First Christmas Memory

That Christmas my grandmother bought me my first doll, a beautiful porcelain thing in white satin and lace, with blonde curly hair.

We were at my grandparents' farm in Iowa. There was a coal-burning stove - I remember my grandfather carrying in the cobs and coal. Cobs, because I suspect they burned corn cobs too. I seem to remember the room and the tree and boxes in the middle of the floor, and my parents and grandparents sitting in a semi-circle, their eyes riveted on me, their one beloved child. My sister was still a year away. Not to mention the four boys.

The rest of it has been a family story told so many times, I only think I remember it. And yet, I can conjure up the scene today, and I cringe a little inside. I was told that Grandma couldn’t wait to see my face when I saw the present. But when I finally tore off the wrappings and opened the box, I threw the doll aside, and played for hours with the tissue paper.

I loved my grandmother, and even now the thought of her excitement and anticipation and delight in giving me that doll fills me with remorse for the cruel apathy with which I received it. It’s one of the things I would have done differently. I would have been socially sensitive at two.