The Littlest Angel

By Marsha Tennant

The Littlest Angel

My most treasured Christmas present that Santa ever left me was a doll. I remember it as though it was yesterday, and it became one of the family stories we would tell from year to year. Those memories linked the holidays like garland wrapped around the tree. There have been funny stories as well as more serious ones, but each one holding a special place in the family oral history.

Once a year the local grocery store would sell a few of the top toys of the season. The front window ledge was the display case. Earl, the owner, enjoyed offering this service to his customers. Families appreciated that the toys could be added to their accounts and paid off by December 31st. As a child, I waited in anticipation to see what THE doll would be. Although there were several choices, the most popular one was prominently placed front and center. I knew she was the one.

She was the most beautiful doll I had ever seen. Her name was The Littlest Angel and every inch of her lived up to her name. Even the box she came in had the name written in heavenly letters. Her lips were rose red and her cheeks a soft pink. Long, braided light brown hair fell on either side of her face. She wore a beautiful pink floral dress with white shoes and socks. Several other outfits were included in the box. But it was her big blue eyes that spoke to me. The caption on the box said that they opened and closed. The other feature, which gave her the name, was the ability to bend her knees…hence the name. She was the perfect angel doll for the season.

Each week I would go to the store with my mom and brother. I would check the window to see if she was still there. The week before Christmas she was gone. My heart sank. My mother pointed out that most of the other toys were gone as well. She told me that Santa had stopped by to pick them up and begin checking the lists of the children that lived in our community. That was a very creative answer for an anxious eight year old. All I could do was wait for Christmas morning to see if my wish had been granted.

Christmas morning arrived. I was up before dawn. I don’t think I slept much the night before. I wanted The Littlest Angel more than anything I could remember. As I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and tried to focus what was under our tree, I saw her! Santa heard my request and chose me to own her. Tears fell down my cheeks as I reached for this sweet little doll. I tilted her head back and forth to see the eyes open and close. I bent her knees to the prayer-like position. She was MINE! My parents smiled and said that Santa knew I had been a good little girl that year. (Good thing Santa didn’t ask my brother…he was always fair game for sister tricks.)

The reason this doll became part of our family stories is because of the events that happened after that. I was in third grade, and the teacher allowed us to bring a favorite Christmas present for Show and Tell on the Friday after the holiday vacation. I dressed The Littlest Angel in her red and white ice skating outfit. She even wore a pair of ice skates. I knew I had one of the best dolls to show. I was full of pride and excitement. Maybe I was even somewhat cocky. I walked to the front of the classroom and began to demonstrate how her knees bent and her eyes opened and closed. I was so proud of my possession.

That’s when it happened. I walked back to my desk and sat The Littlest Angel on the edge so others could see her. One of the boys in the class ran down the row of desks and knocked my beautiful doll to the floor. It took a few seconds for it to replay in my mind. I looked down on the floor and saw her, but it didn’t register immediately. Slowly, the reality and horror began to sink in. I reached down to pick up my angel doll and heard the sound of something loose as I cradled her in my arms. Her eyes were broken. They dangled in her head like loose marbles. They were attached in one place but would no longer open and close. I don’t remember what happened in the classroom after that, or even the bus ride home. I dreaded facing my parents. My heart was broken.

When my Dad arrived home he could clearly see that I had been crying. He gently picked up The Littlest Angel and moved her head up and down. He turned her over and made a few observations. That’s when he told me to get his toolbox. He spread a few tools out on the table and began to do something to my doll’s face. He told me to go help Mom with supper and let him see what he could do. I asked about her several times before bed but my Dad would just tell me to be patient.

As I crawled into bed that night I was sad and lonely without my precious companion. She had been part of my life for several weeks. I loved her so much. That’s when my Dad walked into my bedroom with my doll tucked under his arm. Her eyes were wide open. My Dad bent down and whispered in my ear, “Her eyes will always be open so that she can watch over you.” My Dad had glued them to stay in place. That was his gift to me. I reached for her and we snuggled under the covers…The Littlest Angel watching over me.

About this writer

  • Marsha Tennant Marsha Tennant is the author of the children’s book, Margaret, Pirate Queen. She was recently published in AARP Bulletin and Mary Jane’s Farm. She and her husband retired and moved to the beach from Calabash in an attempt to downsize and spend time with their new grandson. A second Pirate Queen book is circling while porch sitting these days!

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