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Santa, That Is Not What I Asked For

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.

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what a wonderful story...what a wonderful gift!

My favorite doll was a Betsy Wetsy and I could change her clothes, too! (Oh, yeah, I still have her!) Thanks for sharing this story with me. ~nan