As I sat on the floor, struggling with awkward fingers trying to fasten tiny buttons, I looked with admiration at my little doll family all dressed up in their Sunday best.

“There!” I said, patting smooth the ruffles on Becky’s dress. “You are ready for company now.” Becky dutifully smiled at me in return, as eager as I was, or so I presumed, for company to arrive.

I had three dolls. Cindy was my adopted baby. She had delightfully soft brown skin and dark curly hair. She looked very pretty in her pink velvet dress with real lace and was sitting contentedly in the little swing that my Dad made especially for her.

Luanne was the doll my aunt had given me the year my baby brother was born. She wore a delicate white christening gown. It was identical to the one my brother had worn. I always thought it made him look like a girl, but never did tell him that! I put Luanne in her little cradle at the foot of my bed. She was sleepy and content to take a nap while the others got ready for the party.

And then there was Becky. Becky was my favorite doll! She was as soft and cuddly as a newborn baby. I had just finished dressing her in a frilly yellow dress with real smocking and velvet ribbons.

Having satisfied myself that the dolls were ready, I turned my attention to setting out the tiny tea service. I could hear the kettle whistling in the kitchen and reminded myself to hurry. My company would be here any minute now!

Carefully I placed the dainty crocheted doilies around the little red table, then placed each tiny cup and saucer precisely in the center of each doily.

Suddenly I remembered! Peter was coming too!

I knew all too well just how horrid little boys could be when it came to tea parties! Quickly I went to the closet and searched for the little trucks that Alan had played with when he came for a visit last week. Sure enough, there they were! I placed them beside the dolls, and not a minute too soon! The doorbell rang out, gaily announcing the arrival of guests.

One of the happiest memories of childhood is the ritual of Sunday afternoon visits from friends and relatives. Remembering the eager anticipation of the guest’s arrival, the special preparations, the sound of the whistling tea kettle or the smell of coffee brewing in the percolator, and especially, the waiting and waiting and waiting for the unbearably silent doorbell to ring—what cherished moments these memories evoke from days long past!

At last the visitors arrived. The chiming bells impatiently summoned me to the door! “Hi there,” I cried as I threw open the door. “I’m so happy you’re here!”

Elaine, Peter, Andrea and Meg noisily made their way into the parlor and settled in for a pleasant afternoon’s visit.

“Why, look at what we have here!” Elaine exclaimed as she looked at all the toys. “Wherever did you get all these wonderful things?”

“May we play with all those toys?” Peter asked. Andrea and Meg had already made their way to the corner of the parlor and were furtively surveying the situation.

“Yes you may, Peter,” I responded.

To answer your question, Elaine, “I got these things from Mom and Dad’s place. Dad was cleaning out the attic and asked me if I would take my old toys with me as he just didn’t have room to store them anymore. I thought your kids would enjoy playing with them when they came for a visit.”

“I’m sure they will,” Elaine replied.

As we made our way to the kitchen for some coffee and a chat, out of the corner of my eye I could see Becky plopped ungraciously over the arm of the chair while the two girls systematically removed treasured ornaments from the lower reaches of my book shelf. Peter was cautiously eyeing the tea service on the little red table.

“I sure hope so!” I said.

A very special thank you for this lovely, original illustration by Canadian artist, Janet Slessor. © Slessor, 2009. Original Story by Val Seath, © 2012. All rights reserved.

This story emulates a short story titled Once More to the Lake” by E.B. White.

The story was first published in Harper’s Magazine in 1941. The story chronicles the author’s pilgrimage back to a lakefront resort, Belgrade Lakes, Maine, he visited as a child.

One of the objectives in writing this story was to “present a situation as seen through a child’s eyes” while writing the story from an adult’s point of view.

I must confess, it was a difficult undertaking.

However, the story I wrote is partially based on fact. I did have dolls by those names. Becky was my favorite doll. And my Dad did store my old toys in his attic for many years until he had the attic insulated and the toys had to be removed.

As an adult, I never had children of my own, but was very familiar with their antics, as I was often called upon to babysit or be an ‘auntie’ for several of my friend’s kids.

Not to mention; as a child, whenever I visited a home where the hostess had set out things for me to play with, without fail, the things on the bookshelf always held more appeal and fascination than the toys.

But don’t tell anyone I wrote that, okay. I try to let on that I was a perfect child.

Not an easy task in the presence of anyone who knew me as a child.

Or who knows me today!!!