(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but opinions and experiences are my own.)
I’d never liked dolls.
Oh, I was girly girl. I lived for piano and for dance class and for dresses. I was the lucky recipient of a bunch of full-length hand-me-down frocks (in two colours!) from my twin big cousins, and I would refer to these as “my evening gowns.” For real. I would put one on after the bath and flounce around. My parents had to establish just one household of relatives I could visit wearing anything I liked, because otherwise I would have been generally overdressed for life.
But I’d never taken a shine to dolls. All of the major doll fads just passed me right by. Cabbage Patch Kids? Strawberry Shortcake? Meh. Barbie? Ridiculous. Technically, I had a small collection of dolls from around the world—the kind that people would bring me as souvenirs from countries they visited. They remained in the clear plastic packaging that protected their traditional dresses and were displayed on a high shelf. I was fond of them but I didn’t play with them.
Sure, I acted out domestic scenarios like any little girl, but in my own way and without dolls as props. I played “house” but it was “Cold War house,” involving much dramatic rescuing of wounded soldiers. I bossed around my siblings and stuffed animals in various games of school, library and blanket fort.
But one Christmas season—when my little-kid years were passed and I was becoming what we’d now call a “tween”—I fell hard for a newborn-like doll called “Baby Love ‘n’ Touch.” I can’t recall if I saw her in the Sears Wish Book or in an ad on TV—we lived in the country and only had two channels, but it’s possible, I guess.
Her major selling points were the “realistic” heaviness that made her feel like a newborn in arms (well, at least to the children who were holding her) and some sort of magical (and possibly dubious) plastic or rubber that made her skin feel so soft. She wore an adorable sleeper in soft yellow (my favourite colour) that had a cute “trap door” for her pretend diaper changes.
We lived 200 miles from the nearest big city, and my mom tells me now that my Auntie Connie purchased the doll and brought her to our Christmas celebrations. I’d never asked for a doll before, and perhaps that made the occasion of me asking for one then such a big deal.
I don’t recall the moment I opened her precisely, but I remember that I spent much of that holiday cuddled up with my new baby in a state of maternal bliss. I was on the cusp of becoming a big kid but pausing along the way for some little-girl play.
Now that I have growing kids of my own, I find myself relishing the times they choose their more little-kid toys and past-times. My seven-year-old may have a skateboard and a tween-like fashion sense, but he still loves stuffed animals. And I indulge the heck out of that at both Christmas time and when I’m picking out souvenirs on business trips. My 11-year-old is deadly serious about basketball and world history, but he still wants to find Lego under the tree this year. And so he should. While the wait until Christmas morning is excruciating for kids, childhood itself is fleeting. So I hope they’ll both want toys for as long as possible. (Besides, I’m nowhere near ready for either of them to ask for cash and a ride to the mall, though I know those years are coming.)
For now, my wish for them is to remember the thrill of Christmas mornings with the same fondness I recall the year I got the one and only doll that captured my heart.
This post was sponsored by the folks at Sears.ca, who have kindly provided three (3) $50 gift certificates to thenewfamily.com readers. Just share a memory of a special holiday gift in the comments below and you’ll be entered to win!