Christmas 1957. I was eight years old. That was the year of the Bride Doll and also the year I discovered the truth about Santa Claus. I lived in a very small town called Hayden, Arizona. At that time, there was a general store in the center of town near the elementary school. Each afternoon on the way home from school, I would rush inside and check out The Bride Doll.
Over the years I've written several short vignettes about different Christmas' in my life. Beginning today and going through Christmas, I'll periodically post them in no particular order. Today's vignette takes place in 1957.
The Bride Doll was the most important dream of my young life. She was two feet tall dressed in a bride dress composed of layer upon layer of white lace. She had short curly blonde hair and a veil. The display box was high up on a shelf so that you could see her the minute you entered the store.
Every afternoon, I rushed inside to check that she was still there. At the time, I don’t think I realized that the store would naturally have more than one in stock. I was sure that as long as The Bride Doll was in the store on Christmas Eve, then Santa would bring me my dearest wish…The Bride Doll.
One afternoon as I trotted down the sidewalk after school, I saw my mother standing by our car in front of the store. Now in those days, kids did not ride in the front seat. The front seat was reserved for grown ups. So when my mother asked if I wanted a ride home, I naturally yanked open the back door even as my mother yelled, “No!”
And lo and behold, there was The Bride Doll on the back seat.
I was dumbfounded. What was The Bride Doll doing in my car? It says much about innocence of that era that it never even occurred to me that my mother had bought it. All I could think was, “Why did Santa bring my doll when it wasn’t even Christmas?”
Well, we rode home in silence. Then, my mother took me by the hand and led me into the kitchen where we proceeded to have milk and cookies while she explained how Moms and Dads were Santa’s helpers. It was vague enough that it took me two more years to finally get it. She explained that my brothers didn’t know about how Moms and Dads helped Santa so I would have to pretend to be surprised.
Pretending and having secrets was almost as exciting as knowing that The Bride Doll would be mine on Christmas Day. I dragged that poor doll around for years. As a matter of fact, fifty years later, she’s still stashed in my spare room. I’m afraid that she’s a bit worse for the wear, but my granddaughters still love her anyway. Her bride dress is long gone. At the moment she has a sailor dress. I keep thinking that I’ll find time to make her a new dress but I haven’t done it yet.
A little over two years later, my mother died. I wonder what she’s thinking now as she peeks down from Heaven? Is she shaking her head over that bedraggled dolly? Probably so.
The picture is my mom and grandpa, now gone many years. Oh, and that's me clutching my Bride Doll.