A miniature-adult figure dressed in shimmering white satin decorated with beads and lace stared back at me from the Sears and Roebuck catalog. Her veil seemed sheer as dragonfly wings. I was seven years old and that doll was my only request from Santa Claus, as I had repeatedly told my parents.
On Christmas morning I woke at first light and tiptoed into the living room in my pink flannel footie pajamas. A doll stood propped among the colorful packages beneath the tree. Tears of disappointment spilled down my cheeks. It was not my elegant catalog bride but a child-like doll playing dress-up. Her gown was white dotted-swiss, not satin. The gossamer veil was replaced by an oval piece of her dress fabric. Her hair fell in sausage curls and she wore blue Mary Janes instead of high-heeled slippers.
I wiped my tears on my sleeve and picked her up. Then I saw the blue and white cardboard suitcase that had propped her up. I pulled it from under the tree, plopped down cross-legged on the floor, and popped the latch. A doll-size wardrobe spilled out—print dresses trimmed in ric-rac, ruffled skirts and corduroy slacks, a white cotton blouse, a pale green cardigan sweater that fastened with tiny silver buttons, petticoats with lace edges, a blue flannel nightgown and a seersucker robe. Wide-eyed, I inspected my treasures. Hugging my new doll, I padded down the hall and we both climbed into bed with my sleeping parents.
Just as clearly as I recall that Christmas morning, I remember visiting my friend Betty a few days later. I proudly held out my new doll when she opened the door. Betty led me to her bedroom where an elegant catalogue model in a sparkling dress and dainty high-heeled shoes lay propped against the pillows of her carefully made bed. Jealousy overwhelmed me.
“We can’t play with her,” Betty said when I reached out to touch the satin skirt. “Mother says I’m to keep her nice and not ruin the pretty clothes.”
I backed away from the bed and sat on the floor, dropping my doll and her suitcase carelessly behind me.
“What’s in there?” Betty eyed the suitcase.
I let her pop the latch and explore the wardrobe while I fought back tears.
“Oh, can I change her clothes?” Betty asked.
Soon we were talking and giggling as we dressed my doll and brushed her hair, then changed her outfit again.
Looking back on that Christmas, I wonder how many nights my mother sat up sewing doll clothes after I was tucked in bed. My wise parents understood what I really needed and gave me an age-appropriate gift far more special than what I had wished for.
Causes Cynthia Becker Supports
Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region