Monday, December 13, 2010

My Chicken Soup Christmas Story

Several weeks ago, I received my copies of this year's Christmas Chicken Soup for the Soul book. My story, "My Special Christmas Doll," is in the book. Part of the story was eliminated by the editors because they deemed it would not make the story 'Santa Safe." I understood that, but I also felt like a special part of the story was missing. So, here is the story, as I wrote it originally. The part that my mother and grandmother played is not in the book version. 

 My Special Christmas Doll

By Nancy Julien Kopp

 A special doll named Katherine lives in my four-year-old granddaughter’s room. The doll perches on the window seat, arms out and head cocked a bit. Muted red polish covers her fingernails, and a few of her fingers and toes are chipped. The doll’s dark blonde hair could use a bit of attention, for it looks limp and badly in need of a stylist.

 “This was my mommy’s doll,” Jordan tells me.

I pick up the doll, smooth the flower-print flannel gown she wears. “A long time ago, she belonged to me.”  I give Katherine a little hug and place her on the window seat again.

Jordan grasps my hand.  “I know that, Grandma. Will you tell me about her?”

I scoop Jordan into my arms. “Time for bed now, but maybe tomorrow we’ll talk about Katherine.” I tuck her into bed and kiss her twice.

Later that evening, I sip a cup of tea and think about the doll Santa brought me more than sixty years ago. The decades slip away like quicksilver, and I am six years old again. My parents and little brother are asleep, still snuggled under warm comforters, but I’m tip-toeing down the hallway early on Christmas morning. It’s so quiet and very dark in the hallway, but I know my destination and continue on.

When I reach the living room, the early morning light filters through the windows. I kneel in front of the decorated Christmas tree, and a little shiver runs up my spine. It’s cold in our apartment, but the shiver comes from what I spy next to the gaily wrapped packages. Santa left me a beautiful doll looking very much like Shirley Temple. She’s dressed in a bridal gown made of a snowy, gossamer material. Tiny satin rosettes run from waist to hem, and lace adorns the neckline and sleeves. The matching veil, trimmed in lace, surrounds her head like a billowy cloud. A white nightgown and soft blue robe lie beside her. It’s the kind seen only in the movies. So pretty! Her dark blonde hair curls to perfection, and her eyes appear to glow. I inch as close as I dare, for I know I should not touch her yet, not until Mommy and Daddy wake up. For now, the anticipation of holding her seems to be enough. I name her Katherine while I wait for my family to wake up.

Years later, I learned that my mother had made the bridal gown and night clothes for the doll in the late hours on December nights. My grandmother was the one who took
hair she’d saved from my mother’s first haircut to a specialty shop where they created a wig for my doll. Hearts and hands joined in this special gift.

I played with Katherine for many years, then saved her in hopes I might pass my special doll to a daughter someday. My daughter, Karen, loved the doll too, even though she no longer had the original clothes. Once again, Katherine made a little girl happy. Karen secreted the doll away in hopes that she, too, could pass her on to her own child someday. Now, Karen’s daughter, Jordan, is the keeper of the doll. Though a bit tattered, Katherine’s smile is just as sweet, and her blue eyes still appear to shine. Even her wilted curls are precious to me and to Karen.

I think one day Jordan will feel the same, for she is our special family doll and always will be. I will tell my granddaughter about the Christmas I found Katherine under the tree, and later, when she’s older, I will relate the part of the story about Jordan’s great-grandmother who made special clothes for Katherine, and about her great-great grandmother who saved her child’s hair to make into a wig for a doll.

This one cherished doll holds five generations of my family within her heart. Two created her, three have played with her, and all have loved her. I hope Jordan will have a daughter one day so that this chain of love might continue.



  1. akula.sharvani@gmail.comDecember 15, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    Dear Nancy... First let me introduce myself... I'm Sharvani... one among the followers... of your blog... just going through "My Special Christmas Doll" invoked my childhood memories related to my first doll gifted by my beloved sister. The line
    "heart and hands joined in this special gift" is so touching...

  2. Hi, Nancy
    Deborah Shouse, one of the directors for a Kansas City area writing group also had a story in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas Magic. Her story also was reprinted, in the FYI section of The Kansas City Star. Her story was about Christmas cookies. I haven't made it into Chicken Soup yet, but it's not from lack of trying. Peg Nichols KAC,D2

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed the story, Sharvani, and that it brought back a happy memory for you. Thank you for being a Follower and for commenting.

  4. To Anonymous--I saw that story by Deborah Shouse in this morning's KC Star. And I'd read it in the book earlier. Don't give up submitting to Chicken Soup. They get so many submissions, but you never know when one of yours might make it. Patience and perseverance are keywords in our writing world.

  5. This is another wonderful story. It actually brought back a doll memory of my own. I've written myself a note so I won't forget.