Childhood’s Last Doll

During the past several months, my body had developed curves and I no longer looked like a little girl. Things that had once interested me now seemed babyish. I’d even started having crushes on guys. Most of these things were pleasant and exciting, but once in a while part of me wanted to go back to the easy safety of a little girl’s existence.

That year, when I heard the first Christmas carol play on the radio, I felt a sense of relief. The familiar old song was like a good friend I hadn’t heard from for a full year.  I looked forward to once again experiencing the warm, comfortable traditions of childhood.

Receiving a doll every Christmas was one tradition that started before I could remember. As I listened to Bing Crosby sing, “Silver Bells”, I suddenly realized I was too old for dolls. Although I no longer played with dolls, I felt very sad.

Comforting myself by doing the things that weren’t changing, I threw myself into helping Mom decorate hundreds of cut-out cookies, picking out gifts to give and watching Mom bake her jingle tree bread. She secretly bought Christmas candy, but hid it in the usual closet. Her admonition that I wait until Christmas resulted in my secretly raiding the closet only once or twice.

Being too old to receive a Christmas doll this year stayed in the back of my mind throughout Advent. I understood, yet there was that nostalgic sad feeling.

It upset me when Mom wanted to change the corner of the living room where the tree would stand. I wanted everything to stay the same. I argued, “We ALWAYS put the tree next to the front door!”

Mom sensibly reasoned, “Until you were four, we put the tree up in the opposite corner. I have pictures of you sitting next to it when you were a small baby!”

Once the tree was brought into the room, all my objections stopped. The smell of balsam sap was strong in the air and made me feel safe and happy. There was comfort, too, in seeing the tree decorated in all of the familiar ornaments and tinsel.

On Christmas morning I woke up when Daddy got up to do the morning chores in the winter darkness. I crept down to the living room lit by only the Christmas tree lights.

Mom settled into her upholstered rocking chair and allowed me to sit on the floor next to the tree to open my presents.

One of the packages with my name on it was large and soft. Mom said, “Open that gift next.”

The first rip in the gift-wrapping paper revealed something with pink fur and was incredibly soft. I spotted a zipper running along the exposed end. What was this? I quickly turned the package and pulled the rest of the paper off. The pink fur was the skirt of a girl baby doll sleeping on her tummy. Her hands and face were plastic, but the rest was pink fur and lace.

Mom eagerly explained, “That’s a pajama bag. People put their nightgowns in them when they get up in the morning. The sleeping baby doll makes a nice-looking bed pillow.”

Daylight was still a few hours away, so when Mom said I should go back to bed, I was happy to obey. I took the pajama bag with me up to my room. I loved my useful doll!

As the gray winter dawn slowly lightened the sky, I lay in bed cuddling the soft baby. Her pretty, plastic face smelled as beautifully as a lifetime of baby dolls. I knew for certain that this was my last dolly for Christmas…and finally felt at peace.




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