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The Most Magical Christmas

I suppose many of us have a "Magical Christmas" that stands out from all the rest of Christmases we've had; that one Christmas, where everything was perfect and magical.

I happen to have that Christmas.  It was back in 1955, the Christmas I was six years old. The Christmas where Santa was so real, I could actually see him peeking through my widow to see if I had been naughty or nice!


I was living on Long Island, New York, at that the time, in the town of Massapequa. Massapequa was a small town back in the 1950s, mostly farmland and not far from Jones Beach, New York. It was home to me for the first seven years of my life. This would be my last winter and Christmas in New York, for my family would move to Florida in the fall of 1956.

Though our town was small by most standards, it still had the basic stores for shopping. If you wanted larger gift items and clothing you went into New York City. For a child of six, our town had everything it needed, especially a Western Auto store.

At the Western Auto was the most beautiful doll I had ever seen. This Christmas season of 1955, the Ideal Toni Doll was very popular with little girls. I happened to spot her in the store and was truly in love with her.

The Toni doll came with her own perm for her hair. Believe it or not, the Toni doll had real human hair. It was auburn, so pretty and shiny like a new copper penny. I just loved her red hair. Her body made of wood could move and bend. Her face was so pretty I immediately fell in love with her. She had beautiful blue eyes with thick black lashes, rosy cheeks and the prettiest red bow mouth. There was nothing else I wanted for Christmas but Toni.

For the month and half prior to December I had been eyeing her at the Western Auto store. I made sure mom and dad knew this was exactly what I wanted Santa to bring me.

Please tell him I want this I had told them.  My mom and dad assured me they would tell Santa, but I had to be a good girl, do my chores and behave myself. That wasn't always easy, after all I was only six years old. I was a normal little girl who got into trouble just like other six-year-olds. My halo was often lopsided, and I did some naughty things, but I prayed Santa would forgive me. Did I dare to dream?  Could I possibly hope to receive Toni for Christmas?

Each week prior to Christmas I asked mom and dad if I could accompany them to town. We lived within walking distance, and I would often go with them. As we passed Western Auto, I would stare at the Toni doll in the window. "Please Santa bring me Toni," I would say to myself.

The weeks passed slowly, but soon it was Christmas Eve, the most magical night of all. Everything was perfect that night. It even snowed like a beautiful Christmas card. Our house was warm and cozy. We were gathered in front of  the fireplace, hanging our stockings before going to bed.

Looking at the fireplace, I got a little nervous. Could Santa actually come down the chimney with a fire going? Sensing my concern, my parents assured me the fireplace would be cool by morning. That was a magical way that only Santa and his elves knew about., I breathed a sigh of relief and went on hanging my stocking on the mantel.

After kissing my mom and dad goodnight, I crept into bed with my older sister not far behind. She was four years older than me, and I'm sure she was giggling to herself and playing along with the fun of my magical belief in Santa. Probably in her own heart she was still believing too! Who doesn't believe in Santa? I've never stopped believing! That's what makes it so magical.

When Christmas morning arrived I tipped-toed out of my bedroom, quiet not to wake my parents, brother or sister.  As I crept to the living room, I lit the Christmas tree and looked around me.

There sitting under the tree was the most beautiful doll I had ever seen. It was Toni, more beautiful than the one in the Western Auto store, Toni was truly mine now!

My dream come true, the magical Christmas I will never forget. Well, that wasn't all I got that year for Christmas. There was also a pretty new doll carriage. My goodness, had I been that good this past year and had Santa forgiven all my wrongdoings?

You, see this was 1955, not long after the Korean War. People were getting back on their feet after the War. Parents had Christmas savings funds at the banks. Each week they would put a small amount into savings so they had money to buy Christmas presents for the family. When the money was gone, it was gone. There was not much left for extras. Children didn't ask for more than one toy or doll. It just didn't happen. We were content with simple tings and would use our imaginations much more than children today.  We did have layaway plans at many of the stores. Perhaps, Santa had my doll on layaway just for me. I will never know, nor would I want to spoil the magic I received that special Christmas so long ago!

We didn't have computers, I-pods, cell phones, or TVs that had Christmas ads from August to December. We had only the basics, What we saw at one given time right before Christmas. Children's wish lists were much smaller back in the 1950s. We were content with one large gift that we longed for, and even clothing an underwear was a gift. Ask anyone over 60 and they will tell you this is true. If Santa brought anything extra you thought you had died and gone to heaven.

Yes, the Christmas I was six years old was one of my most magical Christmases. Santa was so real and so was my dream of Toni. Today I still have Toni. She'll be 63 years old on Christmas Day. Though, she has aged, she is still my beloved Toni. Her head is nearly bald now, since I enjoyed combing and brushing her hair as a child. Her body shows some age. Her eyes have faded a little, but the lashes are still black and fringed. She still has rosy cheeks a pretty red smile. Yes, she's my Toni! The doll who made dreams come true for a little six-year-old girl.

This Christmas, Toni and I will celebrate her 63rd Birthday. I will place underneath my Christmas tree. Some day I hope to leave her to someone who will love her as much I have.