Christmas 1850 arrived on a cold, snowy morning with temperatures dipping in the low teens. The four Willard children ran to the fireplace to see what Santa left in the wool stockings knitted by Mary. The stockings were lumpy which made their contents all the more intriguing. “Mama, look!” cried Sarah. “Fwoot an’ a wag doll! I gonna name her Mawee, like you." Hugging the doll, Sarah said, “I wuv my doll, Mama, I gonna keep her fo’evah and evah!" Mary was pleased that Sarah liked the rag doll she had sewn for her with its yellow yarn hair and black button eyes. The children each got an orange as a special treat, and the boys each got a wooden toy that John had made. For Benjamin, he made a toy caboose with real wheels; for Thomas, a puzzle in the shape of a horse; and for Jonathan, a small paddlewheel boat that he could sail up and down Fish Creek. While the children were happily absorbed in their toys, John got up and left the room. He came back with a large item and handed it to his wife.
“This is for you, Mary dear. It’s a sewing box for all your spools of thread and your knitting needles and yarn. I hope you like it."
Mary ran her hands lovingly over the shiny mahogany sewing box, “Oh, John, it’s beautiful! What craftsmanship you put into everything you do. I adore it! I have something for you, too." Mary went into a closet and brought out a large red braided rug made from leftover fabrics. “I know how you don’t like getting out of bed and stepping on the cold floor, well now you won’t have to." John admired the rug and took it right into the bedroom where he placed it on the floor by the bed. When he came back, he gave Mary a big kiss. Twitching his mustache, he asked, “If you hadn’t already, would you marry me, Mary?"
She answered him with a kiss.
While the children played with their new toys, John read their favorite story to them, A Visit From St. Nicholas.
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