Seeing our confused expressions, Hayden clarified things for us. "She's talking about decorating for Christmas."
"Exactly!" Maggie agreed. "Have you seen the big tree out in the living room? It's perfect! I think it's high time we decorated in here, too."
Hailey and I got up from her bed and joined the others.
"I think that's a great idea!" Hailey said enthusiastically.
"We'll have to ask Mama for help, though," I said cautiously. "We can't move all of this furniture by ourselves, and she's the one who knows where the tree and all of our decorations are."
Maggie waved a hand at me as if this detail didn't matter. "No problem," she said. "I'll go talk to Mama right now!"
"Just remember that Mama has been really busy," I suggested timidly. "We don't want to bother her."
"She won't be bothered. I heard her mentioning just the other day how she needed to get our Christmas things out for us," Maggie assured me.
Her statement didn't make me feel any better. I didn't want Mama feeling guilty about the fact that she hadn't gotten our decorations out yet. I knew she was still trying to put her house back together. The last thing she needed was a...well...a less than tactful request (more like demand) from Maggie. I loved my friend dearly, but she wasn't always the most sensitive doll in the world.
Emma suddenly spoke up from behind Maggie. "You know, Maggie, maybe you should stay here and discuss with Tess the best way to rearrange the room for the tree. You have a good eye for that sort of thing. I could go and talk to Mama while you do that."
Maggie glanced around our room, her eyes full of interest. I took the opportunity to mouth a thank you to Emma. She winked back at me. Emma had been on the receiving end of Maggie's sharp tongue herself, so she must have understood my unspoken concern.
"All right," Maggie agreed, looking back at Emma. "You go talk to Mama while the rest of us figure out where to put the tree."
Emma climbed down the side of the dresser and headed out to the living room with Hayden and Charlie in tow, while Rachel, Maggie, Hailey and I discussed the best way to do things.
Maggie suggested moving both of our beds to one side of the room, so that the area by the tree would be nice and open. Rachel mentioned that perhaps we could move my curio cabinet to one end of the dresser instead of having it in the middle. We realized right off that we'd have to make do with one less dresser or shelf, so Hailey and I decided which ones we really wanted by our beds. It was decided that the black dresser would go back to Maggie and Rachel's room, where it had been before.
By the time the Hathaway girls came back with Mama, we had a very clear idea of what we wanted for our room, so it was very easy for Mama to switch things around for us. Emma must have worked her magic and asked Mama in a non-threatening way, because Mama was very glad to help. After rearranging everything, putting the tree in place, and setting out the box of decorations for us to go through, Mama left us to our own devices.
"I think we should start by putting the lights on the tree," Maggie said firmly. "It will look much better in here with pretty Christmas lights."
We all agreed this was a good place to start. I just hoped that all of Maggie's ideas would be as good as her first. Maggie loved being in charge, but sometimes she forgot that part of being a good leader was getting ideas from others.
Getting the lights on the tree took a lot longer than I thought it would. There were a lot of lights, and the tree was pretty thick. We decided it would be easiest if just Maggie, Hailey and I did this part. I felt kind of bad leaving everyone else out, but I also didn't want all of us to end up tangled in the Christmas lights! And at least everyone would get to decorate their own rooms.
The tree was starting to look much better.
"This is one of my favorite parts of Christmas," I said to Maggie.
"What do you mean?" she asked, stringing another strand of lights on a nearby branch.
"Putting the lights on the tree," I explained shyly. "I love how just a few twinkling lights can transform a drab little tree into a thing of beauty."
Maggie smiled as she continued her work.
"It...it kind of reminds me of what Mama was talking about the other day," I continued hesitantly. "She talked about how when we've asked Jesus into our hearts, and ask the Holy Spirit to give us the grace to live in a way that pleases the Lord, the character of Christ can shine through us, making our lives a beautiful testimony for God's glory." I hoped my analogy made as much sense out loud as it had in my head.
Maggie looked thoughtful.
"It's kinda like that verse!" Hailey, who had been listening in, joined in our conversation. "You know, Matthew 5:16? Mama said it's one of her favorite verses. 'Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.' "
I smiled back at my little sister. At least my analogy had made sense to her.
Maggie was still pensive as she handed the strand of lights back to me. I continued stringing them through the branches on my side of the tree. "I guess I don't always do a good job of asking God to do things through me," she admitted. "Most of the time I just charge on ahead, doing things my own way." She frowned. "I suppose my life isn't always the greatest reflection of Christ."
She looked up at me. "That's something I really appreciate about you, Tess," she said seriously. "You're always so patient and kind with others. It makes me pretty ashamed of myself."
Was I imagining things, or was my friend blushing? Poor Maggie!
"I make just as many mistakes as you!" I assured her. "I'm just too timid to make the same types of mistakes. I'm just as guilty as you are of doing things my own way without letting God be in charge of my day."
Maggie gave me an appreciative smile.
At that moment, Emma called out from behind us, "Are you guys almost done?"
I handed the last part of the strand back to Maggie. "Just about!" I called back to her with a grin.
Maggie finished the last little bit and stood up triumphantly. "Done!" she shouted.
Everyone cheered. The tree was so lovely now that it had all of the lights on.
Hailey suddenly laughed. "Whoa, look at all of the glitter on the dresser!!"
Maggie and I looked down at our feet. It looked like someone had sprinkled coarse sugar all over the dresser.
"Oops," Maggie said. "I forgot the tree had glitter on it."
I shook my head. "Papa will not be thrilled. He won't even kiss Mama if she's wearing her glittery lipstick."
"Well, if you think he's not gonna like that, just wait until he sees his side of the bed," Charlie said. "I think Mama forgot the tree was glittery, too. She put the tree on the bed while she was rearranging things. I can see the glitter from over here."
Maggie snorted with laughter. "Poor Papa. I bet his UPS buddies will get a kick out of his glittery hair tomorrow morning."
It was time to get to the rest of the decorations. We all decided (at Maggie's suggestion, of course) that one of us should go through the box and help divide all of the decorations. We wanted to make sure that each doll room had some touches of holiday cheer.
Not surprisingly, Maggie was the one who distributed the decorations. To her credit, though, she waited for someone else to suggest that she do it instead of automatically taking over. Maybe our talk had touched her more than I thought!
Rachel thought that the pretty, sparkly green wreath would look great in her and Maggie's room.
Maggie handed it over with only the slightest hint of a sigh. She's got almost as much aversion to glitter as Papa...at least when it's in her own room!
Charlie and her sisters really liked the little mini fiber optic tree. "We can put it up on top of our closet!" Charlie said excitedly.
"Mama told me she just put new batteries in it, too," I told Charlie. "So it should work perfectly."
Next, Maggie uncovered a big Nativity scene.
"Oh, how cute!" Emma said. "Could we use this, too?"
"It's fine with me as long as Tess and Hailey are okay with it," Maggie said. "Rachel and I don't really have a place for it."
Hailey and I didn't need it, so Emma took it for her room.
"Let's see," Maggie said, continuing to dig through the box. "It looks like this is a tree skirt."
"Oh, Mama told me about that!" I said happily. "She got that for us to put around the tree. Could you help me put it on?"
It was a little bit tricky getting it all the way around the tree, but I managed to do it with Maggie's help.
"So now we're basically down to the stockings and a few more random boxes," Maggie concluded, sitting down beside the box.
I sat down on the other side. "This should be fun," I said excitedly. "Mama found us new stockings at the after Christmas sales last year...and I think she found a couple new ones in this year's Christmas sales, too!"
It was easy to guess who the first stocking belonged to. Of course, a stocking with Woody and Buzz on it had to belong to our resident Pixar fan! ;)
"Well, here's mine," Maggie said, lifting up an aquamarine and green stocking. "I could live without the pink sequined 'M' on the front, but I suppose it does make it pretty obvious who it belongs to that way."
"At least the stocking itself is just right," I encouraged her. "I'm sure Mama was thinking of the colors of the stocking, not the sequins."
"I think this one's mine," I continued, holding up a navy blue stocking with a snowman on the front. "Mama told me ahead of time that mine had a snowman on it. He's so cute and soft!"
"This one's gotta be your sister's," Maggie said, pulling up the next stocking. "Here, Hailey."
Hailey came over and took the stocking from Maggie's outstretched hand. "It's perfect!!" she squealed. "I never thought Mama would be able to find me a Hello Kitty stocking!!"
"You know," Maggie said suddenly, "I think I'm going to leave you two to the rest of this. I'm pretty sure Rachel's already decorating our room, and I don't want to miss out. I'll take everyone else their stockings, okay?"
Hailey and I nodded. Maggie gathered up the remaining stockings and fearlessly leaped off of the dresser (thankfully landing on her feet and not her head!).
Hailey and I looked through the last of the remaining items in the decoration box. I started with a little blue box.
"Look, Hailey!" I gasped. "It's the little bitty Nativity scene that Mama gave us last Christmas, remember?"
There were all of the figures, just like we remembered them. Instantly, memories from last Christmas flooded over me. And of course, I couldn't help thinking of my littlest sister, Ella. She had been with us last Christmas. In fact, it had been the three of us, Ella, Hailey and I, who had decorated the tree last time.
I glanced over at my sister and could tell she was thinking the same thing. She looked up at me bravely. "I'm sure Ella's having a great Christmas with her new family."
I smiled at her sympathetically and nodded. It had definitely been easier thinking about our sister since we'd been corresponding via email. It was great knowing that she was okay and enjoying her new life, although we'd always miss having her with us.
We decided to set the little Nativity up on top of my curio cabinet. They looked really cute up there.
Imagine our surprise when the next box we opened up contained another Nativity scene!
"Oh!" I breathed. "How lovely!"
The figures were all made out of white glazed porcelain. The set had Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, and 3 Wise Men.
We put Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus underneath the Christmas tree. They looked just perfect there!
We put the Wise Men a little ways off, next to the curio cabinet. Why, you may ask? Well, last Christmas, Mama told us that many Biblical scholars believe that the Wise Men did not come to the manger at all. In fact, it's possible that they didn't come see Baby Jesus until he was about 2 years old.
[Side note for those of you interested in random Bible trivia: the main Bible passages that address this view are Matthew 2:11 ( "After coming into the house"...not "the stable") and Matthew 2:16 ( "[Herod] slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.").] Ever since Mama told us that, I've had a hard time putting the Wise Men with the rest of the Nativity scene. :}
By the way, sorry if I went into the Wise Men thing last year...I didn't have a chance to check back on that post before I wrote this one. So forgive me if I've been redundant. :}
Once we'd put up the new Nativity scene, we got to work decorating the rest of our room. Here are some shots of the end results:
We hung our stockings on Mama's drapes, just like last year.
I just love this festive wreath! It looked perfect on the front of my curio cabinet.
We always put out our copy of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. It's one of our favorite Christmas stories!
Mama had 4 of these cute little snowmen. We used two in our room and then sent the other two to our friends. :)
This little snowman looks quite cozy next to my pictures and Holly Wildwood, my Sylvanian Family rabbit. :)
We weren't the only ones busy decorating. Across the room, Maggie and Rachel were making their room "merry and bright". Oh, and you'll probably notice that they have a new room! That was one of the results of all of Mama and Papa's rearranging. Their old room now is a home for Mama and Papa's desktop computer (that is still not working, by the way). This room is the old entertainment center that used to hold the TV in the living room.
Rachel put up the sparkly green wreath...
...while Maggie hung her stocking on her side of the room.
I thought Rachel's stocking was really cute, too. It was similar to mine, with a big snowman on the front. Rachel hung hers on her side of the room, exactly opposite from Maggie's.
Their room looked really nice with all of the decorations in place:
Meanwhile, Emma, Hayden and Charlie were putting the finishing touches on their room.
Emma and Hayden hung up the stockings...
...while Charlie set up the tree and the Nativity scene.
They'd had to completely rearrange their room because of the big gap behind Rachel and Maggie's new room. Hayden was afraid she'd fall off of her bed and land behind the entertainment center in the middle of the night. Since Emma and Charlie's bed was a little more secure and had sides to keep them in place, they decided to move their bunk bed to that side of the room. I think the new look is great. And of course, everything looked even better now that the decorations were up. :)
Emma had the third snowman stocking, and Hayden's was the Belle one (just in case you're curious). ;)
Once all of the decorations were up, Mama came back in and pulled out all of our party dresses. She likes having us dressed up for the holidays. I was thrilled...I love wearing fancy clothes and feeling elegant and refined! As you can imagine, not everyone was quite as pleased with this turn of events. Charlie is not a huge fan of fancy dresses, but it helped a little that she got to wear Kit's Christmas dress. Since she has a Kit doll, she thought that was pretty neat. Maggie, however, was quite perturbed. Not even the lovely aquamarine shade of her dress could reconcile her to the fact that it was super fancy!
We all posed for pictures after we'd changed (some of us more grudgingly than others). One thing Mama realized during this photo shoot was how desperately we need some tights or socks and a few more pairs of dress shoes. You might notice from the photos that our choices of footwear are somewhat eclectic, to say the least.
We did manage to convince Charlie to wear something other than her cowgirl boots. Personally, I think her dress would have looked even better with some lovely patent leather Mary Janes (I'd love some too, if I do say so myself). :)
Anyway, I think the pictures turned out really nicely.
Charlie was a good sport. She was really missing her cowgirl boots. I don't know that she'll be able to last the whole month in those little silver shoes. I'm guessing she'll try to sneak her boots back on before the month is out. ;)
Emma was a bit disappointed with how her curls turned out. They were not wanting to cooperate with Mama today. I think they looked really nice, though. She wore a little green ribbon in her hair that added the perfect touch.
Hayden was just excited to finally get to wear a fancy dress! It's her first time wearing one since she moved here. I think that plaid looks wonderful on her, don't you? The red really brings out her coloring, and the green complements the color of her eyes.
Three pretty sisters. :)
Don't Rachel and Maggie look beautiful? I love Maggie's new hairstyle! Mama never did glue Maggie's wig down, so she thought it would be fun to try a side part. Maggie didn't really care one way or the other (she's never really been big on hairstyles, and thankfully her hair is very low maintenance...so she's never really had to).
Oh, and another fun thing. How do you like Rachel's dress? Want to know a secret? It's really a Build-a-Bear dress. Mama helped her into it and then secured it in the back with masking tape so it would fit her correctly. It's just a temporary fix...Mama's concerned that the tape might leave a residue on the dress if she leaves it on for too long. She's hoping that Papa's mother might be able to help her alter it so that we could wear it without masking tape. ;) It still looks nice on Rachel, though.
Two lovely ladies. :)
And here are Hailey and I. I just love how cheerful and bright our room looks with the Christmas tree lights shining and all of our decorations up.
And of course, I absolutely adore my dress! It's so fun to be able to match my special Samantha doll. :)
Hailey looks really pretty, too. White is a good color for her.
My sweet sister and I. :)
Here's the whole group, out by Mama and Papa's big Christmas tree.
Poor Charlie was really embarrassed when she saw this photo. I'm not really sure what she was looking at, but something must have distracted her. I assured her that Mama would probably take many more Christmas photos, so she didn't need to worry. I kind of feel bad that we used it in our header, but maybe we can get a better group photo up soon. :)
Wow, sorry this ended up being such a huge post! Thanks for taking the time to read all of it. :) I've got to go for now...I have presents to wrap and a Christmas playlist on Rhapsody just waiting for me! :D
P.S. Do you like our new Christmas playlist? We all had so much fun putting it together! Aside from "Pas de Deux", which is of course my favorite, I LOVE "Gesu Bambino" with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and David Archuleta. What a voice! I almost cried at the beauty of the arrangement and the combination of the full choir and those strong tenor notes. Maggie thinks I'm silly, but beautiful music always moves me like that.
We'd never heard of David before. Mama looked him up and said she thinks he was on American Idol or something like that. We haven't watched American Idol, so we don't know much about the guy, but I do like his voice! :)
Okay, now I'm really done...I promise. :}