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Advent: Two Wishes from a Christmas Doll

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 11, 2010

From the Children’s Friend, December 1946 –

Two Wishes from a Christmas Doll

By S.N. Wernick

On Christmas Eve the snow was falling in large flakes. It fell from the clouds over the city and covered all the streets with its soft, white blanket

Especially on one street in the city, the snow covered the whole sidewalk. it covered all the signs over the stores. And, wherever the snow fell, it was cold.

In front of Mr. Jonas’ toy store it was very, very cold, because the snow was piled up high.

But inside the store, it was warm and bright and all the toys were painted in beautiful colors.

There were red sleds for sliding down hills on the snow. there were doll houses with real windows that went up and down. there were tops and wagons and bicycles and a whole shelf of dolls. Dolls of every size and shape, all dressed in pretty clothes.

Mr. Jonas, who was a nice old man, and his wife, who was just as nice, owned the toy shop. They were standing behind the counter now, looking out through the big front window.

“Do you see what I see?” Mr. Jonas asked his wife.

“I see two red noses pushing against the window pane,” said Mrs. Jonas. “And two little children looking in the window.”

One red nose belonged to Richard. He was six and had red hair and a tooth missing in front and a nice warm smile. He even had freckles all over his face.

The other nose, which was just as red, belonged to his sister, Martha. She was four. Martha had blonde curls that came down to her shoulder, and blue eyes and little white teeth that shone like stars when she smiled.

But she wasn’t smiling now, because she was so cold. That’s why her nose was so red.

“They must be awfully cold,” said Mr. Jonas. “Why don’t they come inside and get warm?”

And just as he said that, the two little red noses which were pushed against the window disappeared. In less than a minute the two children came in the toy shop.

They seemed to be frightened as they stood just inside the door. They weren’t dressed very well. The clothes they had on were worn and old and didn’t keep Richard and Martha very warm.

“Hello,” said Mr. Jonas, with a smile.

“Hello,” said his wife to Richard and Martha. She smiled, too.

Richard smiled back at them, but Martha hid behind Richard and held on to his hand tightly.

‘Isn’t it late for two little children like you to be out?” asked Mr. Jonas.

“I’m not a little child,” answered Richard. “I’m six. and I take care of my sister.”

“Of course he’s not little,” said Mrs. Jonas. “Look how tall he is!”

Martha let go of Richard’s hand. She went over to look at the whole shelf full of dolls. She started at one end and looked at the dolls there. And she went to the middle and looked at the dolls there. She went to the end of the shelf and looked at those dolls, too. And all of the dolls were the most beautiful in the world.

Martha’s eyes got bigger and bigger. She looked at the dolls and she wanted to have them all, but Richard had told her that she could have only one, so she took a long time to make up her mind which doll she would pick.

Mr. Jonas watched her looking at the dolls. Mrs. Jonas watched, too, but Mrs. Jonas didn’t want a doll. She wanted a little girl like Martha, with blonde curls and blue eyes. She didn’t have any children of her own. She and Mr. Jonas lived all by themselves.

Richard didn’t say anything. He watched his sister look at the dolls for a long time. Then, Martha turned around and said to Richard, “I want this one, Richard. I like it best of all.”

Mr. Jonas went over and took the doll out of the box and looked at the price tag on it. The doll cost ten dollars.

“Is this enough?” asked Richard, holding out his hand. It was full of pennies.

Mr. Jonas helped Richard count the pennies. There were twenty-four pennies. He shook his head.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “but it’s not enough.”

Richard was very sad. He wanted to buy the doll for his sister. Martha looked as if she were going to cry. Then she remembered that Richard said they weren’t supposed to cry now, so she didn’t. It was hard not to cry, but she held back her tears.

“Can we look around?” asked Richard. Mr. Jonas smiled at them, and said to Richard, “Why, yes, look around all you want. Don’t you want anything?”

Richard shook his head.

‘No,” he said. “I just want to buy a doll for my sister.”

Martha took Richard’s hand and the two of them wandered around the toy store.

Pretty soon, a lot of customers came in the shop to buy toys and Mr. Jonas forgot about Richard and Martha. And Mrs. Jonas forgot, too.

It got later and later, and it was real dark by then. Pretty soon all the customers had bought all the toys they wanted and went away. No one was left in the toy shop except Mr. Jonas and his wife.

They looked around for Richard and Martha but they couldn’t see them anywhere.

“They must have gone out when we weren’t looking,” said Mrs. Jonas.

“They were such nice little children,” said Mr. Jonas. “I hope they come back again tomorrow. No one bought the doll the little girl wanted and if she comes in again I’d like to give it to her as a Christmas present.”

“I liked them both,” said Mrs. Jonas. “I’d like a boy and a girl like that for my own.”

But it was late, so they turned out all the lights except one little one. Then they p ut on their overcoats and rubbers. They went outside. Mr. Jonas locked the door and they went home.

But Richard and Martha hadn’t left. They were still inside the store. They had wandered in back of the shop. Martha was so tired and sleepy that she lay down in a big cardboard box and fell asleep with Richard beside her.

Pretty soon he fell asleep, too, and that’s where they were when Mr. Jonas turned out the lights and locked the front door to the toy shop.

Midnight is the hour on Christmas Eve when all the fairies come to life. Midnight is when all the dolls dance and tops spin. The bicycles roll around the toy shop and never bump into one another.

And the doll that Martha liked so much came to life just like the other dolls. She rubbed her eyes and got to her feet. She walked over to the box in the back of the shop where Richard and Martha were sleeping.

‘Hello,” she said in her sweet, tiny voice. But they didn’t hear her. Richard was asleep. Martha was asleep.

The doll hopped down into the box. She tickled Martha under the chin until Martha awoke.

“Hello, Martha,” said the doll.

Martha opened her eyes.

“Hello, doll,” she answered. “I didn’t know you could talk.”

“Oh, yes,” said the doll. Every Christmas Eve at midnight we are allowed to talk and to dance. Who is this?” She pointed at Richard.

“My brother,” answered Martha. His name is Richard.”

“Where do you come from?” asked the doll. “where are your father and mother? Where do you live?”

“I don’t know,” said Martha, “but Richard does. Shall I wake him up?”

The doll said, “Yes, let’s wake him,” so they tickled Richard’s nose until he woke up.

“We don’t have a father or a mother,” said Richard, when they asked him. “We’re orphans and we ran away from the orphans’ home. They were very nice to us, but we’re looking for a father and a mother like other boys and girls have. Do you know where we could find them?”

The doll shook her head.

“No,” she said, “I don’t know where you can find a father and a mother, but I can help you a little.”

‘How?” asked Martha.

“Well, I can give you each a wish that will come true.”

“I want a doll like you!” cried Martha. “A real doll for my very own.”

“Very well,” said the doll. “And what do you want, Richard?”

“I want a father and a mother,”: said Richard, “because they’re nicer even than dolls or a sled or anything else I can think of.”

“I’ll give them to you,” said the doll. “But who they’ll be, I don’t know.”

Just then the clock struck one and the doll said, “I’ve got to get back to my shelf. We only have an hour to run around. good-by.”

“Good-by!” called Martha. “Thank you, doll.”

“Good-by,” said Richard, and fell asleep again because he was very tired.

Early the next morning Mr. Jonas and his wife came back to the toy shop. Richard and Martha were already up and when Mr. Jonas and his wife came in, they stared at the children.

“We fell asleep and spent the night here,” said Richard.

“And we saw a walking doll that came over and told us we could each have one wish,” said Martha.

Mr. Jonas looked at his wife and smiled.

“Well,” he said to Martha, “what did you wish for?”

“A doll,” she answered, quickly. “The same one I saw yesterday.”

“Are you sure I don’t have enough money to pay for it?” asked Richard, holding out his pennies. “Will you count them again, please?”

So, Mr. Jonas counted Richard’s twenty-four pennies again. Then he said, “Why, I think I must have made a mistake. There are more than enough here.”

Mrs. Jonas gave the doll to Martha and Mrs. Jonas took seven pennies from Richard’s hand and rang up the money on the cash register.

Martha hugged the doll to her.

“Oh, Richard,” she cried, “you did buy me a doll!”

Mrs. Jonas had tears in her eyes, but wiped them away, slowly.

“And what did you wish for?” she asked Richard.

Richard looked at her. She was such a nice woman, he thought.

“I wished for a father and a mother to take care of Martha, because it’s too hard for me.”

Richard told Mr. Jonas and his wife how they’d run away from the orphans’ home the day before, to look for a father and a mother. Mrs. Jonas was crying. She hugged Martha to her. Even Mr. Jonas had tears in his eyes.

“And the fairy doll said I’d get my wish,” said Richard when he finished.

‘You shall, you shall,” cried Mr. Jonas.

“Oh, could we adopt them?” asked his wife, and Mr. Jonas said, “Why, certainly we can.”

Then he asked Richard, “Would you like to have us for your father and mother?”

Richard looked at Martha. Martha nodded her head, and Richard nodded his head, and everyone was happy.

In the afternoon, Mr. Jonas and his wife took Richard and Martha down to the orphans’ home in a big automobile and signed a lot of papers.

Then they left. As they drove away, Richard asked, “Are you really our father and mother now?”

“Yes,” answered Mr. Jonas. “We are, and I think I’m going to like being a father to both of you.”

Martha looked up at him. She was holding on to his arm.

“We’re going to like living with you,” she said, “even if you didn’t have a toy shop to play in.”

And for years and years, all the rest of their lives, Richard and Martha had a father and a mother just like all the other children had.

The fairy doll had made both their wishes come true.



5 Comments »

  1. The part about the bike moving around in the shop made me think of Pixar’s “Red’s Dream.”

    Comment by Coffinberry — December 11, 2010 @ 8:45 am

  2. This is my least favorite, I think, of all the stories I found. (If there’s one I like less, it was so awful that I have mercifully blanked it out of memory.) I included it here, though, as a sample of the fairy story that very often appeared in the early-mid 20th century Children’s Friend and even in lesson manuals — sort of a marker on how much our ideas have changed re what is suitable to represent the voice of the Church during the limited times the Church can capture children’s attention.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 11, 2010 @ 9:13 am

  3. Say its not so, Ardis! I admit the story has a cloying sentimentality, but I like indulging in that, especially at Christmas time which is a cornucopia of sentiment and nostalgia, for me at least.

    I understand that the issue may be slightly different for you; you may see “suitabilty” different than I. But, I remember one of the things I so loved about the Children’s Friend from my childhood—and I CAN NOT stress how much I really did love it!—was that it included material that was not strictly LDS. To clarify, it wasn’t that I like things that were non-LDS–I more or less identified myself as that at the time–but that the Friend gave me examples of things that were “different:” different culturally, historically and though I couldn’t articulate it at the time, different in terms of world view.

    I remember a Christmas issue, probably from the early 60′s, that featured a retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson tale of The Little Match Girl. It was the first time I encountered that story and it devastated me. I can still see the illustration in my mind’s eye—one of those great Children’s Friend illustrations—and I can still emotionally connect with the strong feeling it generated: that everyone should be cared for and loved, especially in this life.

    I’ve obviously lost touch with the more recent Friend, and I readily admit that my understanding of the “historical” Children’s Friend may be warped by subjective nostalgia. But I would be remiss if I didn’t put in a good word for sentimental tales of toys coming to life.

    Plus, toys do come to life. Just sayin’.

    Comment by Mina — December 11, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

  4. Almost thou dost persuade me, Mina …

    I do like the adventures and mysteries and problem-solving and exploring other cultures and the other kinds of stories from the Children’s Friend — it isn’t that I think everything has to be explicitly LDS to be suitable for the audience. I just don’t care for the fairy folk, I guess. But there was so much of it that many people must have liked it — you have plenty of company.

    I retract my nose wrinkling, replace it with a mere observation that this is quite *different* from what we’re used to in the present generation, and say Merry Christmas, I’m glad you liked it! :)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 11, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

  5. This isn’t my favorite either, but it isn’t because of the fairy folk, and it isn’t because of toys not coming to life (because of course they do). It’s more a sadness that many children, cute as buttons or maybe not, need parents like the Jonases and may never find them.

    Comment by ellen — December 12, 2010 @ 12:01 am

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