Thursday, December 24, 2015
Christmas Presents I Remember, Part IV: The Doll House
The Christmas I was seven, I had my heart set on the most beautiful tin dollhouse in the Simpsons-Sears catalogue. It wasn’t one of those old-fashioned two-story houses open in the front, either. Mine was a ranch style, with a roof that lifted off so you played with it from above. The curtains and carpets were lithographed on; the plastic fireplace, doors, and window frames snapped into place; and it came with a complete set of trendy plastic furniture. Beside the house stood a doll family consisting of dad, mom, sister, and baby brother–sold separately. For weeks I stared at the page, planning how I would arrange the furniture and which dolls would sleep in which room.
I thought I’d never survive the wait. Christmas morning, it seemed my little heart would beat right out of my body when I opened that dollhouse. I can’t remember which parent or sibling helped me put together the “some assembly required” house, but what a joy to behold when at last it looked just like the picture on the box. I artfully placed the furniture, and it was finally ready for my doll family to move in.
But alas. The sold-separately doll family did not exactly fit their new home, even though they posed so optimistically beside the house on the same catalog page. Not only were they too large to walk through the doorways, sit on the chairs, or sleep on the beds, they came with a piece of paper telling us how to order a family that would fit the house. The correct sized family was not to be found in the catalog at all.
What a rip-off. My sense of injustice and my tendency toward impatience both kicked in. I figured I’d show them a thing or two by playing with the oversized dolls anyway. I crammed their bodies into the chairs and allowed them to vault over the door frames. Poor things probably didn’t sleep much with their feet hanging off the ends of the beds like that, but then how much sleep could they get anyway with their shoes permanently on?
I managed to put in many happy hours over the next couple of years, but somehow my magnificent gift always felt a little tainted. I guess it was one of my first lessons in the greedy world of retail.
Although my beloved house eventually rusted and ended up in the trash, I recently saw the same model on a collector’s web site in all its glorious detail. I studied the photos of each room and let the memories sweep over me. The chart said this house sold for $6.99 in 1965 and would sell for $130 today. They made no mention of dolls, proportionate or otherwise.
Years later I would find it a little ironic that I spent 26 years of my adult life living in a tin house. I appreciated our mobile home most of the time, but it certainly did not increase in value and I often longed for a “real” house, with a foundation beneath and a garage nearby. Now I have that, and I love it. But even if I did not, it would be okay. You see, the baby in the manger grew to be a savior who would seal my eternal destiny. The most talented carpenter who ever walked the planet is preparing a home for me. The One who paints the sunset is choosing the colors. I don’t know what it will be made of, how large it will be, or how it will be furnished. But I do know this: I am going to fit! It’s going to be absolutely, completely, 100 percent custom-designed for me by the One who made me and knows me better than I know myself. And best of all, He will be there too! Now that’s a Christmas present worth waiting for.