I met the girl in this photo when I was five years old. What I didn’t know then? Her story is a part of my heritage.
Before my parents brought me home from the hospital, Dad started a doll collection for his little girl. He purchased a tiny porcelain doll dressed in a pink-smocked dress from the hospital’s gift shop. She was soon joined by an even tinier porcelain doll in a diaper and bonnet with her own pacifier. I don’t recall receiving them, but I still have them. Friends and family added to the collection on birthdays and Christmas. I have limited memories of who they were from and when I received them.
I do remember receiving this little lady from the Black Forest in Germany. I don’t recall who the friends of my parents were that made the trip to Germany. What I do remember is, my father made a very big point to ask them to bring me a doll from the Schwarzwald (German for Black Forest). And they did! Her hair is so soft. Her clothes detailed even though she is a mere six inches tall. She was always one of my favorites and still is. For good reason.
I learned a little of my family’s story more recently. My mom’s grandmother came from a community in southwest Germany, very close to the Schwarzwald. She left her home and family and came to America under challenging circumstances for her, never to return. I now believe my dad considered this a way to honor my mom’s heritage, and bless me with a tiny part of it. Even though I had no knowledge of my great-grandmother’s story then, I choose to believe it’s exactly why she’s always been so special. My great-grandmother’s story inspires my current writing. I’m keeping this little lady by my side while I write. I never gave her a name, but from now on I’ll call her Clara–the name I bestowed on the protagonist in my stories.
While I don’t have curio cabinets full of collectibles, I have gathered a few collections over the years. My bookshelf headboard on my childhood bed held an accumulation of figurines from various trips my family made. Most of them had no relevance to the place–just things I loved at the moment. I especially remember an orange kitty with a blue butterfly on her tail, a mommy pink poodle with two pink poodle puppies leashed to her, and a sweet girl with an umbrella. She was a planter, too, with a long long philodendron plant traveling from her across the headboard and back. I’ve collected Christmas angels, nativities, Willow Tree® angels, and a very large snow village.
Except for a couple of dolls, a mantle full of Willow Tree®, and a few nativities, most of these collections are gone or packed away. As I pondered the fact, I wondered what collections have greater value than things. Sentiment and memories hold a very special place in our hearts–reminders of cherished memories and dreams. God means for us to have memories and dreams. No fault for collecting what’s dear to you. Collecting Bible verses and promises, instilling them in your heart, in your journal, memorizing them, and sharing them with others promises to be more dear to you and brings God glory. Or consider the peace from writing thankful notes each day and collecting them in a jar to refer to in times of trouble.
Jesus’ words make remembrance important. He provides a Helper to encourage us to remember.
The Helper is the Holy Spirit. The Father will send Him in My place. He will teach you everything and help you remember everything I have told you. ~John 14:26 (NLV)
NOTE: Lest anyone question it, I did a little research on the Neustadterin word on the doll’s skirt. I think she was purchased in another town in another area of Germany, but represents the Schwarzwald in her dress and appearance.
Copyright 2021, Lynn U. Watson
Scripture quotations are taken from the New Life Version, copyright © 1969 and 2003. Used by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc., Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683. All rights reserved.