By Alice Ferguson
Alice's mother died when she was five years old. Although her nine brother and sisters were loving and caring, they were no replacement for a mother's love.
The year was 1925, and life was hard. Alice, who grew up to be my mother, told me that her family was too poor to even afford to give her a doll.
In the aftermath of her loss, Alice vowed to care for others. First, her father, then her husband, later her three children and then her grandchildren were the main focus of her life. She felt that she could make up for her sad childhood through her dedication to her own family, but an unfilled void seemed to remain.
In December 1982, I had a job at a local bank. One afternoon, we were decorating the tree in the bank lobby and singing carols, getting ready for the Christmas season. One of my customers approached me with a sample of her handiwork: beautiful handmade dolls. She was taking orders for Christmas. I decided to get one for my daughter, Katie, who was almost five years old. Then I had an idea. I asked my customer if she could make me a special doll for my mother - one with gray hair and spectacles: a grandmother doll.
The doll maker felt that this idea was certainly unique and took it on as a creative challenge. So I placed my Christmas order: two dolls, one blonde and one gray-haired for Christmas morning!
Things really started to fall into place when a friend had told me that his dad - who played Santa Claus at various charitable functions in my area - would be willing to make a visit on Christmas morning to our home to deliver my Katie her presents! Knowing that my parents would be there as well, I began to get ready for what would turn out to be one of the most memorable days of my mother's life.
Christmas Day arrived and at the planned time, so did Santa Claus. I had prepared the presents for Santa to deliver, along with one for my mother tucked into the bottom of Santa's bag. Katie was surprised and elated that Santa had come to see her at her own house, the happiest I had ever seen her in her young life.
My mother was enjoying watching her granddaughter's reaction to the visit from this special guest. As Santa turned to leave he looked once more into his knapsack and retrieved one more gift. As he asked who Alice was, my mother, taken aback by her name being called, indicated that she in fact was Alice. Santa handed her the gift, which was accompanied by a message card that read:
I was cleaning out my sleigh before my trip this year and came across this package that was supposed to be delivered on December 25, 1925. The present inside has aged, but I felt that you might still wish to have it. Many apologies for the lateness of the gift.
My mother's reaction was one of the most profound and deeply emotional scenes I have ever witnessed. She couldn't speak but only clasped the doll she had waited fifty-seven years to receive as tears of joy coursed down her cheeks. That doll, given by "Santa," made my mother the happiest "child" alive.
Now that I am no longer young, I have friends whose mothers have passed away. I have heard these sons and daughters say they never fully appreciated their mothers until it was too