The same Christmas I got Rocky the Rocking Horse, the best Christmas present of my young life, and Monkey, my sidekick(until I left him outside for the dogs to chew up), I got a big hard, plastic baby-doll with molded hair. It came with a bottle, was dressed in pajamas and had exactly one diaper. That diaper was history once Mother demonstrated its amazing ability to pee its diaper. It made me mad when I saw the baby doll, anyhow, since I’d told Mother, “I don’t want a doll. I hate dolls.” The wet diaper was the last straw. I pitched it into the bowels of the toy box to keep company with Tinker Toys, broken crayons, and last year’s despised doll.
Before Christmas this year when Mother asked what I wanted, my list included a live pony, cowboy boots, pistols and holsters and a real monkey in a cowboy suit. My list did not include a doll. Insanely, she had insisted, “But, every little girl has to get a doll. Now what kind do you want?”
Remembering last year’s floppy baby doll, I tried to come up with something I could stomach. I heard girls at school say they wanted a Bride Doll. In my complete disinterest, I forgot exactly what kind of doll to ask for. “Uh, I GUESS a wedding doll would do.” I didn’t want one, but at least it wasn’t a stupid baby doll. When another baby doll showed up under the tree, I was disgusted, thinking I had confused Mother into thinking I wanted a “wetting doll, not a “wedding doll.” Daddy handed me my final gigantic gift from under the tree. Since I’d already gotten Rocky the Rocking Horse as a pony substitute and a stuffed monkey instead of real-live monkey in a cowboy suit, this was my last shot at pistols and a holster set. I ripped into the package, and horror of horrors, discovered a tin tea-set with a Dutch Boy and Girl on a background of blue and yellow tulips. Mother went into raptures over it.
“Oh, I always wanted a tea-set like this when I was a little girl.” Well, if she’d had that tea-set and I had a feather up my butt, we’d have both been tickled to death. Fortunately, I’d learned long ago to keep my mouth shut when I didn’t like presents. Rocky and Monkey and I went on our way, making the best of that Christmas. That tea-set, still in the box, went under my bed.
Months later, one of the neighbors died. I didn’t get to go to the funeral, of course, but my cousin did. It sounded pretty entertaining to me. We decided to stage our own. I scavenged through the toy box and found my Christmas doll and dug the tea-set out from under my bed. Dumping the dishes, I lined the box with one of Mother’s better towels and we prepared the body for burial. My cousin Sue and I conducted the services, complete with plenty of hymns and wailing. My brother Billy and Cousin Troy attended, but only because we promised to provide penny candy afterward. It was a lovely service, the burial site mounded up with gorgeous roses we’d rounded up from the bushes belonging to Mrs. Dick, the seventh-grade teacher who lived next to us. Mother made us return the roses to Mrs. Dick and apologize, though I can’t imagine they’d have been much use to her since we’d snapped them all off right below the head. There would have been enough of them to fill a tub for a romantic rose bath, though I seriously doubt the lady was in the mood judging from the expression on her face when we apologized.