Michael stands on the sofa his face pressed to the window glass, “It’s the mailman! Mimmy, It’s the mailman!”
My little one wants to go out and get the mail. A little later, when the UPS truck makes its 3 PM run, he screams, “The UPS truck! Did he bring me a present?”
He loves to bring in the boxes delivered by UPS and FedEx and thinks all boxes are presents for him. My three-year-old great-grandson loves these carriers and goes nuts over seeing them come onto our cul-de-sac or on the road when we are driving. He has made friends with some of the drivers, who honk their horns when they go by our house and wave at him either standing in the doorway or with his face pressed to the window.
Our Christmas tree is more beautiful this year than the year before. I always think so. The room is lit with twinkly lights. Michael’s light hair is awash with the colors of the brightly blinking bulbs, and we, my husband and I, watch him open his gifts. I am excited for when he gets to the stocking and discovers the special trucks I have hidden, tucked in with the candy canes, Hershey Kisses, and big orange in the toe.
He receives so many gifts. As a guardian child, yet still, within our large family unit, he has many who love him. This year we’ve all gone overboard. He will never playfully with all the toys he has received.
Finally, it is time for the stocking. I’m on the edge of my seat and trying desperately to contain myself from instructing him to dump the stocking on the floor. He’s still distracted by all the previous gifts. I coax him back, “Look, Michael”, I say, “Santa left you presents in your stocking!”
The moment has come. I am beaming. I know he will love them, but I must see his surprise and glee. I want him to believe they come from Santa. I don’t want to take the credit because his love of the toys will remind me of how blessed I am.
I am not disappointed. That familiar shout, “The UPS truck! the FedEx truck!” and my favorite, “the mailman!” soon followed. Hugs and kisses exchanged I love you’s. Tomorrow, the mail will run, and Michael will fly to the sofa, mail truck in hand, mess up my sheer panels and press his little face against the glass to watch the truck maneuver the cul-de-sac, and I experience another moment of joy within a very busy day.
Growing up we didn’t have much, but I remember when my sisters and I received our dolls one Christmas. They were all similar except for the hair color. We named them accordingly, Blackie, Blondie, and Brownie.
My doll was Blackie, and her hair was tightly curled, little black ringlets. Her blue eyes fringed in black eyelashes opened and closed. Velvety soft vinyl arms and legs extended from a soft little stuffed body.
When summer came, daddy filled the sandbox with fresh sand and my doll accompanied me out to play. My sisters kept their dolls nice, but mine was worse for wear. I made up all kinds of adventures to include Blackie. We had an upstairs bedroom in which my sisters and I slept, and I would routinely have my Blackie walk the plank out the upstairs window and then run down the stairs and outside and around the apartment building to scoop her up, nurse any injuries, and make sure she was good for the next adventure.
Another wonderful feature my Blackie came with was her thumb and big toe. They were each the right size to fit through the holes on the shelving unit which held our television. On Sundays, while I watched Davey and Goliath, Blackie would dutifully hang from the shelf’s leg near me.
One day, I left Blackie in the sandbox when mama called us in for lunch. When I went out again, my beloved Blackie was nowhere to be found. I remember crying and being filled with anxiety. Mom said a dog had probably picked her up and carried her off. This was the worst news I could ever imagine hearing at my age and as the rest of the day went on, my anxiety grew wondering what was happening Blackie.
When daddy came home, we all went for a walk looking in the woods behind where we lived to see if we could find my doll, but our search was fruitless. We walked the path stepping on high weeds, shuffling through the crunching leaves beneath our feet, and breaking off tiny dead branches in our way all to no avail. Blackie was nowhere to be found and I was heartsick.
Some weeks later, after a shopping trip, my parents came back beaming. They said they had found a Blackie doll for me. How excited I was as I opened the beautifully wrapped gift. I could hardly breathe. Then, there she was, a doll baby with dark curly hair, and eyes that opened and closed. The resemblance to my Blackie ended there. I’m sure my fallen face and cool reaction to the substitute dolly must’ve disappointed them, maybe even hurt their feelings.
The doll had hard plastic legs and forearms and no thumb or toe to hang on the shelving unit as they were made “stuck together”. This was important to my four-year-old self. My parents had tried hard to make my happy and my four-year-old self was pointing out all the things this baby would not be able to do. Pouty Kathryn.
Time does pass, and I did learn to love her. One of her hard plastic legs cracked open and broke and I immediately felt sorry for the doll I had dismissed. I bandaged up her leg and she became my injured baby needing love and attention.
Packed away, in a box in the basement, I still have this doll with her bandaged leg. She is the lone survivor of all the toys that have come and gone in my life.