So. One Christmas. Can’t remember how old I was. Some age below puberty. I wanted a Barbie Dream Cottage. The one with the elevator.
My mom had made a dollhouse years ago out of cardboard and leftover scraps. It was amazing! It had furniture and everything. It wasn’t very big, but the time and effort she put into it was much appreciated. We wore it out and tore it up.
But now. A few years later. I wanted a big-girl Barbie Dream Cottage. The real deal. And she got it.
She put it in her closet. In plain sight. The box was so big that you could just walk in their room and see the bright-white box gleaming from the closet shelf. Even if she would have wrapped it, I would have known what I was getting. Subtlety had been
prison-stabbed a long time ago in this family.
So. I saw it. Probably a week or more before Christmas. When I saw it, I immediately started begging my mother to let me open it early.
Please, please, please. *Heavy breathing and groaning*
I just had this deep, deep anxiety, anticipation, worry, eagerness. If I didn’t get the cottage now, I will have wasted all of this Christmas vacation play time.
Kids have several days off before Christmas. Sitting at home. Waiting for Christmas to arrive. Swallowing their excitement over and over like big gulps of air until they hyperventilate on Christmas. It’s completely and totally insane.
While adults are preparing the food, and the tree, and the food, and the presents, the food and the food, and the nog, and the food. Kids are watching TV, filling their gobs with bon-bons, hopefully running in and out of the snow and shaking presents like Polaroid pictures.
What did she expect? From me? Slobberbox McWhiny-Pants?
Please. Please. Pleeeeease.
I could tell she was upset and very disappointed. Frustrated. Mad. She hated my lack of self-control in that moment. I know she did.
But she left me have it. (LOL, oh boy, did she left me have it) On one condition. No, and I mean no, help in putting it together.
I ran to the closet. I tore that box open like a box of Twinkies. Laid out all the parts and started assembling. I looked at the instructions briefly, but intuitively knew what went where. Mostly. I got to a point where something had to be screwed.
I knew where the screwdriver was and I ran to get it. I started screwing that Barbie cottage up. Royally.
Something went wrong and I put the wrong screw in the wrong hole or screwed it too far or something. I warped the heavy plastic on the roof and it turned a lighter shade of orange. Some parts had to be taped. Scotch tape. But I put it together.
I was mildly disappointed. But at the same time thrilled and slightly proud of myself for wrestling my mother into a rarely-achieved coup, putting together a complex gift, and to be immediately playing with my new toy before Christmas. I was the only one with a gift! Ha!
That pride and newness quickly waned. When Christmas finally arrived, I had lost any thrill and was jealous of those receiving presents and I had none to open.
I learned a hard lesson that day. One that my mother was willing to teach me. Best to wait. Wait for help. Wait for others. Enjoy each moment, with or without a gift. Wait for joy. It’s better when you wait. Or! Joy is not in receiving a gift, joy is found in obedience, patience and self-control. Restraint is its own reward.
But I had that Barbie Dream Cottage until I was 15? I hadn’t played with it for years, but I held on to it. It was the most expensive thing I owned, to that point. Ha. Then I gave it to another little girl.