It seems like every year there is a new toy that comes out that every kid absolutely needs. The stores cannot keep these items on the shelves and parents intent on getting the toy will do almost anything to capture one for their child at Christmas Time.
In the early to mid eighties that toy was the infamous Cabbage Patch Doll. These were cloth dolls in which none two looked alike. The idea was to find one that resembled your child as closely as possible so that they can , well, have themselves for Christmas I guess. The demand for these dolls were so high I heard of some parents giving hundreds of dollars for a Cabbage Patch doll whether it looked like their child or not.
The Cabbage Patch Doll phenomenon came at about the time that we adopted our son, Brett. There was not much of a chance of us getting one and we certainly could not afford to go the black market route and pay hundreds of dollars for one. It was with this in mind that Barb set about on her labor of love.
She decided that she would make a Cabbage Patch Doll for Brett's Christmas. She set about studying the pictures of the dolls and soon had a plan on how she was going to accomplish this task. She began working and worked on it almost every spare minute she had. The doll would be dressed in a similar outfit to the kind that Brett wore. It would have his brown eyes and his blond hair that stuck straight up from his head. I must admit I had my doubts as to whether she could pull this off or not.
She finally finished the doll a few days before Christmas. She did a fantastic job on it. It looked and felt like a Cabbage Patch Doll and looked a lot like a miniature version of our son. She boxed it up and wrapped it to be placed beneath the Christmas tree. Now all she had to do was hold in her excitement until the day came when Brett would open this box and hug himself in doll form and be the happiest kid on the block. I think she was ten times more excited about Christmas then I have ever been, which isn't saying a lot. Christmas and me do not get along well. I must admit though that I was pretty anxious to see Brett's reaction to the doll and then see Barb's reaction to Brett's reaction.
The day finally arrived. We did all the preliminary stuff that tradition holds for us to do at Christmas. First we had to go through the stockings. The wait was starting to cause Barb to agonize over how long we were taking for each little thing. I don't blame her though. I knew how much love and hard work she had put into that doll. She was getting very anxious to see the fruits of her labor.
Finally it came time for Brett to open the precious package. It had been wrapped with the same loving hands that had created the little boy inside the box. As I write this I am having flashes of a Pinocchio type story coming along. Not to worry my dear reader. This is not going where Pinocchio went.
Brett slowly unwrapped the package as was his standard method of operation. He always careful tore one piece of wrapping paper off and hand it to either Barb or myself. I was proud that Barb just didn't grab the box out of his hands and unwrap it for him to speed up the process. She waited though and eventually the box was revealed and ready to be opened.
Brett opened the box and I could see the excitement in Barb's eyes as she waited for his reaction. His reaction was a far cry from what either of us could ever imagine. As Barb held up the doll in front of him he took a small step backwards. His finger went up to his mouth and he looked at it with wary eyes. The eyse turned from wary to scared then to absolute fright.
"PUT.... IT.... BACK" Brett demanded as he pointed at the box. Barb tried to explain to him that it was a doll for him to play with. "PUT... IT... BACK!!" he stressed once again and throwing his hand with his finger pointing out to the box. Barb showed him that it was a lot like him. They had the same eyes and the same hair, why he was even wearing clothes like Brett was wearing. "PUT.... IT BACK!!!!!" Brett ordered with his voice a little louder and a little more anxiously. Barb's face dropped. I was stunned at Brett's reaction. I felt sorry for Barb but in my own little way I was amused as well. It would not be a good thing to let Barb see my amusement though so I kept a straight face and decided that I would give it a try to talk Brett into accepting the doll.
I held the doll gently and tried to show Brett how neat this thing was. "PUT IT BACK... PUT IT BACK... PUT IT BACK!!!!!" Brett almost screamed. This was not going to happen, not today anyway. This doll was freaking him out.
Over the next few days we tried to get the doll out and give it to Brett and talk him into accepting it. Each time was met with the same demand from his little voice. "PUT IT BACK!!!" And the doll would be put back in the box and set aside until the next day. Eventually it was Barb and I who learned to accept the fact that the doll was not going to happen. We decided that later when he was a little older we might try to give it to him again. I had my doubts as to whether this would work because Brett seemed to be somewhat traumatized over seeing himself in doll form.
Eventually Barb gently put the doll in a plastic bag and put it up on the shelf in Brett's room. We dare not show Brett where it was or he may not be able to sleep at night. The doll laid up on the shelf past his birthday. It was still there the next Christmas and his next birthday.
The other day I looked up on that shelf in the closet where Brett use to reside and I saw a plastic bag with a blond haired doll tucked safely inside of it. I imagine it will stay there for quite a few years more and maybe when the time comes that Barb and I are gone and Brett is going through our things int he house, he may come across Barb's great labor of love. Perhaps he will cherish it. Perhaps he will put it back. There is no way of knowing if Brett will ever get over freaking himself out like he did that Christmas so many years ago.