Betty Ann Barr Boilesen

The Christmas Dolls



As told by Betty Ann Barr Boilesen

As Christmas Eve unfolded when I was seven years of age, it would be a Christmas that would have a story that I would share with family and friends for many years to come.

The snow was gently falling as we gathered for Christmas Eve at cousin Sara and Fred's house in the small town of Elba, Nebraska. Each year we would gather there for our traditional Swedish dinner of ludfiske gravy over mashed potatoes and a festive lingonberry desert.

I can picture my mother Anna and my father Manley; my sister Fay and her husband Andus and my niece Marjorie, age four; Sara, Fred and their teenage children Willie and Elsie sitting at the long dining room table. Marjorie and I would sit next to each other as we were the best of friends.

Marjorie and Betty Ann


Just before bedtime we hung out stockings on the chairs in the parlor for Santa to fill. We would then go to the kitchen cupboard to get a plate of cookies and to the icebox for a glass of mil. We had to give Santa his treat. After placing the cookies on the table we were wisked off to bed.

I can remember that night so well laying in my bed unable to go to sleep. Visions went through my head as to what Santa might leave for me. I had been such a good girl. I was sure my stocking would have something very special in it!

Finally, I drifted off to sleep but only to awake in the wee morning hours. Quietly, I opened the bedroom door and tiptoed into the parlor to see if Santa had arrived. Sure enough, he had eaten all of the cookies and filled the stockings!

As I looked at the stockings my heart sunk....I went to mine and there was a little girl doll on my chair. Then I looked at Marjorie's chair and Santa had given her the most beautiful baby doll I had ever seen. Oh, I thought, I don't want a little girl doll, I want a baby doll. I was so sad. Didn't Santa realize that I wanted the baby doll? Well, I can fix that, I thought. Santa just made a mistake. So I took the little girl doll on the my chair and placed it on Marjorie's chair. Then, I took the baby doll and placed it on my chair and tiptoed back to bed.

When daylight finally came on that Christmas morning so many years ago I can just picture myself ready to go to my stocking and chair and pick up that baby doll and hug it. Oh, I loved that doll. As I entered the room I can remember my mother and sister Fay looking at each other in wonderment, as if to say what happened here? I was sure they would just let it pass. They must have been thinking, did they make the mistake? They never, never said a word about the switch but explained to us that Santa must have gotten the dolls mixed up and put the baby doll on the wrong chair. So Marjorie got the baby doll after all. I was very disappointed, for I wanted that baby doll so much on that Christmas morning.

The next Christmas, Santa remembered my disappointment and left me a beautiful baby doll. I named her Beverly.


Almost 25 years later Santa and Beverly show up at another Christmas...this time not as a doll but as a daughter.