Editor's Notebook

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Kathryn Compton, Editor

Mom showed love with dolls, dresses

When I was little, there was no way you could have convinced me that my dolls weren't real. I knew their personalities, I knew their tastes, and I knew I was in good company when they surrounded me. I didn't have an abundance of dolls, because my family didn't have an abundance of money. But every Christmas I got at least one doll, sometimes two. Mom always intended Santa Claus to bring only one doll, but if she, on Santa's behalf, bought a doll that was nice to look at but not soft, she couldn't help herself: She had to go back and get us a sweet baby doll as well.

One year, she gave my sister, Donna, and me matching dolls. They had the desired effect when Donna and I burst into the living room on Christmas morning and saw them under the tree. Our enthusiastic delight dampened when we picked them up and discovered that they were stiff as boards and all they did was walk. Happily, at the back of the tree were a couple of bundles that turned out to be our new babies - complete with bottles, diapers and all the gear infants require. 

We hugged them and rocked them and sang to them; fed them and burped them and changed their diapers. Little did I know that they were Mother's way of planting the seeds of grandchildren in her future.

The only non-baby dolls I recall loving were our little Madame Alexander dolls. We didn't have an assortment like some of my friends had. Just one doll apiece, a brunette for Donna, a blonde for me. But each year for Christmas, and throughout the year whenever she felt inspiration, my mother made tiny clothes for our tiny dolls.

When I look back at the detail she put into these miniature fashions, I'm simply amazed - little fur caps and matching capes with braid and frog clasps, nurses' uniforms, pretty party dresses, formal gowns. I know now that the dolls were as much for Mother as for Donna and me - an outlet for her abundant creativity and also maybe a way she could have in miniature the wardrobe she wished she could see in her closet. The intricate, lovely fashions were also a means for a woman challenged by the mushy stuff to say, 'I adore you, my sweet daughters.' Now that I've realized this, I will always carry that communication in my heart.

Happy holidays to each of you. May your lives be merry and bright.

Kathryn