76: The Barbie Christmas

76: The Barbie Christmas

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Christmas

The Barbie Christmas

Children make you want to start life over.

~Muhammad Ali

My five-year-old granddaughter, Anna Grace, was sitting on a child’s wooden bench in my living room and staring at the decorated Christmas tree. It was most unusual for her to be silent. She hadn’t said a word in an hour and I was wondering if she was okay. Her big blue eyes were larger than ever.

Finally, she turned to me and said, “GG, why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because I wanted to surprise you.”

“Where did you get all the Barbies?” she asks. “And all the pretty dresses?”

“I was shopping at Goodwill. Someone dropped off fourteen Barbies in pretty dresses. I thought they would be beautiful on a Christmas tree and you would love it. I decided to search for more after that.”

After discovering the first fourteen dolls, I kept looking for secondhand Barbies in party dresses for the Christmas tree. At Salvation Army and Southern Thrift, I found more dolls and plastic bags filled with sparkling clothes to dress the Barbies we already had. My plan fell into place. I had a variety of forty Barbies ready for the tree — all dressed beautifully.

Anna Grace enjoyed the tree throughout the Christmas season. At year’s end she was delighted to take it down. She placed the Barbies in a line on the floor, counting each one. It was time to play with the best Christmas decorations ever.

Anna Grace played with the Barbies for hours. We dressed and undressed them, cut and styled their hair, named them, and went on imaginary adventures with them. They were swimmers, gymnasts, shoppers, and explorers. They had Ken dolls to escort them to fancy parties or the beach. I don’t know which one of us had more fun playing with our collection of thrift store Barbies.

Months later, Anna Grace said, “GG, I have beautiful Barbies somewhere at my house, but these thrift store Barbies are the ones we played with the most.”

It’s been eleven years since the Barbie Tree Christmas. Our family and friends still talk about it. Now, the Barbies wait in their pretty dresses, tucked away in tissue-lined boxes. A few will be selected for a small Christmas tree. It’s a grandmother’s tradition and a story I’ve told over and over and over.

~Gloria Hudson Fortner

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