A bit over ten years ago I married the love of my life. It was a simple affair in which my mother made my wedding dress and the dress of my maid of honor (my lovely sister). We bought cute pink dresses for my two nieces and a forest green shirt for my nephew (pink and green were my colors). I loved watching my niece twirl in her dress, and it brought tears to my eyes watching her throw petals as she walked in front of me as I limped up to my waiting groom (I had twisted my ankle the night before).
As the years passed I wondered what happened to that dress. I knew it had been handed down the ranks between the cousins that grew in number through the years. When Emma turned two my sister Stacie sent me a package full of hand me down clothes from her daughters, (as of now she has three daughters and two sons – oh how the years change family dynamics.) I burst out in tears when I pulled THE DRESS out of the box. Every single girl in the next generation now had the opportunity to wear the flower girl dress from my wedding. Oh how Mia loved that dress. She twirled and posed in front of our tree in the front yard.
Unfortunately, my baby grew out of the dress. It sat in her closet, for I had not the heart to donate it. Finally I found a purpose for it. It took quite the willpower to cut into the dress and I was surprised how much of the dress went into a doll skirt. Last night I put the finishing touches on the doll dress and she is now complete. Now she goes in a Christmas bag and hides out for the next month!!!
As I sewed this little masterpiece it brought back memories of my own childhood. My mother started sewing her own wardrobe at the ripe old age of nine, and she is fantastic. She designed everything she wore in high school, her wedding dress, and as her children were placed in her arms she began to sew for us. There are six kids, and I have no idea how she found the time to sew Christmas Eve Pajamas, matching dresses (and outfit for my only brother) for Christmas and Easter, dolls, doll clothes, and even barbie doll clothes. I remember the year that Cabbage Patch dolls became popular. There was no way that my mother was going to be able to buy six dolls on my fathers military paycheck (he was in the Air Force). She began to work on the dolls, in front of us. I remember asking her who the dolls were for. She mentioned they were for a family in our ward (church congregation). At nine years of age I was TOTALLY jealous. My six year old sister didn’t care. She told my mother that she didn’t want a doll for Christmas. She was a bit of a tomboy and dolls weren’t her style. I remember the green eyed monster broiling within me each time my mom started working on a doll. It didn’t dawn on my nine year old brain to count how many dolls my mother made.
Christmas Eve we always opened our PJ’s and another gift under the tree of our choice. I chose the biggest one that year. It was long and wide and squishy. I became excited when it turned out to be a bed cushion, quilt and pillow for my dolls. I ran to my room and grabbed one of my many babies. I tucked her in her new bed and put her under the tree. I wanted to give her the opportunity to see Santa’s visit. The next morning dawned extra early. Why is it that children sleep in every other day of the year, but Christmas morning they are jumping on the parents bed even before the sun has risen? I went looking for my doll, but she was no longer under the Christmas tree. She was lying in a beautifully made doll cradle, surrounded by two other cradles (at that time there were just four girls, our youngest sibling wasn’t to join our family for another seventeen days and we weren’t sure if she was a she or he). My grandfather had crafted these beautiful cribs that rocked and everything. Oh, my then six year old sister Joan became rather tearful when she noticed there wasn’t one for her. She had been adamant, even Christmas Eve, that she DID NOT WANT A DOLL. Oh, how she raged at that wish. I’m not sure how long my mother let her stew in her sorrow before she pulled out the crib with home made cabbage patch doll tucked safely inside (It has been over thirty years since we got those gifts and my now thirty six year old sister still hasn’t forgiven my mother for her duplicity). As for myself, I picked up my little soon to be dubbed Amy and held her close to my heart. She was a newborn with a tuft of red yarn hair on top, and realized that my mother had tricked us. Those dolls weren’t for another family of girls, they were for us. The doll and crib remained a treasured pair for years to come. At eighteen I moved out of my mom’s house and didn’t have room for them. They went into storage with all my other childhood momentos (Cabbage Patch collection, Nancy Drew Books, Trixie Beldon books, and music box collection). Unfortunately five years later my mothers storage shed burnt to the ground and all I have left of Amy and the crib are my cherished memories.
I brought my mothers trickery into play this past month as I worked on my daughters doll. Each time she would ask if the doll was for her I would tell her, “Nope, she is for your sister Erin (Name changed).” Now Emma doesn’t have a sister, but last year she spent a month with my mother in Seattle while I went to a behavior therapy workshop with Chase. During that month she became quite attached to her her cousin and although she hasn’t seen her cousin for over a year she still refers to her as her sister.
Are there any dolls, clothes, etc that have been passed through your family? I would love to hear your stories as well!