Tidings of Comfort & Joy - Ashton-Drake Holiday 2021

It was eight years ago, and I’ll never forget it. My sister, her husband, and my little niece had been staying with us awhile while they were doing some remodeling. My niece was around ten months old, and I just couldn’t get enough of her, so I considered the arrangement a blessing.

She had the sweetest smile, a giggle to melt your heart, and the most beautiful emerald eyes that would just gaze and gaze at you. Since she’d been with us, she’d been pretty chatty. Lots of vowel sounds – “oohs” and “ahhs.” Even the occasional “Muh.”

And then it happened. Her mom and I were having lunch at the kitchen counter, with our niece set up in her highchair next to us. We were in the middle of a conversation, when suddenly my niece giggled, turned to my sister and said it. “Mama.”

We both screamed in delight. My sister rushed to grab her husband who’d been upstairs on a conference call, while I remained there with my little niece, holding those two chubby little hands, and doing my best not to weep uncontrollably.

It’d been a while since I thought about this, but the other day at the office, it all came rushing back to me. On the way out of a meeting I saw our new doll Emma Grace’s First Words in one of our design studios.

I hadn’t seen her in person yet – just photos of her with that smiling face, wearing that pretty floral top with the lace accents. I knew all about her special feature so I couldn’t help but scoop her up into my arms and give it a try.

Holding her like a real baby, I brushed her cheek with my finger and she let out the sweetest little giggle then said, “Mama.” Instantly I was swept back to that day in the kitchen and my heart melted. As I stared down into those sparkling blue eyes, I felt like mine were about to well up. Not wanting to spend the rest of the workday blubbering, I quickly set her back down and headed back to my office.

On the way there, though, I had a great idea. My niece is going to be having a birthday soon. When I go over for the little party they’re having, I’m going to bring her an Emma doll, and with it, write up a little note telling her all about that perfect memory.

I think she’s going to love it!