Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Our Favorite Christmas Gifts by Marion Ekholm and Patricia Forsythe


Marion: When I was probably around five, I received the best gift ever. It was a composition doll with painted hair, eyes that opened when she sat and closed when she lay flat. Her limbs were hard but the huggable body was stuffed cloth. I called her Claire Louise and vowed to love and take care of her forever.

Claire Louise with repaired body.

The following Christmas, Santa brought clothes for Claire Louise: a red and white checked nightgown to sleep in, a plaid wool skirt and white blouse for dress-up, and a blue velvet coat and hat with white fur trim to protect her from the cold. I was enchanted and wore out her cloth body dressing her. Fortunately, my mother played nurse and repaired the damage. I eventually repaired her as well but not with the same skill. I didn’t know at the time those special clothes were made by my mother, who had spent hours at the task whenever I slept. My parents sacrificed for me and my brother, and it wasn’t until I had a family of my own that I realized how much. 
Resting with her garments.
 

I keep Claire Louise in my treasure trunk with her few remaining clothes. She’s still just as huggable even though her eyes no longer function. But Claire Louise and her clothes will always be my favorite Christmas gift - an expression of love and sacrifice that represents the true meaning of Christmas for me.


 
 
Patricia: By the time we reach a certain age in life, we have experienced many Christmases, and many Christmas gifts, from the baby dolls and bicycles of our childhood, to the not-quite-so-welcome mixing bowls from our spouse, to – I’m not kidding about this – a pair of orthopedic slippers.  We reach a point where there’s absolutely nothing else we need. 
While I’ve always enjoyed receiving a thoughtful gift, what I really love is giving them, not out of obligation, but to see the joy on the face of a loved one when the gift is opened.  It’s fun to shop for exactly the right thing while anticipating the recipient’s delight in it.  Even more fun, is making gifts.  Over the years, I’ve sewn clothing and made dolls and other toys, embroidered crewel embroidery pictures, and made blankets.  As far as I know, these were all appreciated and I love knowing they were gifts I’d made.
This year, I’ve decided to try regifting a few things.  I don’t plan to give away items I’ve received that I simply don’t like or need, but giving things that I made for relatives who have passed on.  The gifts were returned to me by family members and I intend to give them to my children or grandchildren.  I see it as a way of continuing the life of the item itself as well as the love behind it. 
Now all I have to do is locate them in this house where I have more things, and hiding places, than I need.

This is my first blog entry with the Harlequin Heartwarming authors and I'm so glad to be here. My first Heartwarming novel will be out in June 2015 and the title is Her Lone Cowboy. Please visit me at my website www.patriciaforsythebooks.com.

18 comments:

  1. I love these stories. How cool that you still have Claire Louise, Marion! And what a good idea it is to "regift" those things that have been made with such love, Patricia.

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    1. All my other dolls, pre Claire Louise, lost limbs and often heads. I vowed that Claire Louise would last forever and she has. I'm a regifter as well. Hate collecting things that would be better suited for someone else.

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  2. Awwww! Those are such sweet memories!

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    1. They are and placing them in our blog keeps them with us forever.

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  3. Love this post, Marion and Patricia! I had two dolls that I treated like real babies (Baby Chrissy...you could make her hair/pony tail grow...and Baby Tender Love...you could feed, change diapers, wash etc...and later on they made her a baby brother, who I got as well). Any gift that was meant for them (like bottles, clothes etc...) were my favorites.

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    1. Eventually, I had Betsy Wetsy and several others, but none that I loved as much as Claire Louise.

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  4. Marion, I'm so impressed that you kept the doll. My mother, too, sewed beautiful things for my many dolls that are long gone. I did pass a few stuffed animals down to my 2 girls. One poor bear called Bear-Bear had multiple surgeries. Patti, I know your family will love the gifts, because they were made with talent and love.

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    1. I now have stuffed animals. A stuffed cat sits on my couch and a rabbit in my children's rocker. My granddaughters love to play with them and I have to control myself when I see especially cute and soft ones so I don't buy more.

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  5. I wish I'd kept some of my dolls, but I used to have a bad habit of getting rid of things willy-nilly and not considering that they might be more precious to me in the future -- and keeping things I never used. I think I've learned a few things since then.

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    1. My daughter took over several of my other dolls when she was young and my granddaughters collect Barbies. Their other grandmother has an extensive doll collection, way beyond mine.

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  6. Welcome, Patricia. Glad you're joining us. And Marion, I'm so impressed you still have your doll. Me, I think I asked for a doll one time--I was more of a cap pistol and cowboy boots type girl. I was the fastest draw on the block. lol.

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    1. Patti and I worked well together in creating this blog. She's a welcome addition.

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  7. As a life-long doll collector, I LOVE your story, Marion. :) I still have my great-grandmother's porcelain dolls--can't bear to part with them. Along those lines, I think my favorite Xmas gift was the year my mom bought me the Barbie Dream House (about 30+ years ago)--not because it was so cool, but looking back on it, and knowing she had a horrible migraine while she was assembling it but pushed through so I could play with it that day...meant the world to me.

    Patricia--welcome! A cozy pair of slippers sounds positively lovely (orthopedic and all).

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    1. I never had a Barbie, but I loved making clothes for my neighbor's Barbie, and I made a whole collection for a church’s bazaar. At that time I liked sewing more than playing with dolls.

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  8. Marion - my favorite doll looked a lot like yours. Her name was Claudia. My mother was a seamstress and often made us matching outfits. I believe she and her wardrobe went to a firemen's toy drive when I was my teens. Welcome, Patricia! I can never find anything, either. Especially those things I put in a special place. We've been distributing Ron's father's etchings and Ron's paintings to the kids and grandkids. Fun to think about all that special stuff.

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    1. I was a little hurt when dolls came out with real hair, but I remained loyal to Claire Louise.

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  9. Love the post! I still have my "Pooh Bear" which isn't really old. Does anyone remember "Pebbles" from the old cartoon, "The Flintstones?" I was about four or five when the "Pebbles" doll was a big deal. Not only do I still have her, but when her dress became all torn and tattered, I bought her a toddler dress from Target. She looks adorable in it. Thanks for the post, Marion and Patricia, and Happy Holidays!

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    1. I remember Pebbles, but not the doll. It must have been a good size to fit in a toddler's outfit. I bought many Pooh Bears for friends and my granddaughters. It's one of my favorites.

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