The sentimentality of an old-fashioned Christmas never goes away. It doesn’t matter how many years or decades we hurl into the future, we all enjoy a visit from the spirit of Christmas Past. Yes, Dickens was onto something when he had old Scrooge visited by the seasonal specters. Those three ghosts, which Ebenezer first dismisses as “more gravy than grave,” end up helping to redeem this irascible old geezer, who genuinely hated the holidays and humanity. For most of us, the holidays are still a time of celebrating and jubilation. And, if we find ourselves worn down from decorating and shopping, we have the Hallmark Channel and streaming film services to perk up our dispositions. In addition to celluloid Christmas flicks, we also have our dolls: in many cases, a reminder of innocence and days gone by. Brenda Mize certainly has concocted characters that speak to and embody the wholesomeness of long-ago Noel nights and days.
Mize is the very talented face-up artist and seamstress behind the Eyes of Texas Dolls line. Brenda Mize’s creations are emblematic of gentler times, when little girls were dressed “just so” by proud mamas and wore heirloom jewelry, handed down by doting grandparents. Her lovely dolls are as effective as Charles Dickens’s eerie emissaries. Rather than haunting us, though, her dolls are ambassadors for remembering the Christmas celebrations of our own childhoods. The Texas artist is a master at making us remember.
Perhaps one of the reasons why Brenda Mize is so enamored with dolls and the holidays is that a very special doll figured heavily in her own childhood memories: “Back when I was growing up, grocery stores used to put lots of displays with special toys on top of the shelving units throughout the store. I remember wishing that I could have Suzy Smart with her school desk for Christmas, but I knew that things were very tight financially for my parents. Somehow my parents managed to buy me Suzy Smart that Christmas way back in 1966, and I was just ecstatic when I received her. (At the time, I believed it was from Santa, though!) It really meant a lot to me.”
Now as a grown woman, Mize acknowledges the generosity and selflessness of her mother and father. “Looking at her today reminds me how my parents did without to make each Christmas special for both myself and my two sisters growing up,” she told me. And, yes, you read that right. Brenda Mize did, indeed, say “looking at her today.” Fifty-two years after getting Suzy Smart, Mize still owns that all-important, totally significant toy.
“My doll is in perfect shape after being more than 53 years old. My mom taught both my sisters and myself the importance of taking exceptional care of all of our belongings,” she emphasized. “The mechanism inside her still works, but her voice is a bit raspier now from what it was all those years ago.” That’s hardly surprising — I’m sure Suzy Smart must have been discussing tons of confidential topics with Brenda Mize over the ensuing decades. You can’t have a doll for that long without occasionally sharing a secret with the all-seeing, all-watching companion.
In fact, as a testament to her mother’s wise words about preserving and protecting one’s possessions, Brenda Mize has nearly all of the dolls from her childhood. Mize has that genetic disposition toward keeping her keepsakes close to her heart and her soul. The respect for her past, and the people and items that populated it, have helped her to become a very empathetic doll artist and shop owner.
The proprietor of Beacon’s Glow Collectibles (“Hello, Rudolph, my reindeer friend,” I instantly think from that name), Brenda Mize knows how to chat with collectors because she is such a die-hard one herself. She appreciates the emotional threads, or Christmas ribbons, that tie a collector to the past. “I strive for a classic, old-fashioned look for my dolls that will hopefully evoke wonderful childhood memories for their owners. I still have vivid memories of getting all dressed up for the holidays as a child in a fancy dress, coordinated hat, tights, and a pair of Mary Jane dress shoes made from shiny patent leather or velvet,” Mize shared with me.
The award-winning doll artist is influenced by her connection to Christmases Past, Present, and the Future. Brenda Mize is also mightily fueled by a host of visual prompts that she spies with her own Texas eyes: “I get a lot of my inspiration from both colors and specific things in nature (butterflies, fall colors, and flowers, to name just a few). I also am fascinated with make-believe, magical things such as fairies. Pinterest is also a wonderful place to find inspiration—one can get hundreds of ideas for doll costumes from browsing.”
With a nod to Charles Dickens, the Eyes of Texas Dolls are a three-dimensional salute to Christmas goodwill and holiday cheer. The artist is also an admirer of the works of Mark Twain — one title in particular. Having been born and raised in Connecticut, Mize still occasionally views her years in Texas as a “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” which Twain penned.
Known as the Eyes of Texas designer, Brenda Mize admits that everything is bigger in her adopted home state. However, she still carries a bit of her New England reserve, connected to her Connecticut roots: “After all these years living in Texas, I still do not feel comfortable saying ‘y’all.’”