gifts of memory

I am an old woman with a trunk filled with dolls. I thought I would save them for a daughter, but gave birth to four sons.

Then I thought I’d save them for a granddaughter. But when the hub bub of family arrives, this trunk, stuffed in the attic, is not remembered.

What is remembered, is one of my first lessons in grown up life.

More than anything, I wanted a Shirley Temple doll for Christmas, but my parents didn’t do Christmas wish lists. I got what I got. And I got what they could afford. Still, I found a million and one ways to press upon them the complete, utter importance of receiving this doll.

This happened in the old days when there was no Amazon, no FedEx or UPS delivery. There was just the Sears catalog. And in our area anyway, Sears ran their own delivery trucks. So the day their truck stopped at our house, my hopes soared. I was sent outside to play while Mom received the boxes and put the contents away. Somewhere safe. Out of sight. But not beyond my curiosity.

A couple days later, as my parents talked with a neighbor in the front yard, I ran into their bedroom and looked beneath the bed. And there she was. My Shirley Temple doll. I thought I would explode with excitement until I realized… I had to pretend I didn’t know.

It was a tough couple of weeks. I hated myself for ruining my own surprise. My acting skills grew by leaps and bounds.

On Christmas morning, instead of quietly sipping coffee, Mom and Dad were as excited as me. They were almost giddy, which is a word I don’t typically use to describe my parents. As I opened the box, I was a mess – – ecstatic to have the doll, ashamed of my snooping and anxious not to ruin their happy moment.

I must have pulled it off, because I remember it being a happy Christmas all around. And over the next couple years, Shirley was well loved. Unfortunately I ruined her lovely signature ringlets when I gave her a bath and tried to comb her hair. I’ve never been good with hair.

In this strange pandemical year of 2020, with less doing and more remembering, I’m grateful for my parents. They left behind a treasury of memories. Material things don’t last (except for the odd trunk of dolls). Experiences and relationships do.

There’s still time to create a few good ones in this crazy year. You can leave them behind as gifts for the ones you love.


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