing more than sitting and chatting about them. :)
As my cousin talked, I watched her happily. Then I looked around the rest of the room. What a wonderful way to spend Christmas Eve! I wondered if Mama was enjoying her family tonight, too. I hoped that Emma, Hayden and Charlie were having fun with their cousins and friends. Some year, I hoped it would work for all of us to be together at Christmas time. But for now, I was content with the jolly group that surrounded us.
As it got later, we all gathered around the Christmas tree.
"Let's turn out the lights!" Rachel suggested. "Christmas lights always look prettier in the dark."
Maggie jumped up. "I'll get the lights," she volunteered. And quick as a wink, she jumped down from the dresser, ran across the hardwood floor, climbed up on the end of Mama's bed, and took a flying leap. She missed the light switch the first time (much to her embarrassment) and had to try again. On the second leap, she succeeded. With a look of satisfaction, she hurried back over to us and scrambled up the side of the dresser.
"There!" she said triumphantly. "That's better!"
A thought suddenly struck me as I remembered our last Christmas. "Let's sing some Christmas carols!" I suggested.
Everyone thought this was a great idea. We took turns choosing songs. Hailey started us off, as she was the best singer among us. I could sing, but I was very uncomfortable being responsible for leading everyone else!
Maggie, Mary and Maddy all snuggled close as we sang "Silent Night" (Mary's song choice). It was fun seeing my gruff friend being so sweet with her sisters. Finding out she had siblings had taken some getting used to, but I think she was actually enjoying it now that the shock had worn off. Maggie suggested "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", and Maddy requested "O Come All Ye Faithful".
Rachel chose "What Child is This?", so we sang that next. I love that carol! I'm so glad it was chosen.
Hailey chose "Angels We Have Heard on High", as I knew she would. She loves singing the "Glorias" in the chorus. It warmed my heart to see Lucy and Hailey snuggled up next to each other. Throughout the whole weekend, Hailey had been really sweet with Lucy. I think she missed being an older sister. And Lucy was so adorable, it was hard not to be enamored with her. :)
After Lucy chose "Away in a Manger", Katie chose "Joy to the World". I loved hearing my cousin's strong voice on this song. It wasn't necessarily the prettiest voice in the world, but she had a good ear for harmony and added a lot to our singing by bringing another part to our simple soprano notes.
I was the last one to choose a carol. I really wanted to say "Gesu Bambino", but that wasn't technically a Christmas carol. I wasn't sure that everyone knew the words. Then I thought of two of my other favorites: "In a Cave" and "O Holy Night". After some deliberation, I decided against those two as well. "In a Cave" was not very well known, and Maggie would complain about "O Holy Night" because it went so high. I finally settled for "O Little Town of Bethlehem".
As we sang, just like last year, I found my mind wandering back to the first Christmas and what it must have been like. How wonderful it must have been to be a part of the very first Christmas!
By the time we finished singing, it was almost midnight, and we were all starting to drop off, one by one. Maggie and her sisters slept right were they were at., and Rachel did too.
Lucy snuggled up next to Hailey in her bed...
...while Katie made herself comfortable between the beds.
I didn't want to go to sleep, but I finally gave in and snuggled under my covers. I couldn't wait until Christmas morning!
Lucy was the first one up. She checked the clock to make sure it was late enough. When she saw it was 6:30 in the morning, she grinned from ear to ear.
"Wake up, everybody! It's Christmas!" she shouted excitedly.
I think I jumped about a foot! I'm not used to waking up to loud noises. Katie sat up before she was really awake.
On the other side of the room, Maggie and her sisters bolted upright with a start. Apparently I wasn't the only one startled by Lucy's sudden announcement.
Rachel was a bit calmer as she woke up. Maybe she was used to sudden noises from being around Maggie! ;)
Hailey gave Lucy a hug from behind. "Merry Christmas, Lucy," she said happily.
Lucy leaned her head back on Hailey's shoulder. "Merry Christmas!" she beamed.
As was the tradition, we started with our stockings, which Mama had filled and left for us. Thankfully, she still had Lucy and Katie's stockings from last year. Mary got to use a spare Snow White stocking, and Maddy used Maggie's old stocking from last year.
We were all excited to uncover the goodies waiting for us inside.
Each of us got two chocolate kisses, one mint truffle kiss, and a little Christmas bottle full of bubbles!
It didn't take us long to open our stockings, so we decided to go straight to opening presents before having breakfast. :)
I passed the presents out to everyone, and we took turns opening them.
Maggie went first. Mama gave her a plastic A&W mug. Maggie decided she'd use it for her A&W Cream Soda the next time she had some.
I was really excited to see her open her next gift. Rachel, Mama and I had all pitched in to get it for her, because we knew it was something she really wanted. She ripped open the paper and found...
"My Iron Man action figure!" Maggie shrieked. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!"
She instantly got him all set up and grinned over at us. "What do you think?"
Rachel grinned back. "I think he's gonna look awesome next to Thor!" Rachel was the other Marvel fan, so it was fun that she and Maggie got to stay in the same room. I thought Iron Man was a bit creepy-looking, personally. He definitely wouldn't fit with my doilies and tea sets!
It was Mary's turn next. She opened her package from Maggie and found a cute Littlest Pet Shop Teensies set. Emma had told me about these after Mama had her pose with them for a blog post.
They were absolutely adorable, and Mary seemed really happy with them. :)
Maddy's turn was next. She let out a cry of delight when she found her very own Fancy Nancy doll underneath all of the pretty wrapping paper.
"Thank you, Maggie!" she said sweetly. "It's what I've always wanted! I love her stories."
Maggie grinned and gave her littlest sister a big hug.
My turn came after Maddy's. I had two gifts. First was this exquisite music box from Hailey, Katie, Lucy and Mama:
It was so beautiful! I loved the cameo of the two children on the top of it. I wound the key underneath, and it started playing a lovely rendition of "Butterfly Kisses". I thanked my cousins and my sisters for their thoughtfulness.
My next gift was from Maggie and Emma.
I gasped when I opened it. Two beautiful little breakable cottages sat in the box. "How perfect!" I said.
Maggie beamed over at me. "Emma and I thought you would like them. They go great with your figurines. Emma also pointed out that they look a little Jane Austen-ish."
Rachel was next. First, she opened her gift from Maggie. "Oh, cool!" she said excitedly. "Marvel Squinkies!"
She held one out for all of us to see. It was Captain America, looking like he'd gained a few pounds over the holidays. ;)
Captain America was Rachel's second favorite Marvel hero after Thor, so Maggie had chosen well.
Maggie had also found a Spiderman Squinkie and "The Thing" from the Fantastic 4 (and no, I didn't know these names...I had to ask Rachel first). :}
Rachel's next gift was signed "From: Mama". Full of curiosity she opened it.
"Oh, wow!" she exclaimed. "Look, everybody! Mama got me my very own Kermit necklace!"
She held it up for all of us to see. It was the perfect choice for her. Rachel loves the Muppets (especially "The Muppet's Christmas Carol" and "The Muppet's Treasure Island"), and her favorite character is Kermit.
Without a moment of hesitation, she put her necklace on (with some help from Hailey). It looked really nice against her black top. It's not the type of jewelry I prefer (I'm into dressier jewelry, myself), but it was a good choice for her. :)
Next, Katie opened her gift from Hailey and me. I really hoped she would like it.
I shouldn't have worried. She loved it! "Aww, she's so adorable!" Katie crooned. "Thanks, Tess and Hailey!"
I was really glad that she was still into teddy bears. This one was perfect because it was small enough to take with her on her travels. :)
I loved the fact that she was dressed up in a fancy dress and had a golden rose next to one ear.
When Lucy opened her gift from us, she laughed happily. I was glad she liked the doll we'd found for her. It was actually a Christmas ornament for humans, but we thought she'd enjoy using it as a doll.
Her favorite part (and mine too!) was the cute little doll that fit in the doll's pocket. It could also be used as a mini ornament...or a regular-sized ornament for us. ;)
Hailey was the last one to open her gifts. She was really excited to find one from Charlie. She'd been a bit disappointed that she wasn't going to spend Christmas with her best friend. Having a gift from Charlie helped her remember that Charlie was thinking of her, even if they couldn't be together for Christmas.
"Yay!!" she yelled when she opened her gift. "Hello Kitty Squinkies!! I've been wanting these!"
"Which ones did you get?" I asked her, hiding a smile. I knew more were on their way.
"Mama and Papa Kitty!" she replied, holding them out for all of us to see.
"You'd better open your other present," I hinted.
Hailey grinned at me. "Okay." She touched the bag with her fingers. "I'm totally keeping this bag!" she said, admiring the cute Hello Kitty printed on the side.
"Wow!!" she gasped. "Look, it's a Hello Kitty office set!"
I smiled. I knew she'd love the gift Katie, Lucy and I had picked out for her.
It was a great set, especially for someone like Hailey, who loved crafts and scrapbooking. The set came with a stapler, staples, scotch tape, and a hole puncher, all perfectly doll-sized.
"I can't wait to try this stuff out!" Hailey said excitedly.
"There's more in the bag," Katie informed her.
Hailey reached in again and squealed with delight when she pulled out two more Squinkies: Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel.
"Just the ones I wanted!' she cried. "Thank you so much!!" She gave all three of us big thank you hugs.
All the presents had now been opened, and by this time we were all starving!! We cleaned things up as best as we could and then headed out to the kitchen for our breakfast. We'd promised Mama we wouldn't use the stove while she was away, so we stuck to our traditional Christmas morning breakfast: cold cereal.
Knowing that we were going to be eating in the kitchen, Mama set up a little "table" for us, made out of a copy paper box.
She even decorated our table with a candle, a cute little snowman playing an accordion, and a blue washrag with a snowman on it for extra Christmas cheer. We thought about lighting the candle, but then decided that Mama probably would not want us using matches, either.
Mama was kind enough to leave the cereal on the floor for us, so we didn't have to climb up to the cupboards like last year. Our choices were Rice Chex, Corn Chex, and Cheerios.
I'd forgotten how difficult it was to pour the cereal into our little bowls! It was definitely a team effort!
Meanwhile, Maggie and Rachel were in charge of getting the milk. For obvious reasons, Mama couldn't leave that out for us (unless we wanted sour, lukewarm milk for our cereal!), so we were on our own for that part!
After deliberating for a while on the best method for getting the milk down, the two of them opened the refrigerator door, shoved a stool over next to the open fridge, and climbed up.
"Of course, it would be a gallon-sized jug this time," Maggie grumbled. "What happened to having a nice little half gallon like last year?"
"Just...hurry...up!" Rachel panted.
"Okay, okay," Maggie responded. "This is not going to end well, though."
Maggie managed to get the milk off of the shelf, but it was too heavy for her. With a loud splat, she and the milk tumbled down to the floor below!
"Maggie!" Rachel gasped. "Are you all right?"
"I told you this wouldn't end well," Maggie groaned. "I'm fine, aside from a splitting headache. At least the milk didn't spill."
I won't torture you with our numerous attempts at pouring our milk without spillage. All you need to know is that after we'd mopped up the floor and the table and ourselves several times, the milk was all poured. We put the milk back in the fridge with some difficulty, and Maggie announced that anyone who asked for seconds could spend Christmas outside with the neighborhood cats.
We shoved the cereal containers to the side and all gathered around our makeshift table to say grace and enjoy our meal. All of us stood, because then the table was just the right height that way. We had to find a Kleenex box for Lucy to stand on, though. ;)
When we'd finished our breakfast, we headed back to our room. In keeping with last year's tradition, we decided it would be great to read the Christmas story. I was thrilled when Maggie asked if I would be interested in reading it this year.
Everyone got settled around the tree, and I read about the first Christmas in Luke and Matthew. As I read, I stole glances at my friends and family around me. Everyone sat happily together, full of joy and peace.
I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Belle, Robby, Eugene, Rapunzel, and the babies had gathered on Mama's bed to listen as well. I'm not sure where Ben was. Something caught my eye, and I glanced over at them. Belle and Robby were holding hands! They both had huge smiles on their faces. Belle seemed to glow. I smiled and went back to my reading.
As I finished the last verse, part of an old saying popped into my head. It fit the feelings of the day perfectly.
"God's in His Heaven, all's right with the world."
I hope and pray that your homes felt the same way this Christmas. :)