The Christmas Wishing Tree stands tall in the town square, and I’m reminded of my seventh Christmas. We didn’t have much but Mum recycled, re-used and re-purposed long before it became an environmental catchphrase. Nothing was wasted.
I wanted, more than anything, the latest craze in dolls. All my friends had one, complete with accessories.
Coming home from school, Mum and I paused at the toy shop where ‘Annabelle’ sat. I wished on stars, crossed fingers and wrote a long letter to Santa.
Annabelle disappeared from the window. Could I dare hope? Had Santa been shopping? I knew Mum couldn’t afford her, but…
On Christmas morning, I found a parcel, just the right size for Annabelle.
But it wasn’t Annabelle. Instead a rag doll Mum had lovingly made from ‘good’ bits of our worn clothes. Mum sat biting her lip and I realised schoolyard rumours about Santa were true. Mum had done her best. It wasn’t Annabelle; she was far more beautiful.
I hugged Mum and felt her tears on my cheek.
At school, the other kids laughed and I wept quietly, hugging my doll in the corner of the playground.
‘What’s wrong?’ Our headmistress crouched beside me.
I showed her my doll.
‘She’s beautiful. Your mother is very talented.’
I felt better but resolved not to take her to school again.
That afternoon the headmistress met Mum at the school gate and asked Mum if she would teach crafts at our school.
Next Christmas our life was easier. Another Annabelle graced the toy shop window.
‘Would you like her?’ Mum asked.
‘No, Mum. I already have the best doll ever.’
I make my way to the little shop at the end of the street. Behind the counter Mum is making another doll. I tell her about the wishing tree.
‘Wonderful,’ she says. ‘We’ll donate some dolls.’
Wishes don’t always materialise as you expect. Mum’s recycled dolls became so popular we opened our own shop. Now, I sew, too.
And I have a new wish now – for every child to have one of Mum’s beautiful dolls.