But now I’ve found my Achilles’ heel.
A couple of weeks ago, I opened a huge box in the corner of the basement. Inside was a jumble of dolls and doll clothes that hadn’t been sorted in 15 or 20 years, or whenever I decided that my daughters weren’t playing with dolls any more. I couldn’t really tell what was what, so I decided to just throw everything into the washing machine—dolls, clothes, everything. After all those years, who knew what lurked inside that box.
After the washing . . . 13 clean dolls
After the box’s contents were washed and dried, I started looking a little closer—and that’s when I recognized Elliot’s little face. Oh, Elliot—the bald-headed boy Cabbage Patch baby. Where was Lorna Patricia? The little red-head with one front tooth? I looked carefully at the three red-headed Cabbage Patch dolls, and Lorna Patricia grinned back at me, as if to say, “Don’t you recognize me?”
It was Christmas 1985. Our family, the Stay-at-Home-Stuck-in-the-Muds (mostly for financial reasons) had decided to go to Colorado and spend the holiday with Tom’s two sisters and their families. The kids (ages 4, 6, and 10) were excited beyond description—first airplane ride, skiing in the mountains, traveling!
However, Tom and I explained carefully to the children, all our Christmas money would be spent buying airplane tickets. Did the kids understand that the trip was their present this year? There wouldn’t be anything wrapped up under the tree for them? Yes, they all nodded solemnly, they understood. (Do you sense a Hallmark Christmas story unfolding here?)
We bought the airplane tickets and began planning what to pack. The closer it got to Christmas, the worse I felt about “no presents.” I knew the girls were just dying for Cabbage Patch Kids like all their friends had—so somehow or other, I found the money to buy them each a doll (through legal means, I am certain, although I refuse to divulge the particulars). Secretly, I mailed the dolls to their aunt in Colorado and asked her to put them under her Christmas tree.
On Christmas Eve night, with all the relatives crowded into the living room, the tree was bursting with packages. Two little girls from Minnesota knew there wasn’t a present under the tree for them, and they tried to be brave and cheerful. But it was hard to watch their older cousins open mountains of gifts when they had none (although by the ages of 4 and 6, they were pretty used to being deprived).
Suddenly, their aunt reached under the tree for two wrapped boxes. Smiling, she handed them to my daughters—who looked confused, and then excited. Off came the wrappings, and there were Elliot and Lorna Patricia. My youngest daughter trembled from head to toe. “A bald-headed Cabbage Patch boy!” she kept repeating in disbelief, her little hands shaking as she held Elliot.
Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing. My nieces sat amid their mounds of gifts and just beamed at the two little girls who each got only one present, but were by far the most excited people in the room. A couple of the more tender-hearted relatives brushed away a tear (or maybe I just made up that part).
Elliot and Lorna Patricia waiting for their first plane ride back to Minnesota. (I have no recollection of what we gave our son for Christmas--evidently just an overnight bag as that is all he is carrying at the airport.)
So now it’s 2009 and I’m trying to minimize my belongings. I certainly don’t need 13 dolls with their 40 changes of clothing.
But Elliot and Lorna Patricia? I think they need to stay.
Elliot and Lorna Patricia, age 24, still lookin’ good in 2009