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Monday, December 25, 2006 - 2:35 am

Presents are wrapped and under the tree. Cookies, milk, and carrots have been nibbled. Pictures of my beautiful tree and presents (before the unwrapping frenzy) have been snapped. It’s 1:40am, and our daughter is sleeping. I just wanted to say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone.

I took a few moments out to jump on my computer before hitting the sack myself, and started thinking about how many of you are in the same situation right now – exausted and broke, but excited to get to see Christmas through a child’s eyes. Just a lot of looking back, and looking forward tonight for me I guess.

This time of the year means something different for everyone, and no matter what you celebrate, or where you are, every one of us has that one memory that defined the season for us. Guess I’m feeling really sentimental tonight, because I decided to share mine…(well, the other one is about all the cousins sneaking out before midnight mass for a McDonald’s run…but this one here is a bit more cherished)

Thinking back at when I was five (my daughter’s age) and wanting above all else a Cindy doll for Christmas. Not sure where I could have seen it, as window shopping at toy stores was not something we ever really did, and commercials were not as obvious on TV as they are now. I wanted this soft-bodied, plastic head-and-hair doll with a pull string that make crying noises more than ANYTHING. I had never told anyone how badly I wanted this baby doll, because even at five years old, I understood that my family – my mom – couldn’t load up on gifts under our tree.

We lived in an apartment above my grandfather’s house, and we had an artificial white/silver Christmas tree and a cardboard fireplace with something that made the 60 watt lightbulb look like a flickering fire. This was the very first Christmas I have vivid memories of, and even then I knew not to ask Santa for a slew of gifts, because pickin’s were slim for us. My mom always made a big deal out of stocking stuffers (and I still love them). Little Chapsticks, packs of penny candy, toys from Cracker Jack boxes. She understood that it wasn’t the amount of presents or their cost, but how much paper we could rip through that made us happy. Every little item was wrapped in that stocking. Chances are she just knew it would take us longer to open what presents we DID have if she wrapped every little thing in paper. Mom wrapped gifts of Under-roos and socks. Items we needed anyway, not stuff we asked Santa for. There were always toys too, she made sure of it, but always something it seemed I had to share with my little brother. He’ only 13 months younger than me, so we were even easily mistaken for twins back then (the fact that she dressed us in matching outfits did not help!) We had a very strong extended family – still do – and they spoiled us when our mom couldn’t. But this year I had told no one of that baby doll. It was my test to Santa. My parents were divorced at this point, and I really needed something to prove there was magic I suppose.

Under our circa 1975 fake white plastic tree and cardboard fireplace, was a box with MY doll baby in it. My Cindy doll. She had a pink and white polka-dot soft body, a longjohn flap on the backside of her PJ’s with two buttons I got to practice dressing her with, and a pull string that I’m sure I broke within a month of over-use. The doll I told not a soul about, not even on my letter to Santa. That doll was my heart-wish to prove he existed.

And he does.


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