The haunting of Barbie…

Picture it, it is Christmas time in the mid 80’s. Barbie loving, girlhood me is unwrapping gifts at my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve with my entire extended family, because that’s what we did following our traditional tamales dinner.

I was, at the time, being raised an only child. I lived with my mom and, for argument’s sake, my “step-dad”. Every Saturday, at noon, I went to my grandmother’s house, where I stayed until every Sunday afternoon at 3. This is just the way it was. At my grandmother’s house I had my own toys which were to stay there, my own clothes, which were to stay there. Nothing from place A, was to go to place B, and vice-versa. It was all very joint custody and detached, looking back, but when I was a kid it’s what I knew- it’s just kind of how things were… The one exception being Christmas. On Christmas Eve (though usually there was a lot of complaining, by my mom, about the whole ordeal) we were together as a family at my Grandmothers. My aunt and uncles were there, my cousins were there. It was a really lovely, perfect time. {At least my childhood, rose-colored glasses remember it that way.}

I have significantly veered off course… Sorry about that.

Anyway, this one particular Christmas I opened this amazingly versatile little gem of a Barbie from my grandmother:

barbie day to nightLet’s just say, my mom was not happy.

Apparently she had purchased the same exact Barbie for me, and it was waiting for me at our house, to be opened on Christmas morning because that’s how we still showed our stubbornness, by not fully integrating into the family Christmas held two blocks from our house… Certain that my opening this Day to Night Barbie would ruin everything about our Christmas morning (which she was still very angry about on that Christmas morning, mind you,) Peace was finally achieved when my grandmother apologized for purchasing the doll for me, and took it away.

{side note: I’m sure most people in the room, except me because I was a kid, were thinking “what difference does it make if it would have to stay here anyway, and the other doll would have to stay at your house?” but no one dared utter those words…}

I forgot all about that Barbie. There were other gifts, and maybe I even thought the one I got the next morning was that same one. I don’t know, I was a kid… At any rate, fast forward this story about 20 years…

Our first Christmas with Genny. She was four. We’d had her for just a couple of months and family members were still adjusting to the idea of us having a little girl at all. My grandmother, being of the Great Depression era, wasn’t one to get rid of things. (you absolutely see where this story is going…) So, when a package arrived from New Mexico, bearing a neatly wrapped gift for Gen, we nestled it under the Christmas tree…

For two weeks it sat there, in all of its nativity adorned mystery. On Christmas eve we carried on the tamales dinner tradition and Genny rushed to open the gift from Great Gramma first…

One thing about my sweet girl, she’s never been a paper ripper. She’ opens gifts meticulously, as if there very act of opening them is one she’s grateful for. So, as she’s meticulously opening it I realize, wait a minute… that paper is really, really, really old. Like, from my childhood old. Then, just as I see the pink corner of the box, my hand flies to my mouth.

“It’s a Barbie.” I whispered to Chw. I’m not sure whether to laugh, or to cry. This is this sweet child’s very first Christmas gift in our family and I know in that instant that this Barbie is about to either scare the daylights out of this poor child and ruin our first Christmas, or be a box of foul-smelling dust.

Time has never passed so slowly…

Everything about the gift, from the old school box, to the smell, to the look was not impressive to my four-year old. She was easily let down, but gracious. We tried to put a positive spin on it, but there was no impressing her the way her other gifts did. (thankfully redeeming Christmas to the point that she doesn’t even remember what we lovingly refer to as Zombie Barbie as half of her clothes had rotted away and her briefcase had turned a toxic shade of orange.)

Jimmy Fallon had a hashtag going on twitter about the #worstgiftever, which got us to talking about how, amidst all of our bad gift stories- poor Genny’s first Christmas gift of the Zombie office Barbie really was the worst gift a four-year old girl could ever receive…

{In all fairness, I did ask my grandma about it. She had wrapped it back up the next morning to save for my daughter, someday… Which was beautifully sweet, I thought. Incredibly flawed and not at all the best idea, but very, very sweet…}

 

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