So instead of all of those other posts, I thought I'd share the photo story I wrote for my fellow doll club member. It's nothing deep or profound, but I hope you guys are able to enjoy it anyway. ;) It's called Herbert's Christmas Romance. (Written and photographed by me.) ;)
Herbert loved this time of year. It was much nicer than staying cooped up in a dark, cramped box in the attic. Nothing was more wonderful than the day, usually in late November, when his box was dragged down from the drafty attic and opened in the warm glow of Christmas lights. The Human Family would pull out the ornaments one by one and hang them on the tree. Herbert always breathed a sigh of relief when it was his turn to escape the confines of the box and hang from the branches of that year's tree of choice. He loved watching the children clap their hands and squeal with delight as each decoration was unearthed for the year. He stifled a chuckle as they took turns hanging ornaments of their own on the tree, usually cramming four or five onto one branch together. The Oldest tried to correct her siblings from such a mistake. She was eleven now, practically a grown up in her own mind, and prided herself on hanging each ornament with a proper amount of space around it.
Herbert glanced around tree as best as he could without moving too much. How the family would shriek if they found out he was alive beneath the stuffing, plastic, and wire! All of his old friends from past years had returned.
There was Mr. Fox...
...and Little Gnome...
...and the Bead Doll Sisters...
Cassie was there, too, the same soft, friendly rag doll with a round, plastic ball for a head. She had yarn braids for hair and tiny black dots and a red curve painted on her face for eyes and a mouth. Cassie was one of Herbert's oldest friends. He liked how level-headed and sensible she was.
Cassie caught him watching her, and gave him a quick, furtive wave when no one was looking. Herbert smiled back, not brave enough to return the gesture.
His eyes traveled over the rest of the bright, sparkling tree, and joy filled his little stuffed heart until he thought he would explode.
The voice of one of the children, the youngest girl, interrupted his thoughts.
"Mommy, we forgot the new ornament!"
"You're right!" the Mother agreed. "Poor thing. Here, let's hang her up right now."
The Youngest took the ornament carefully from the Mother, cradling it with her hands at an angle that hid it from Herbert's view. He strained to see from the corner of his eye, but it was no use.
The Youngest hung her several branches away from Herbert, close enough to see but too far away to communicate unnoticed. As the child's soft hands moved away from the ornament, Herbert got his first look at her.
Something strange happened. Herbert's stuffing twisted uncomfortably, as though someone was squeezing it with giant fists. His plastic head felt light enough to float away, and his limbs went numb. He shook his head a little as soon as the humans turned away, then took another look at the new arrival.
She wore a bright, red dress the color of fresh cranberries. It was lush and soft, and trimmed at the ends with white fur. A festive bouquet rested in one of her tiny hands. The other was stretched out in a graceful pose. She had white wings made from real feathers at her shoulders. But her face was what Herbert noticed most of all. It was made of delicate porcelain, with a sweet, serene expression painted there in fine detail. Her brown hair was porcelain as well, and was molded to look as though it was blowing in a gentle breeze.
She was breathtaking. Literally. Herbert was finding it hard to breathe. He wanted to hang there and stare at her forever. But then her calm, delicate face and painted blue eyes found his own, and Herbert looked away in embarrassment. She was too beautiful.
Later that night, when the Human Family was in bed, Herbert climbed down from the tree, as was his yearly custom, and visited with his friends. The new ornament stayed in her place. And no wonder. It wouldn't be safe for her to climb down with her fragile porcelain head and hands.
"What's up?" Cassie asked Herbert, noticing his less talkative mood right away.
"I think I'm in love," Herbert confided.
A chortle rose up from Little Gnome, who was sitting beside them. "You? In love? That'll be the day."
"What do you mean by that?" Herbert asked a little too defensively.
Little Gnome tried to hide his amusement under his bushy beard, especially after a glare from Cassie. "It's just...well, no offense, but you're not exactly the romantic type, Herbert."
"I could be."
Another half giggle escaped Little Gnome. "I don't think so."
Herbert looked down at his toes and tried not to blush.
Cassie's normally pleasant red line mouth turned upside down. "Herbert could win some ornament's affection if he wanted to."
"But I might need a little help," Herbert pointed out nervously.
"Say no more," Little Gnome said with a grin. "I can give you all sorts of pointers."
"Really? You don't really seem like the romantic type, either."
Little Gnome stared at Herbert in disbelief. "Are you kidding? With a beard like this? Ladies swoon at the sight of it. I'm telling you, women are into facial hair."
Herbert rubbed his smooth, plastic chin. "I don't think that's an option for me. Any other advice?"
"You have to act important," Little Gnome said, as if he were revealing an age-old secret. "Show this angel girl that you're someone she needs to know." His beard shifted with his hidden smile. "Allow me to demonstrate."
Little Gnome hopped away toward the Bead Doll Sisters. "Ladies," he said in a deep, important-sounding voice.
Bea and Bella turned. "Hi, Little Gnome," Bea said casually.
Little Gnome cleared his throat. "You wouldn't believe the stuff I was doing today. Very top secret. It's a good thing the Human Family has someone like me to rely on."
"Wow," Bella said in her bubbly voice. "It must be amazing to be so important."
Little Gnome stole a glance at Herbert and gave him a look that said, See?
Herbert turned away from the scene. "I don't know if I can pull that off, but I'll try. I just need to act important, and then maybe I'll feel important."
"I think you're important already," Cassie said.
Herbert ignored this. He wasn't important enough for...he realized he didn't even know the angel's name.
A strand of white and green ribbon laying on the ground caught his eye. Maybe he'd look more important with a tie. He snatched it up and did his best attempt at a bow tie.
Cassie had to help him a little bit.
"Okay, I'm going up," he said, letting out a long breath. "Wish me luck."
Herbert felt like Romeo or some other romantic fictional character as he scaled the Christmas tree to his lady fair. He'd climb up, lean over the angel with ease, and introduce himself in his most important voice.
Unfortunately, it didn't quite go the way he'd pictured. Right as he reached her and opened his mouth to say something important, his foot slipped, and he nearly fell out of the tree. He managed to catch the end of the branch just before he tumbled to the floor.
The angel eyed him with something between amusement and hesitation.
"Hello," Herbert squeaked in a voice that sounded anything but important and impressive. He coughed and tried again. "I see you're new here. As an important member of the Christmas Tree, I thought I should welcome you."
She said nothing.
Herbert shifted his bow tie nervously. "So, uh, what's your name?"
"Persimmon." Her voice was as soft as rose petals.
Herbert waited, hoping she'd say something else. He wanted to listen to that voice forever and ever. He'd never considered naming someone after a fruit before, but Persimmon suddenly sounded like the most beautiful, wonderful name in the world.
"The Middle Child chose my name herself," Persimmon continued quietly.
All of Herbert's pretend importance melted away. His name had been the result of a bad joke. The Father had asked his children what they should name their new elf ornament, and he'd jokingly suggested Herbert, along with several other non-typical names. Everyone hated the name, but somehow it stuck. It was nothing like having one of the children pick out a personalized name. That meant Persimmon was a favorite. Herbert was not.
Feeling rather deflated, he forced a smile. "Well, it's nice to meet you. I should be going now."
Before she could answer, he swung down from branch to branch until he was back on the floor.
"Well?" said Cassie. "How did it go?"
"Not so great." Herbert sighed. "I don't think I was important enough."
"I'm sorry, Herbert." Cassie patted him on the shoulder. She gave him a bashful smile. "If it helps, you're very important to me."
"Aww, you're just saying that because you're my oldest friend and you have to," Herbert said, waving her comment away with one hand. But secretly, he was pleased. At least he was important to someone.
"I say, what are you two scheming about over here?" came the stiff, British voice of Mr. Fox.
"Hey, Mr. Fox," Herbert said. "I'm just trying to impress Persimmon."
Mr. Fox gave him a blank look. "And who, may I ask, is this Persimmon chap?"
"She's not a chap," Herbert corrected. "She's an angel."
Mr. Fox's black bead eyes twinkled merrily. "Ah, she's stolen your stuffing then, eh?"
Herbert blushed. "No, that's not what I meant. I mean," he hesitated, growing more flustered. "I mean...yes...maybe she has, but she's actually a literal angel. Wings and everything." He pointed above their heads.
"Oh, I see," Mr. Fox said. "Quite stunning, isn't she?"
"Yes. That's the problem," Herbert said glumly. "How will someone like me ever get the attention of someone like her?"
"Simple," Mr. Fox said. "You must change your name, old chap, to something more romantic. And, of course, speaking with an accent might increase your chances of winning her. Ladies love accents."
Herbert scratched his head. "I don't know. I'm not really good at the whole accent thing. And what would I change my name to?"
"Anything but Herbert," Mr. Fox said calmly. "Trust me on this one, my boy. And surely your accent can't be that bad. You've been around me for years, after all. What say you give it a test run?"
Herbert swallowed. "Um, cheerio and g'day?"
Mr. Fox shuddered. "Needs a bit of work, what? Perhaps she'll think you're from a strange, foreign land, as yet uninhabited."
"I don't know. I have a feeling I'll just end up making a bigger fool of myself if I try this."
"Suit yourself," Mr. Fox said, attempting the closest thing he could to a shrug without actually having shoulders. "Just trying to help." With a friendly smile, he hopped and flopped his way across the floor to visit with the Nativity Scene.
"I like your voice just the way it is," Cassie informed Herbert without looking directly at him.
"There's got to be something else I can try," he mused.
"You could serenade her with a beautiful song," piped up a small voice at his feet.
It was Bea. "Little Gnome told us about your problem." She gave him an encouraging smile. "Ladies love romantic songs."
"And flowers!" Bella chimed in. "Lots and lots of flowers."
So Herbert found some flowers and climbed back up the tree.
"Hello again." If only his voice didn't sound so squeaky. "I'm Her-Hugo," he stammered, remembering Mr. Foxes advice. "Sir Hugo the Elf, of the order of..." He scrambled to think of an important-sounding title. "The order of...Christmas." He wanted to disappear.
Persimmon regarded him with the same calm, unruffled expression.
"I came to give you these." He handed her the flowers with a nervous thrust.
She took them in her free hand without smelling them or even studying them.
"And I wanted to sing you a song."
Was it his imagination, or did a slight look of concern cross her face?
Herbert gave a hearty cough and opened his mouth to sing. It was only then he realized that he hadn't planned on a specific song ahead of time. His mind went completely blank. Panic seized him as he scrambled to think of a song, any song. Then a song came to him. He blurted it out before it could escape him again.
"Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way..."
Several mortifying moments and verses later, he slunk down the tree in embarrassment, trying to forget the vaguely amused expression on Persimmon's face.
Cassie tried her best to comfort him. "That was an...interesting song choice."
He groaned and hid his face in his hands. "There's got to be a better way to impress her."
Everyone had advice. The big reindeer suggested that Herbert wow her with his amazing talent.
Herbert couldn't think of anything he was especially good at, but there was still some of that ribbon lying around. He thought he'd try ribbon twirling.
That was a horrible mistake.
The princess ornament suggested he learn to dance so he could sweep Persimmon off her feet.
The only problem was, Persimmon didn't have any feet, just a hollow plastic cone. And Herbert had no coordination.
The big teddy bear suggested that Herbert quote a romantic poem.
He planned on one of Shakespeare's sonnets, but by the time he'd climbed the tree again, all he could remember was We Wish You a Merry Christmas and no poetry at all.
Every attempt was met with the same polite, distant indifference from Persimmon. She wasn't rude, but she also wasn't interested. At all.
Herbert finally gave up and sat in despair at the foot of the tree. Cassie tried to encourage him, but nothing she said made him feel better.
That morning, they climbed back to their branches. The Human Family would soon be awake, and they must not be caught out of their places or there would be questions.
At one point during the day, when the Humans were out of the room, Herbert heard a furtive whispering from across the branches. He glanced over and saw that Cassie had moved from her place. She was hanging right next to Persimmon. Herbert strained to hear their conversation.
"Why can't you just give him a chance?" Cassie was saying. "He's so infatuated with you. Would it kill you to show him a little kindness?"
"I cannot love," Persimmon explained calmly. "I am all serenity and peace, without emotion or opinion. I am here to be beautiful and admired, not to care for others."
"Well, that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Cassie grumbled. "Aren't you supposed to be a Christmas angel? Haven't you read the story of the first Christmas?"
"I am a mere ornament, just as the rest of you are, not a real angel. You must tell your friend that his feelings are wasted on me. I can never return his affections."
Herbert didn't wait to hear Cassie's response. He shrunk back in the branches, mortified by the whole conversation.
Later that night, Herbert slipped down the tree and plopped to the floor in a desolate heap. Cassie followed close behind, sitting gingerly next to him.
"How's it going?"
"So I take it you heard?" Cassie asked, worry turning her smile upside down again.
He sighed. "It's okay. I guess I'm destined to be lonely."
Cassie rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on, Herbert! You're worth twenty Persimmons! If she can't see that, it's her loss."
"But I'm not romantic or important. I can't dance or sing to save my life, and every time I try to say something fascinating, it comes out all mixed up."
"You may not be any of those silly things, but you're fun to be around. You like making others happy. You know every Christmas song. You like gingerbread and hot cocoa. You do the best somersaults of anyone I know. You're pretty much amazing."
"Of course, you big goof. I would hate to see you give any of that up just to impress some silly angel ornament."
"Wow. Thanks, Cassie."
"You know so much about me. I mean, I know we're friends and all, but wow! You've really been paying attention."
Cassie looked away, but not before he saw her pink cheek blush turn a shade darker. "I notice everything about you," she said softly.
And then it hit Herbert. Who needed a stuffy, cold angel when you could have a warm, funny, best friend? A friend who, just maybe, could be something more than a friend?
Adjusting his collar, Herbert stood up and held out a hand. "Would you like to dance?"
Cassie stared up at him suspiciously, but took the hand he offered.
He let out a loud whoop and started twirling her around the living room floor. Cassie tipped her head back and laughed. Her black eyes sparkled in the lights of the Christmas tree. She flopped about in the same ungraceful manner he did, but it didn't matter. They were having too much fun to care. And Herbert thought that maybe, just maybe, this might turn into his best Christmas ever.
I hope you all enjoyed the story! I had so much fun creating it. I started by finding different ornaments around town that were cute and had personality. From there, I came up with the plot and used my photography of the ornaments to illustrate the story, The Lonely Doll style. ;)
I gave my doll club friend a little scrapbook with the story and photos, and also gave her all of the ornaments featured in the story. It was so fun to see how much she enjoyed it. :)
I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas with family, true friends, and loved ones. :) May your heart be light, your time together be precious, and your joy be made complete by the true Reason for the season, the birth of Christ. :)