This is a re-posting from my AOL journal but as we are now in Christmas month, it seems appropriate.
Are your sitting comfortably, then I will begin.
I had not long turned six years old. I guess the reason that my Dad chose this present was that I had been badgering my parents for a baby sister. I had no way of knowing that this request was impossible as my Mum was in her forties when she had me!
Well, although my father was a "city gent" he had hobbies that he could turn his hand to, hobbies that surprised most people. For instance, it was my Dad and not my Mum who taught me to knit. My Dad was an excellent knitter. During the war he was an Ack Ack gunner and was stationed up in the Orkneys and Shetland Islands at one time. To pass the long, lonely hours when there was no action, he taught himself to knit and was a dab hand at making socks.
As he did not earn a large salary and times were very tight when I was young, he also tried his hand at woodworking and furniture upholstery. He had recently re-covered an old sofa and two large armchairs in a beautiful dark red, heavy-duty material. I loved this and the pattern it had. So, he came up with the idea of making me a present. My own little armchair to match. He must have spent long hours at it and only when I was asleep in bed because I never saw or heard anything.
I suppose he had thought that just giving me an empty chair was not much of a present. I guess that between them they came up with the idea of putting a doll in the chair.
Now, this was not any ordinary doll. It was the size of a one year old child and was dressed in proper clothes for a child of that age. I remember it well, a pale lemon dress with white net frills around the neck, hem and sleeves.
So, came Christmas morning. I always used to wake up in the early hours. This particular morning I woke when the sky was just turning to grey instead of dark blue. I woke in the gloom so to speak. Realizing it was Christmas day and I had missed Santa yet again, I eagerly rolled onto my left side (my bed was positioned so you had to get out on the left).
I froze in absolute horror. There was this face looking at me. Staring glassy eyes, arms reaching out towards me as a real child would reach out to its mother, but the worse thing was its mouth. It had bright red lips that were parted in what was supposed to be a smile and it had teeth!!!!! Upper teeth and lower teeth that gleamed white in the dim light. It seemed that it was reaching out to devour me! It was the most frightening thing I had ever seen.
I let out a scream that must have woken the neighbourhood. My parents came running. All I could say, between sobs, was "take it away, take it away". It took them some time to realize what I was talking about. They assumed that I had experienced a nightmare. The doll was duly removed and my Dad sat and talked to me and got me to try my little armchair which was a perfect fit. I loved that armchair which was placed in the lounge between my Dad's chair and the sofa. I was to spend many happy hours sitting in that chair reading my books.
The doll was another story. Later in the day they brought it out again. I burst into tears. This was not a pretty, huggable doll that I would have loved. This was not a baby sister. This was a monster. A thing of terror.
It must have cost them a good deal of money and looking back through the mists of time, they must have been hurt and upset by the whole thing.
Every time it was placed in my bedroom I would drag it to the toy cupboard, pull everything else out, place the doll in the very back and pile everything else on top of it. I wanted to bury it, I wanted to kill it, I wanted it to disappear. Even the knowledge that it was in the toy cupboard gave me the horrors at night. I imagined that it would open the door when I was asleep, crawl out and bite me.
My Mum kept getting the damned thing out again. Give them their due, they did try to win me over. They did explain time and time again that it was harmless, that it was just a doll. I would have none of it. I wanted this ugly evil thing gone. In the end, it was gone. They gave up and I believe gave it away.
After that, I always had a horror of store mannequins. I was alright approaching them but if I had to walk past one, I immediately felt light headed and sick. I feel the same way about waxworks. We have taken our own daughter to Madame Tassauds and I had to steal myself to do that.
Who knows what goes through the mind of a child? Things that parents would think of as harmless can leave lasting trauma. I can still see that hideous (to me) face to this day.
My Dad never made the same mistake again. The following Christmas he gave me the most beautiful doll I had ever seen (he must have saved for months). She was dressed in victorian clothes, silk clothes, all in beautiful blues and pinks. She had long brown ringlets, beautiful dark eyes with long lashes and if I held her hands she "walked" for me. I named her Angela and she was my pride and joy for several years.