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.