We have recently moved, and in the midst of unpacking, we are finding all sorts of treasures that have been tucked away in storage for quite some time. Most of these treasures, my children have never seen.
For example, we uncovered a vintage Mickey Mouse that is of great sentimental value to my husband. It’s extremely fragile and was a gift from his grandmother. It’s strictly a look, but don’t touch Micky Mouse. They’re heartbroken, of course, that they can’t play with the Mickey Mouse, but I understand as I also have those sentimental items that I would rather not get destroyed.
One thing that was unpacked though, I did not mind handing over.
When I was a baby, my grandmother gave me a Madame Alexander baby doll with strict instructions to my parents to never let me play with it, but to keep it stored out of reach so that it would “be worth something someday.” My dad thought it was totally ridiculous to give a child a toy they can’t play with, and while my mom may have agreed, she complied with the instructions and the doll was hidden away out of sight.
When I was about nine years old, I was rifling through the top of my closet and saw the mysterious blue box. I pulled it down and found what I was sure was the fanciest baby doll I had ever seen. I took her down and immediately cut off the tag so that I could love on her and put it on my bed. I even ran to show my mom my new baby that I couldn’t believe was hiding in my closet.
I was under strict instructions at that point to never, and I mean never, tell my grandmother that I had cut the tags off of that doll. I had, in one moment, taken the value of the doll down to, well, basically nothing. But it didn’t matter to me; she was still perfect.
After some time, the doll went back into the blue box and back into the top of the closet. She’s moved from top of the closet to top of a different closet with me since college.
When I unpacked the storage box that held that blue box, I immediately called Lillian over to me to see what was in the blue box. She opened the box, gasped, and when she said, “Mama, can I play with this fancy doll?” my answer was a wholehearted “YES!”
Yes, please play with the fancy doll.
In my opinion, toys are meant to be played with, not stored out of sight of children as off-limits items so they can “collect value.” Clearly my grandmother needed the movie Toy Story in her life 30+ years ago! As I’m getting older, I also find I don’t want things just to have things – they need a purpose or they need to get out of my life. What’s the purpose of a doll in a box just sitting? There isn’t one.
Since I told her she can play with “the fancy doll,” my daughter has fashioned the baby doll a bed, carried her all around the house, named it, and named me the grandmother!
And I LOVE it all.
The irony to me in this is that the price on that baby doll was originally $150…which in the 1980s seems like a crazy amount of money to spend on a doll…and I’ve found one identical doll on eBay with tags still on it for…$150. Most of the listings are far less than that. So for all of that time as a child when it sat in the top of the closet, I could have played with that doll, and it would not have mattered at all.
I don’t think my daughter is going to ruin the doll, and I don’t think I would be upset if she did. The doll is being played with and loved, and my daughter thinks she got a super-special toy since it was her mama’s. All around, I’d call it a win.