Saturday, December 7, 2013

No Shakin', Pokin', or Peekin'!

Some of us are naturally patient, following some Christmas moral code about not sneaking around before the holidays, discovering holiday delights before the appointed moment. I was not one of these saints as a child, and my sneaky habits continued well into adulthood.  

I took great delight in finding the Christmas hiding places each year. The family room closet? The skeleton key was above the old wooden door jamb. The locked motor home? Check the key hooks by the back door. With a family of eight kids, Mom felt it necessary to put her holiday goodies under lock and key. When her Christmas cookie and candy stash had obviously been dwindling, she would ask who had been stealing the goodies. I always confessed; I was a thief, but I was an honest thief.

Some of my sweetest memories as a little girl were in the wee hours of the morning on Christmas day. Inevitably, I would discover mom in the kitchen, working diligently on MORE holiday goodies and last minute preparations. I recall one time I padded into the warm kitchen in my footed pajamas, wiping my bleary eyes, but getting more excited by the moment.

Before entering the kitchen, it was with great joy I noticed there had been additions to the Christmas tree since I had gone to bed. Since mom was going to know I was out and about, I decided to ask permission to look. She stopped what she was doing, dried her hands, and knelt by the tree with me, as I oohed and ahed over all of the delights that Santa had left during his visit. That year I received my very first camera, a Kodak Instamatic with the disposable flash cubes. I also recall shaking packages one afternoon when I was left to my own devices, and accidentally pushing too hard on a long rectangular package when lo, and behold, a Barbie's hand poked out of the giftwrap. I fixed it the best I could with some Scotch tape. Luckily for me, no one else was investigating things under the tree like I was, so my parents were none the wiser.

There is one Christmas memory that holds some shame for me. Let me apologize to my little brother Danny one more time.

We were living in the small brick ranch house on Kenmore Road in Amherst, Virginia. I must have just turned five, so Danny would have been nearly three. I was somewhat of a tomboy, in those days; I would rather play veterinarian than house, and if I were going to play with dolls, they had to be boys. I always chopped off my dolls' hair, and requested mom make them some pants so they wouldn't have to be embarrassed to wear those ridiculous frilly dresses that came with them.  

This particular holiday in 1965, I had told Santa I wanted a Tubsy doll. Yes, she was a girl, but she could get in the tub, and splash in the water. I LOVED water, and taking baths, so I thought I would make an exception in Tubsy's case, and ask for a girly doll.  

Suffering from Christmas Eve insomnia, I crept out of bed in the middle of the night to see if Santa had come. My parents had probably barely fallen into an exhausted slumber, so I was safe to have the joint to myself.  

I tiptoed downstairs to the basement. The family room was illuminated the big, fat, colorful light bulbs on the fragrant pine tree. And there she was:  my very own Tubsy!  I dumped my stocking, ate a piece of candy, and then put the contents back into the fuzzy, red stocking with the white fringe.  

One of the surprises in my pile was a life-sized Raggedy Ann. She was as tall as I was! Now I had already met my quota for girl dolls this year. I was amazed at the sheer size of her, but she was not a BOY, and therefore, could not have been meant for me. I didn't ask for her, and Santa would have known I usually only like boy dolls, but wait! What did my little eyes spy on the other side of the tree? A matching Raggedy ANDY in Danny's pile. A great big BOY doll.  

I know I shouldn't have, and even felt a twinge of guilt as I did it, but who would ever know? Danny was little; he wouldn't care. And Santa was too busy to come back to see if I were still being a good, little girl. I took a big breath, and I did it. I switched the dolls. I was so happy. I now had the biggest boy doll in the world, and all was right with the world. I quietly scurried back upstairs to try to sleep until it seemed like a more appropriate time to wake the rest of the family to see what Santa had brought.

When we stepped into the family room, I took Danny by the hand, dragging him toward his pile under the tree. "Danny, LOOK!  Look what Santa brought you...a great, big Raggedy Ann. Isn't that GREAT?" My parents were dumbfounded, but what could they say?  

My mom stared at me, wide-eyed, as I got busy showing Danny all of the WONDERFUL things Santa had brought us. I could feel her glare, but I was the only one who had known what I'd done. I tried hard to avoid her gaze.

"And Danny, look! Santa brought me a Raggedy Andy. We can play together. Sometimes I will even let you play with my doll, if you want!"

If my parents had pushed the issue, the validity of Santa would come into question. I'd done it. I'd pulled off the big switcheroo! And my poor brother was now the confused, albeit not proud, owner of his very own Raggedy Ann. The memory of my deception haunts me to this day. Again, I'm sorry, Danny. You were two. Hopefully, you don't even remember this particular bad big sister incident, but if you do, I'll try to make it up to you. 

I wonder if I it's too late to order you a big Raggedy Andy of your own...


  1. I read this on my phone the day you posted it, but can't leave comments until I'm at my computer ... this is TOO FUNNY! Your poor brother!! I have a few stories like that with my baby bro. Fond memories!!!

    1. How did our brothers put up with us? My brother, after reading it on our family's private FB page posted, "This explains a lot."

  2. So instead of Clown torturing you in your dreams it is big bad Raggedy Ann dolls pointing fingers and crying because they were traded to a BOY? This is too funny. I was the youngest so never got the joy of tormenting a younger sibling. Great story.


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