Thanks so much to Laura at ‘All the Shoes I Wear’ for the fond memories of Christmas’ past. If you haven’t read her post ‘Creating magic out of nothing at all’, it is worth a read.
My folks were never ‘well-to-do’ but we always seemed to have enough of what was needed and there was never any coverting of what others had. That was until one day, at Kindergarten, I saw THE MOST AMAZING doll I had ever laid my eyes on. Another girl, whose parents owned the local pharmacy, brought the doll to school as a ‘show-and-tell’. They’d brought it back from a trip to America (that in itself was amazing in the late 1960’s as international travel was quite expensive and rare unless you were SUPER rich), and we were all filled with wonder about both their travels and the doll! This doll stood nearly as tall as us (6 year olds), had the most lustrous long blonde hair, talked when you pulled a string on its back and when you held it’s hand it would walk with you. Oh my gosh, I was SMITTEN!
When mum took me to see Santa I whispered in his ear that I really wanted one of those dolls, like Michelle had. Back then we would get simple gifts from mum and dad and one special one from Santa. The previous Christmas, when I was getting ready to start ‘school’ Santa brought me the neatest little school port (case/bag) full of the prettiest handkerchieves that a little girl could want (you would think that I was a ‘snotty’ little brat if you saw how many there were). Some had flowers and some had cute animal pictures on them. I was in raptures. This year would be superceded completely!
When it was gift opening time, I got THE BEST surprise and present of my life! There under the tree was a gorgeous wicker basket, complete with wooden coathanger rockers underneath; lined with beautiful white satin, including a pillow. Resting her head on that pillow was my own perfect doll. She was NOTHING like the other, but she was even more prized especially when I learned about her. She had dark curls and her eyes opened when she was sat up and she then said “mama”. She was dressed in the most beautiful pale pink dress, with underclothes and bloomers, which all turned out to have been lovingly stitched by my mother.
Mum had traveled to Sydney (Australia – a couple of hours by train) to visit the Doll Hospital. There, rejected and forgotten dolls were repaired and brought back to life to bring joy to new owners. This doll had received a couple of new limbs, voice box repaired and new hair follicles inserted. Some of mums friends at the CWA (Country Women’s Association), of which she was a long-standing member then set to ensuring that Madeline had the perfect bed, as a gift for me (their youngest member). One of them wove the basket while another stitched and attached the satin covers, complete with a wide blue satin ribbon woven through the cane basket. My gift of love was actually an ‘upcycled’, reloved toy, and that made it all the more precious to me. She was even more beautiful that the American beauty, and I loved her for many many years. I look back now with regret that I gave her to my God-daughter as a prize possession, but she was of an age that toys were just for the trashing and I fear that Madeline didn’t survive very long and ended up at a tip, discarded and unloved.
I am thankful to my mum for what she instilled in me, and while sometimes my friends and family might think I’m stingy, on the commercial side, I have always tried to make something personal and individual for them as gifts. To me it really is the thought and effort that counts, way beyond the $$ value. I really couldn’t care much for something bought in a shop really and I am again requesting that hubby think about what he can make me for Christmas. Last year I created a personalised, hand painted journal cover for his ‘ideas book’. We are both creative and I have been slowly learning to have an art journal nearby to jot down ideas before they are forgotten – though I really need one by the bed for my 3am brilliant ideas. This year for him, I have designed and drawn up a fun, vintage themed sign for his shed (man cave) which a signwriter friend is having printed off for me. I’m excited to see his reaction come Christmas day! I’ll have to remember to come back and add a picture later.
May you all know and enjoy the real meaning of Christmas as we celebrate the most precious gift that was ever given for us, the gift of God’s son, Jesus, so that we can all have hope for a life of peace (even amidst turmoil) and even eternal life in a much better place where there is no hate, evil, turmoil or war. A place filled only with love. That is my hope.