SO MUCH MORE THAN
WE COULD EVER ASK FOR
I was seven years old. Cabbage Patch kids had just hit the market and were the most coveted item for girls my age. But, for me, there was also, the Ice Cream Dolls. These dolls, not as well known as Cabbage Patch dolls, were every bit as adorable! They had these oversized heads, were about 2 feet tall, and had ice cream cone necklaces around their necks. They had this sort of rag doll clothing and smelled sooo good, but I digress...
It was the day after Halloween, 1982. I got off the bus at Spring Street and walked down Greenwood Street to my house. It was one of those amazing fall days in Wakefield. Cold, but nice. Breezy, but calm. I made my way down the street and began practicing my pitch to Santa...
."Sir, I'd really like a Cabbage Patch or an Ice Cream doll for Christmas this year."
"No", I thought, too formal.
How about " Santa, can I pretty pretty pretty please have a Cabbage Patch or Ice Cream doll? I have been good all ...., wait...that is lying to Santa...Okay, I have been good since Tuesday and the stuff before that I already told my CCD teacher, so I think I'm in the clear on those. Anyhow, Santa, I'm a pretty good kid, I clean my room, do my homework, always tell my Mom when my little brothers are doing something wrong, really, every time they mess up, my mom can count on me to tell her, I'm honest like that. I just helped my mom put in all the storm windows on the porch last week too."
Well, that's it, I'm just about home now.
I stepped into my house, and my mom was sitting in her usual spot, the kitchen table straight ahead. She had her CVS memo pad out and was crossing off her to dos and preparing grocery lists. As I approached the table, I glanced down and had a second to think how funny it was that my mother had on her work nylons and her open toed slippers. I sat down and said,
"Ma, does Santa really read our lists?"
"Of course.", she replied.
"But, Ma, does he give really special things even if someone isn't that special?"
She put her Bic pen down, and looked at me quizzically.
" What do you mean? I'm sure he thinks you are special...so, you probably aren't talking about yourself right?"
I replied, "Well, yah, I am,... so, here is the thing, I want a cabbage patch kid or an ice cream doll and I can't decide which, but both are really really wicked awesome. Patti said Santa can bring one or the other.
Do you think Santa could ever get me one of either one of those?"
My mother paused, and replied " We can write to him and ask him, but, honey, I think he may be short on elves and may have a hard time getting, I mean, making both."
"But, I can still write down one or the other on my list right?", I asked.
"Sure, do that." she replied. " Oh, and I already cleared the decks down here, take your schoolbag upstairs with you."
As I complied, I thought "it would be perfect if an elf was looking in right now at me listening to my mom!". I headed towards the stairs and looked back just long enough to see her flipping through her memo pad and writing down something on a blank sheet. That is my mum, always working on something! I spent the next half hour watching the Brady's. The one where Mrs. Brady loses her voice before the Christmas performance. But, Carol Brady was far from my thoughts...Cabbage Patch or Ice Cream Doll...hmmmm. Which did I want more? I can't decide! This went on and on, Red Ryder bee bee gun style for another eight weeks.
Flash forward a couple months, night before Christmas.
My parents send us off to bed with the stern reminder
" You cannot get your gifts until you see the sun. Santa may not be finished giving you gifts, and we need to check downstairs first."
But, you can bet the second there is even a sliver of sun, we will be up and in my parent's room. I wake up a little before the sun does and sit there sort
of wondering about Santa's final decision and how just 10 feet under exactly where I am laying, there is either, a Cabbage Patch Kid or an Ice Cream doll. I think back to my conversation with my mother. I think,
"Does Santa think I'm special enough to get one of these?"
My mom says so, but...well, she's my mom, she has to say that.
A few more minutes pass and I do believe I see a slice of sunlight.
We know the drill, we need to wake up my parents first because, they have to go downstairs and make sure Santa is gone. So, we tip toe in to their room. First thing I see, my Dad's feet. He moves them in his sleep, it's so funny. We all do the quiet laugh and start the jabbing and tapping.
"Ma, Dad, get up, its morning!".
In a few minutes my mom is up heading off to get her morning armor, her zip up bathrobe. Once that is on, there is no turning back, she is definitely getting up. My dad gets up too.
"Stay here, we have to be sure Santa is all done and gone."
So, we sit on the top step, the entire time Christopher trying to squeeze his way in. This is too important, we don't even acknowledge him, but just send a smack back his way and say
"Shhhh, they are checking for Santa."
We wait, and wait. I hear the clock chime on the quarter hour. I hear the coffee pot start.
"Hey, what does coffee have to do with checking for Santa?"
Then the oven door opening...that is my mom's back up furnace for the kitchen. She would turn up the heat to like 400 degrees and crack the door a little. I'm thinking if the floor is too cold...maybe get closed toe slippers? But that's just me I guess.
We sit, and start leaning over, but not leaving the upstairs as we were told. Leaning, leaning, stretching, "Tara, hold Danny's feet so he can stretch down to see." Just as I'm about to enforce this yoga pose, we hear,
"Okay....all set, come on down!"
Each step like an eternity, not minimized by the fact that we are all pushing each other so much that it actually slows us down! Half way down, I pause,
"Please God, let Santa have sent me one of my dolls, please God. "
Two more steps.
"God, please, I've done all my school home- okay, I've done most of my homework, and have been good"
Three more steps.
Now, on the landing. Brothers in the way.
"You guys GO!"
Two more steps.
Down onto the flagstone; watch out for the chipped one and into the living room.
Now, Santa wraps presents for some families, but, for we Carroll's, he "presents" the presents. All is on display, things set up, toys posed as if in action. I look around, so much to take in. And then, there they are.
Yes, THEY! Where I had been visualizing what a Cabbage Patch or Ice Cream doll would look like, sat a much more crowded scene.
CABBAGE PATCH DOLLS AND
ICE CREAM DOLLS!
Seriously??? Seriously. I just had to stand there and take it in. I noticed some other cool stuff, but am in shock at what I am seeing.
"Ma, oh my gosh....Ma Ma! Did you see? Santa brought a whole bunch of THEM!"
She smiled from her spot on the end of the couch.
"Ma, seriously, look, get up....LOOK! No, get up! You have to see!"
So, she does. She glances over at my father who stands in the doorway just sort of taking it all in. He is rubbing his hands together silently calculating how many parts some of these toys have in assembly.
She comes closer. She looks barely surprised and says,
"Wow! Santa brought more than one! I wonder why he did that? "
"Well Ma", I say all puffed up, "He thinks I'm a good kid, you know, I am pretty good you know. Santa rules!"
"Well, Lady Jane, Good kids only get what they ask for."
She smiles and heads back to the couch. She sinks down into the spot already carved out in her shape. Perched on the end, cozy in her zip up bathrobe and open toe terry cloth slippers, she says,
"But, really special ones get more than they even knew to ask for."
She sat there a while longer, leaning to one side at the end of the couch. She would sit like that a bit, with this sort of appreciation grin on her face.
She held that look a bit, and then quietly got up, turned up the thermostat for the sixth time, and headed in search of her cup of coffee.
Flash forward 25 years and I sit here writing. She will never know what that Christmas meant to me. I always thought we were pretty good kids. But, in hindsight, we must have been something really truly special to her. Good kids do get things they ask for, but, it's the really loved ones that get a mom who goes above and beyond and trumps our biggest dreams.
And then, I think about our heavenly father. He gives us more than we deserve every single day. He gives when we are undeserving, unfaithful, and ungrateful, yet He keeps on giving. His daily presents aren't used up ones he no longer wants, every day He gives us his most prized possession, his son. And tomorrow, when we wake up, He'll do it all over again.
May you be filled with love, surrounded by blessings, and keep your eyes open to always see how they are freely offered every day. My father had it right. we won't be able to see our gifts until we see the Son.
We are so blessed that every day is truly Christmas. Let's live like we know that.
I am currently living in Milford, NH with my husband John, and our three children, Caroline, Maggie and Jacob. I am currently a fourth grade teacher. We have recently moved back to New England, and I thank God every day for the blessing of being close to my family.
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