When you are little, Christmas is always such a magical time. You bake the cookies, pour the milk, and try to fall asleep so you can wake up to a living room filled with presents! When I was in my Christmas prime, I thought Santa could do wonders! I mean, he did make it to every single house within a few hours, and for my family, he even was kind enough to arrive early when my mom had to work the night shift on Christmas Eve. Some children are fortunate enough to look back on their Christmases and not recall being a twinge disappointed with their gifts (these lucky ones include Albertina and Chelsea!). I am not one of those kids though. When I didn’t receive my most-wished-for gift, I was traumatized to say the least.
Now, there were many things I saw my friends getting that I always wanted, but never received. But those were nothing compared to my love of Log. Are you familiar with it? “It’s log, it’s log, it’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood…it’s log, it’s log, it’s better than bad, it’s good!” So, this Log was a concoction of the series Ren & Stimpy, a spoof product that played like a commercial in-between episodes of the cartoon. It was developed to be a cheeky mockery of the toy industry and I totally fell for it. I was mesmerized with the accessories of “Log for Girls,” the fun the kids had with it, the imagination that made a wooden log so much more. I wished and prayed to find Log under our Christmas tree, complete with the stand, the wigs, lipsticks, and the iconic strand of pearls. If you need an added visual.
Yeah. Well, after opening tons of other presents with wrapping paper covering the living room floor, I was more than dismayed that Log was nowhere to be found! I’m pretty sure I asked my parents where Log was, and my dad said, “we have tons of logs in the firewood pile, why don’t you just go pick one out from there.” Pure devastation. Every year after that fateful Christmas, I expected to see Log under the tree, but it never happened. Now that I’m older, I’ve considering making a Log of my own, but I just don’t think it’d be as fun. For what it’s worth, Log has become quite the family joke at my house. That and grape pie…but I’ll save that for another day.
To this day, whenever I see an American Girl commercial or pass one of their stores, I am still the tiniest bit bitter about the fact that I never got the American Girl doll I so wanted as a little girl. I had a friend who lived a block away who was given a Samantha doll, and we’d often play with her together. I loved everything about the dolls — the ridiculously expensive furniture sets you could buy for them, the outfits, and of course, the books. My neighborhood friend once loaned me a story in which Samantha visits her grandma in ‘town’ and it all felt so chic and sophisticated and I ADORED it. In the story, there’s some incident where they try to make homemade ice cream and accidentally use salt instead of sugar in the base, and my dream was to have my own Samantha doll and make ice cream in our family’s old school churn together.
Alas, it was not to be. I think I asked for an American Girl doll for several years, but my parents were basically always like, “Eh, are you insane? An $80 doll that comes with nothing else?” One look at an American Girl catalog, and it was pretty obvious that the doll itself was just the gateway drug to spending hundreds of dollars in doll sets, dresses, grooming accessories, et al. Now, as I’m much (much!) older and can look back on that time, their hesitation seems perfectly reasonable to me. Especially since I just checked and the dolls now set you back over a hundred bucks!
I will say, as a pretty amazing consolation prize, my father and I worked on building a doll house together around the same time. We picked out paint colors, wallpapered rooms, and found mini furniture for it. It became especially meaningful as he unfortunately passed away not long after we completed it. In hindsight, building something together was far more precious than my parents giving in to my desires for a trendy doll. Aren’t the best gifts always like that?
A few weeks before Christmas and my 9th birthday (my birthday is a week before Christmas), I had an extremely vivid dream that I was walking down the street and found a hundred dollar bill. At that age, even in a dream, that amount of money was a small fortune. So, what did my almost nine year old subconscious do with her newfound cash? Why she headed straight to a toy store and bought the Aladdin and Jasmine barbie dolls of course. I was obsessed with that movie, I’m pretty sure I had every line of it memorized at that point. As soon as I woke up, I ran to tell my mom and sister about the glorious dream I just had. In fact, I’m pretty sure I told everyone I saw that day!
Fast forward to a couple weeks later, Christmas day–presents in front of me, and I’m full of excitement. Surely my mom had given the big jolly dude a head’s up about my dream and how much I wanted those dolls. But once the presents were open, the dolls were nowhere to be found! What the what? Was I not clear enough? Had I not re-told that dream over and over again, like a pesky broken record? Oh, the agony! My young brain was then and there introduced to the pitfalls of high expectations.
A few years later, in a conversation with my mother, I brought up the incident and that infamous dream; I decided to ask her point blank–why she hadn’t indulged and bought me those dolls? “Oh right, those dolls. Well, I went to the store, took one look at the outfits that Jasmine doll came with and decided they were a bit too risque for a girl your age.” Huh? My little heart was crushed because of Jasmine’s exposed navel? Good grief.
My parents were all about low-tech toys, imaginative play, and were so anti-Disney it’s not even funny. Hands down, every year (until I eventually grew out of it), I wanted one of those battery powered four wheel cars you could drive around in your backyard. You know, those two seater cars you could sit in– usually a jeep– that had a max speed of about 5 MPH? I would have killed a kid to get one of those. My parents used to tell me, “we don’t have enough backyard space for it,” and, “it won’t work on our driveway.” Which we all know are all complete lies. LIES.
We had plenty of backyard space, and a top-notch paved driveway (I could have hit 7 MPH on that concrete!). Of course, there was a ‘solution’ to my annual jeep demand– my parents bought me a ‘coup car.’ You know them- the red and yellow plastic cars that you ‘Fred Flintstone powered’ with your feet. But don’t worry, not once did my bratty little twinkle-toes touch the ground…I gave that chauffeur job to my little brother.
So tell me, are you part of the walking wounded who never got their dream Christmas present, or a lucky one who can look back on their childhood without some dramatic regret? Thank you so so much Victoria, Dennise, and Roxanne for humoring my requests and sharing your Christmas story with me and my readers. Your pain is no longer in vain!