The Great Doll Funeral

Vintage baby doll

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.

Rocky and the Great Doll Funeral

Rocky 2I’ve often wondered if bipolar is the normal state of childhood.  Since adulthood, I’ve never experienced the wild exhilaration nor the depths of despair I felt as a child.  As Christmas approached, I’d be wild with anticipation: excitement at Christmas lights, sparkles of snow on Christmas Cards, and the trip to the woods for a Christmas tree had me near hysteria.  By the time I was hustled off to bed Christmas Eve, sleep seemed impossible.  It seemed I’d lie awake for hours, peeking often for a hint of light through the curtains, sure morning must be here.  Finally, we’d wake Mother and Daddy for the most glorious day of the year.  Inevitably, in the way of greedy children, once the joy of dismantling all that had been carefully prepared, I looked at the doll, stuffed monkey, rocking horse, tea set, red sweater, plastic box of barrettes and pearl bracelet from Grandma scattered among the wrappings and thought, “Is this all?  I asked Santa for a pony, not a rocking horse!  I hated dolls and tea sets and had never voluntarily worn a sweater nor brushed my hair.”

I was devastated, feeling I couldn’t go on, till Daddy told me to give Rocky, the Rocking Horse a try.  He was a wonder on springs I could get some real action out of. Rocky and I were quickly moved to the porch where we could bounce without moving the furniture. Monkey and I must have ridden Rocky ten-thousand miles before I outgrew him.  Oh yes, I eventually left Monkey out in the yard for the dogs to chew up. Mother found his dismembered body later but never told me the sad tale.  I thought the doll and tea-set were a total waste till one of the neighbors died and I found out about funerals.  I ditched the dishes and the box made a great coffin.  We had a wonderful service for the doll.  A lovely time was had by all.