From Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul

Of Yellow-Haired Dolls and
Ugly Clay Bowls

A few months before my wedding, my mother and I were breezing through all the details that go along with planning a large wedding. My fiancé, on the other hand, was happily making our honeymoon arrangements. Dennis and I saw each other only on weekends, and we were looking forward to our two-week wedding trip. About three weeks before our wedding, my parents moved into their newly built log home, where I shared a room with my younger sister. I spent what weeknights I could rooting through the boxes we’d moved from the old farmhouse, deciding what was my sister’s and what I should move to our new apartment. Twenty-three years of nostalgia awaited me each evening. I opened box after box filled with high school yearbooks, 4-H ribbons, kites made from construction paper, paper-plate seed-shakers and crayon drawings. And at the bottom of one box, I’d discovered a homely brown clay bowl that only a child could have fashioned and only a mother could have loved. I couldn’t remember making the bowl, so I assumed it was my sister’s.

When my sister entered the room, I held up the lumpy clump and confidently announced, “Here, Sharon, this is yours.” She grimaced and denied ever seeing the clay vagrant. But I was sure it was hers. So after she left the room, I slipped it under her pillow, a subtle way of saying, This really is yours!

She grinned the next morning at the practical joke, and I headed off to work—only to find the bowl in my purse at lunch. That night, I put it in her high school backpack where I hoped she would be forced to pull it out in front of all her friends. We spent the next week trying to outwit each other until last-minute wedding details took my attention.

A few days before the wedding, my sister approached me, towing a child’s doll along by the foot. The doll stood about two-feet high and had straw-yellow hair. I’d never seen it before. She simply said, “Here, Gail, this is yours.” I told her it didn’t belong to me, and even if it did, I’d have no use for it now and certainly wouldn’t care to hand it down to a daughter if and when that time came. In other words, she could keep it. She walked away, and I completely missed seeing the mischievous twinkle in her eyes.

Our wedding day dawned bright and beautifully warm for early April. The church was full, my sister stood beside me as a bridesmaid, and we danced our hearts out at the reception. As the last few guests said their good-byes, I went from table to table with my mother gathering the fresh flowers for her and me. Dennis and I stopped back at my parents’ home, changed clothes, loaded the car, and gave hugs and good-byes all around.

Our three-hour drive to the Poconos gave us a chance to relax and wallow in the pleasure of finally escaping together. We pulled into the resort, signed the register, found our cottage and unloaded the car. I hauled my suitcase up onto the heart-shaped bed and flipped open the lid as my new husband came up behind me. He slipped his arms around my waist and then froze. There, inside my suitcase, atop all the clothing, was a yellow-haired doll looking up at me with outstretched arms. My husband’s face turned to utter horror as he thought I’d brought my baby doll along with me on our honeymoon. I laughed so hard that it took a few minutes before I could explain that my little sister really got me good this time.

Gail E. Strock

ZIGGY. © Ziggy and Friends, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Universal Press Syndicate.All rights reserved.

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