Sunday, November 25, 2018

Gift-Giving – Another Take

For Christmas the year I was five, Santa brought me a “mama” doll. She instantly became my favorite, and I named her Mary Ann. By my seventh birthday, I had loved her so hard I had worn off her hair and her once-blonde wig had fallen off. Her rosy cheeks had lost their color from many kisses. Mary Ann had an open mouth and two tiny teeth. My brother had pushed the teeth inside her mouth so I couldn't see them. He also bit off the tips of a couple of her fingers and pushed in her weighted eyes so they were nearly invisible and didn't open and close anymore.

I loved her anyway.

The morning of my seventh birthday, I woke to the sight of a new doll sitting on the foot of my bed. I rushed into the kitchen to tell my mother how much I loved my new doll.

Mom looked at me funny. "Don't you recognize her?"

I looked closely and noticed the tips of her fingers were bitten off and some of the color was missing from her cheeks. “Mary Ann.” I held her even tighter once I realized she had been restored. Her teeth were back in place. Her eyes, once again, opened and closed. Nothing could have been a better present

Later, I learned my dad had spent most of the night repairing her, adding a new (and completely inappropriate) wig, and dressing her in new clothes.

She was my best friend throughout my childhood, including the following spring when my father died.

When my daughter, Kim, was little, she was allowed to play and sleep with Mary Ann, but only when she was ill. Kim knew how much my doll had meant to me, so for Christmas one year when she was in her teens, she found a beautiful doll dress at the thrift shop and gave it to me—and Mary Ann.

Years later, I told this story to the kids in church and drew a parallel to God. Dad had given me what I really wanted. I just didn’t know it. He'd restored my beloved doll. I believe God, too, gives us what we really need, even though it might not look as we expect.

As I told the story, I passed Mary Ann around and let the kids hug her. (She still likes to be hugged, and sometimes children visiting our home are allowed to hold her.)

My mom was in the congregation the morning I told the story.

When I finished, I looked at her and saw tears in her eyes. She shook her head. "We had no money for anything extra that year."

My dad had been in the hospital for months earlier in the year. Today’s unemployment insurance and other programs either didn’t exist or didn’t provide nearly enough money to live on. By the time he was well enough to go back to work, their savings had been depleted for food and other necessities.

Dad worked at the main Broadway Department Store in downtown L.A., so he had gone through the discard pile at the store and found the wig and clothes. Fortunately, he was clever with his hands and figured out how to fix her eyes and teeth. (I thought my daddy could fix anything. Both my brother and I inherited this ability from him.)

"I have always felt so guilty because we couldn't get you a new doll." Mom wiped her eyes.

I hugged her. “I always considered it one of the best gifts I ever received.”

I believe sometimes God uses our perceived lack to provide for our needs... 

Do you have any stories about how lack brought about abundance? I truly believe it happens—and I have my doll to prove it.

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