Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Christmas Kestner

Dolls are meant to keep and tell the story, so that the former owners memory stays alive.

The year was 1896 and the little girl was 6. She wanted a gift for Christmas and would really be happy with anything, because times were tough and her family had worked hard to provide food for the small family, for the year. Her Grandmother, that lived with her, had a few treasures from the old country.

One was a copper Luster Creamer that had always been in her family as long as she could remember and she thought that it had come from her Grandmother Manion.

The little girl called Agnes, was a happy little girl. She had her Mother, Father, and her beloved Grandmother. She was an only child, lonely, wanting someone to talk to and play with.

Oh, it wasn't that her Mother and Grandmother didn't pay attention, but chores had to be done and the family took in washing to make ends meet, while Daddy worked hard trying to do odd jobs to bring in enough to buy food for the family. They grew most of what they needed but some things had to be bought, flour, sugar and that nasty old coffee that Daddy drank.

All she dreamed of everyday was a doll. She had seen one in the catalog that was in the outhouse and thought that would make all her dreams come true.. She was six, but she was smart, smart enough to know that food and the house came before any thing else and had resigned herself for another year, to not have that dolly she wanted. It was by a man called Kestner. She had no idea where this Kestner was, or how much it would cost, because that part of the catalog was gone, but the picture was tucked safely under her mattress ticking and no one would ever take that away from her.

At night, after her Sunday bath, she would scurry under her covers and before she turned down the lantern for the night, she would take the picture out and by the low light, dream of her doll.

The weather turned cool and the nights were short. The days' chores were never ending and the little girl was tired. She was giving up hope and the tattered page was crinkled from so much hugging, and the desire of this little girl was strong... She gathered up her courage, and asked her Grandmother for the doll explaining, that she was alone and needed something to hug at night. Her Grandmother listened to her story wanting desperately to help her special little Agnes, named for her and so like her, with the braids coiled around her head. Right then and there she determined that her little girls' girl, would have the doll, no matter the cost. First she had to get into town to see where she could find Mr. Kestner and then ask him how much his dolls were and then see how much washing she could take in to make her granddaughters dream come true.

She began to work harder, longer hours, she even considered selling the copper luster creamer, but it was a link to her past and she wanted to save that for a real emergency, the kind that she knew would come...

She walked into town, her dress swishing around her, until she came to the store window. She saw the doll in the window, the one in the pink dress with blonde hair, very different from their dark hair, She knew in that moment, that she would get the doll for Agnes and for her own Daughter Mary, because she had never had a doll and had always wanted one. She washed many clothes, working long hours, til her hands were cold and bleeding to try and get the money...

She had talked with the store owner, finally finding out that the doll was made by a man named Kestner in Germany, not the mans name, that was selling the doll.

The money in the creamer was growing, almost enough to get the doll and one crisp morning she bought the doll after the long walk into town and hid it beneath her bed until Christmas, which was 5 days away. The little girl was working, doing chores trying to be so good, good enough to deserve the doll of her dreams... She awaited Christmas morning with longing, with excitement and with fear. She tiptoed into the living room, the excitement building, and looked at the tree her dad had chopped and they had decorated last night with her eyes half closed. Holding her breath she went into the room and there, she saw her! The doll in the pink dress and her box close to her side and on the side of the box were the words Made In Germany, and Jointed Doll, and the Crown and Streamers that she saw in the catalog and she knew her doll was here! She had blonde hair and dark eyes and little shoes and socks like her own and she named her the doll Agnes, after her Beloved Grandmother. The little girl believed in miracles and her Grandmother, and was thankful. Here is Agnes' doll that she received in 1896 along with the box top ends.

I have the whole box but it is apart and needs to be repaired.

Agnes came to me one cold morning 10 years ago from the Niece of Agnes named Elizabeth Agnes after her Aunt. the picture is Agnes Manion as a young girl a little later in life and there is a picture of her beloved Grandmother Agnes Manion in the Sweet Nell picture but it may be hard to see.

She lives with another doll from family, a Sweet Nell that belonged to her cousin and the luster pitcher is also with the dolls and they live in Upstate NY where they are loved and the story is told and the doll is happy, as happy as Agnes was in 1896. Hope all enjoyed the story of one of the dolls that live with me and the hard work and determination of her dear Grandmother to get that doll for her. Hope all have a great week. Kimme

Sweet Nell

"Everyone Needs At Least One"

Addendum. The Kestner doll is now back with the original owners cousin:-)

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