Last week I blogged about the best gift I ever gave. This week, in the afterglow of the holidays, I want to tell you about the best gift I ever received.
The Christmas when I was five, Santa left me a mama doll. Mary Ann originally had curly light brown hair and wore a pale yellow silky dress. When I turned her over, she said, “Mama.” Her eyes opened and closed, and two tiny teeth and a red felt tongue showed through her open mouth.
She soon became my best friend. She went everywhere with me. I kissed her so often I wore all the pink from her cheeks. Her hair fell out from too much brushing, and eventually, her wig came off altogether. Unfortunately, my younger brother got to her. He bit the tips off some of her fingers, pushed her eyes back into her head, and did the same to her teeth. Of course, I cried with each loss, but I never stopped loving her.
The night before my seventh birthday, I realized Mary Ann wasn’t in my room. I asked my mother to let me look for her, but Mom insisted I go to sleep. She promised she and my father would find her. I cried myself to sleep that night.
The next morning, I awoke to see a new doll at the end of my bed. I ran to the kitchen to thank my mother. She gave me a strange look and asked, “Don’t you recognize her?”
When I looked closely, I realized the ‘new’ doll was my own Mary Ann. During the night, Dad had refurbished her, including a new wig and all new clothes. He had re-positioned her eyes and teeth. Once again, she opened and closed her eyes. The only give-away was that the tips of her fingers were still missing. But she was my special baby. And she looked even more beautiful than I remembered.
Many years later, I took Mary Ann to church with me and told the story of her refurbishment to illustrate how God gives us not what we think we want (a new doll) but what we really need (getting something beloved back even better than before).
My mother met me afterward with tears streaming down her cheeks. “Thank you for telling the story. I always felt guilty because your dad had been hospitalized, and we had no money to buy you a birthday gift. He worked for a department store, and between his employee discount and the pile of items to be discarded, he was able to find the wig and doll clothes at practically no cost. He stayed up late in order to repair your doll, but we both regretted not being able to get you a new one.”
I reassured her nothing could have been better than to have my precious ‘baby’ restored.
When my daughter was small, she was allowed to play carefully with Mary Ann only when she was ill. She knew how much the doll meant to me, and she loved her, too.
For my Christmas gift when Kim was in her teens, she located a fancy doll dress at the thrift shop. Since Mary Ann’s old clothing was worn out, she needed something new.
My beloved doll still wears the ‘new’ dress, and once in a great while, a visiting child is allowed to hold and hug her. She now lives in the guest room closet along with a couple of teddy bears. And when I see her, I remember how much she meant to me.
She still does.
What was your favorite gift? Why was it special to you?