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My China Doll

Updated on February 23, 2008

Harlequin Misshap

Years ago I bought several members of my family beautifully crafted Harlequin musical dolls for Christmas. These dolls sported rich velveteen outfits and had faces and hands made from finely-detailed painted porcelain. China has long been known for its fine porcelain figurines, dishware, vases, and other ceramic items.

The dolls I bought were not made in China but came from Germany, another manufacturer of these fine porcelain items. The biggest and "best" doll I gave to my mother. She loved her curio cabinet full of Hummels, Lladro figurines, small antique dolls and other collectibles. When she died several years ago it was quite a challenge to find proper homes for all of these delicate pieces. My sisters and I made a "wish list" for all the various treasures, so we managed in this way to place them.

Also, the person who gave the gift to Mother had first dibs on it. In this way I took back the very special doll that played "Bring in the Clowns." I kept this doll for many years always remembering how she sat on my mom's bed all those years - keeping her company and resting safely in her bedroom.

One of my sisters had requested this doll upon my mother's death, but I explained that I had given her the doll so I kept it.

Last summer I decided to let this doll go to that sister - she has been so supportive of me and shown tremendous love, so I packed the doll in a suitcase and took it with me to surprise her. I had never visited her home in northern Utah, so I made the trip with my most sentimental and cherished Harlequin musical doll. I was so excited and happy to be giving it away. I knew she would love her, too.

Well, the trip went fairly smooth until I arrived at the airport. My sister was nowhere to be found. She was to pick me up - had she been delayed somewhere? I walked around the terminal and broadcast a message for her to find me. I waited about a half hour then decided I better try and call her. So, I opened my suitcase with the doll inside and searched for my phone book. There was a man waiting to put a cart back right where I was squatting, so I shuffled through the suitcase, found the address book, then quickly shut it and moved over so he could access the cart rack.

Oh dear, I didn't shut the suitcase properly and when I picked it up to move it, the Harlequin doll tumbled out on the hard floor and her gorgeous head shattered in about twenty pieces. I could barely believe what had happened. How could I be so careless with her? Other people around me had let out a collective sigh then helped me pick up the pieces. I almost started to cry. I put all the pieces into a side pocket and loaded my headless doll back into the suitcase and called my sister. She finally answered and said she had been circling outside waiting for me to exit. Geez, I hadn't even thought to go out.

I didn't tell her about the doll until we got to her home. Then I told her the story and revealed the broken doll. We both cried just a little, then we swore to find another head. I tried gluing her back together but one big piece was missing from the top of her head so there she sits in my sister's closet waiting to be restored. It was a huge lesson in impermanence. I so wanted her to have it and enjoy it. Not to be. We can laugh about it now, but it was no laughing matter when I watched the doll in slow motion hit the airport terminal floor.

So, that's my sad story about fine Chinese porcelain.

My cat and the doll


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