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Wednesday, 09 December 2009

The Doll

By Ronni Prior of Rants By Ronni

In retrospect, it was a pretty cheesy doll. Actually, there were two of them - a bride and a bridesmaid. They stood about two feet tall, in similar dresses – one white with a wisp of veil and the other pink. They stood on display by the check-out in the grocery store and as Christmas approached, the piles of boxes behind them diminished.

Trips to the grocery store were always family expeditions at our house. There was only one car and Mom and I didn't get out much - once a week to the IGA was about it. It was our "poor Christmas " and I had been informed that while prezzies would be at an all-time low, family feeling was going to see us through (dammit!). After all, we had each other and we had our health and we had a chicken for the table and a roof over our heads. All else was gravy.

Nevertheless, I was eight and I couldn't help begging for the doll. It cost $10 - an outrageous sum. I knew I wasn't going to get it and resentment boiled over. Frequently.

Making candles with Mom and cookies and cigarette-pack-foil ornaments for the Christmas tree and paper chains with which to festoon our freezing house did little to dissipate the feeling that I was hard done by. My friend Caroline was in a similar position except that she was one of five children and they were, if anything, worse off than we. She and I whined together.

My dad had a job picking holly for seventy-five cents an hour which was the minimum wage at that time. In order to buy the goodies for Christmas baking, we lived on peanut butter sandwiches, stone soup and powdered milk all through Advent. Mom said it was good for our souls. Those trips to the IGA became more and more depressing.

Christmas Eve, Dad's boss gave him his Christmas bonus - $10! He went straight to the store to get me one of those dolls.

They were all gone except for the two display models. As they were slightly the worse for wear, the manager, on the verge of closing for the holiday, let Dad take them both for that price.

I was given the bride, and Caroline got the bridesmaid.

My faith in Christmas was restored.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


What a wonderful time for such a touching story! Isn't it amazing how history is again repeating itself?
Merry Christmas!

Both pieces just ducky..we did not get a fridge until l954 when I was in the 8th grade & we lived in midtown Manhattan; the same year we got a tv..tub in the kitchen; no sink in the tiny bathroom, which was in the apt..not in the hall as many bldgs still had back then..our birthday cakes were pancake flour with hershey with almonds as icing; the memory is always delicious to me..there are still poor kids, but times have changed..Christmas fondly remembered, but Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday..no gifts to mourn, lots of seeing cousins and relatives & "begging" was still in vogue in the forties, early fifties in nyc, am sure brought from the ol' country.
These writings are wonderful "good mornings!" Thank you...Mary Follett

A child's faith is restored. Your father must have loved you very much because I am sure he had better places for $10 in those days.


What ever brought a little girl more happiness than knowing that her parents cared for her so much that they would spend a much needed bonus on a wonderful Christmas present for her...

He was a lovely man and he did his best, always.

What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

Terrific story. Wonderful memories, all in all. Brings back some of my own good memories too, like how though we were "poor", our Christmas tree always seemed to be overflowing with presents. Because Mom wrapped every new pair of socks separately. And new notebooks or pens for school got wrapped separately for a present. Christmas was basically the time when we'd get new clothes. Where I grew up that was about the time when it would get cold, and Mom would have the sewing machine out after our bedtime working on our new winter wardrobes.

Ronni - Nice story. This would make a great television Christmas special! - Sandy

Tracie, are you sure you didn't live with us?

Sandy, I'd sell the rights in a heartbeat...

Don't know how traditions start, but my sister got a beautiful bride doll for Christmas one year. She named her Brenda. Don't know why, but I do remember hearing talk among the sisters that it was a passage from childhood. Her last doll.
She treasured Brenda, hoping to give her to her daughter one day. The thief cometh...
This wasn't just a girly story. I appreciated it also.

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