Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My Christmas Story

I have always been a tomboy. I never really enjoyed girlie things, preferring to work with my dad in the garage, rather than help my mom in the kitchen. My favorite Christmas gifts were always toy trucks or tools, not the Easy Bake Oven my mom lovingly bought me. She never gave up on domesticating me, though and bought me dolls and other girl things for most of my life.

She went on a Barbie kick in the 60’s. I had Barbie, Ken, Midge and Skipper. I had a Barbie Dream House and the Barbie car, every Barbie thing in the world, mom bought me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my mom. She was a dear, sweet woman with a heart of gold, but I never understood her fascination with Barbie. Loving my mom, as I did, I felt it my duty to “pretend” to play with the things she bought me. I did all the girl things when mom was looking and when she wasn’t; I pitched Barbie off the front steps and made her do unspeakable things with Ken and G.I. Joe (who Barbie was seeing behind Ken’s back).

During the late fall and early winter of 1965, my mom spent an inordinate amount of time knitting and sewing in secret. I rarely paid any mind to her projects; even at a young age I knew it wasn’t my cup of tea, but the secrecy of the whole thing piqued my curiosity. I tried time and time again to see what she was up to, but to no avail. I finally gave up trying and carried on with my young life.

Christmas was always a time of great fun and frolic at the Kelley household. Mom made everything incredibly festive. She cleaned, cooked, baked and decorated herself into frenzy. Everyone in the house had a stocking, including the dog and cats and there seemed to be hundreds of brightly wrapped gifts under the tree. The night before Christmas I lay in my bed, watching the Christmas lights twinkle, thinking of what wonderful things I would see when I awoke.

Morning dawned cold and clear and as always on Christmas I was the first awake. I ran through the house rousting my parents and brother, the dog and the cats. When the coffee was brewed and everyone was seated, we began the gift opening. I’m sure every gift I received was wonderful, but I can really only remember unwrapping one package. It was a large box, carefully wrapped with one of my mom’s famous homemade bows on it. The ribbons had been cut just so, at an angle and the gift card matched the wrapping paper.

I eagerly shredded the wrapping and threw open the box. I’m sure my mouth dropped open as I saw what was inside. The box was full, completely FULL of Barbie clothes. Dresses, slacks, shirts, shorts, skirts, jackets, all hand sewn. There were cardigans, V-necked sweaters and full length sweater coats, all knitted by my mother’s hands. There were even several pairs of teeny tiny jeans, hand sewn.

Even at the tender age of 9, I knew how precious this gift was. It was the gift of love.


Cherrypie said...

I can totally relate to that. I was the tomboy, preferring to climb trees and race bikes whilst my sister was the one with all the Sindy dolls and would get cross when I snook in and placed her with ActionMan in compromising positions.

I never got the box full of handmade clothes but I did get some cross stitch samplers which, though hideous, I would never part with.

Thanks for dropping by and I will be sure to try your overdose technique next month. x

Anvilcloud said...

It certainly was a gift of love. How neat that you recognized it even at such a tender age.

dmmgmfm said...


It sounds as if we had similar childhoods. What a great way to grow up. By the way, I still have my Barbie stuff too. :)


I still remember how touched I was when I opened that box. It brings tears to my eyes thinking of it.

Homo Escapeons said...

Pass the Kleenex!
That was a very touching story and I am sure that all of your GI Joes looked fantastic in their new outfits!

dmmgmfm said...

They sure did, especially the evening wear. ;-)

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

You mom showered her love on you with her own creative skills! I believe that is the best kind of gift in any season.

threecollie said...

That is beautiful. My mom was the same, always giving me dolls and pink clothes until she finally gave up around the time i was ninish. Then I had the best Christmas ever, with a microscope, disecting kit, bird model and the Visible Horse under the tree. Now that worked for me. lol

dmmgmfm said...

Nick, Mom was a wonderful, loving, giving person. I treasure her memory.

Threecollie, Mom never gave up on me. In her last several years of life she bought me full sets of dishes, cutlery, pots and pans and the like. Bless her heart, she never gave up on me. Don't get me wrong though, mom wasn't a girlie girl herself. She owned and ran a hardware store. She cut glass and threaded pipe. She was quite amazing.

Cathy said...

Wow - I'm glad I kept scrolling down - Laurie - this is a beautiful, lovely narrative. Just so tender. And my gosh - it just brought back a memory of the clothes my Aunt Marie made for my doll Maureen as a Christmas present. I'll bet I was abouat your age when your mom made yours. I'm heading into the basement today to see if I can locate them.

dmmgmfm said...

Cathy, I hope you find the clothes your Aunt Marie made for your doll. I still have the dolls, the car, the dream house and the clothes. I'll never give them up.

Courtney said...

Our mom's sound very similar -- renaissance women!

I never had a lot of Barbies, after my parents divorced when I was four times got very hard. I never really wanted the Barbies, because I wasn't very girlie, either. I guess I just wanted the Barbie name, and to have the same things other children had. Poor is difficult to understand when you're four, I guess.

My mom loved to sew clothes for my other, bigger dolls, too. But I prefered to put them on my cat! And yes, I still have them. I also have the raggedy ann that she made for me, I couldn't, wouldn't part with it.

I'm not a psychotic, er, avid Barbie collector, but I couldn't pass on the Bewitched and Faye Wray Barbies -- they go in our toy room with all of Dan's action figures! :)