I woke up on my 5th birthday to bright morning sunlight coming through the windows of my grandparents’ den, where I was sleeping on the couch like I always did when we visited their house. Lying on my side facing across the room, the first thing I saw was a Raggedy Ann doll sitting on a chair by the door. I couldn’t believe it! Raggedy Ann was the gift I wanted with all my heart! Seeing her was so incredible, I wondered if she was really there. Then I remembered it was my birthday, and flew from the couch to pick her up.
She truly was a Raggedy Ann doll, the full-size one with red hair, red and white striped stocking legs, apron, calico dress and bloomers! If she was the real Raggedy Ann, the one in the books Mom and Dad read to me, she would have “I love you” written inside a heart drawn on her chest. I checked. There was. I knew right then it was going to be the best day ever.
Raggedy Ann has been with me for over forty-two years. As I moved into my ‘tweens, she sat on my bed with an assortment of stuffed animals. Eventually, the stuffed animals were given away and Raggedy Ann placed safely in a box for many years. She had become a bit tattered over time and needed stitches in her neck and a stocking replaced, so when my little girl was born Raggedy Ann was put on her shelf instead of into her hands. Raggedy Ann didn’t hold the same sort of appeal for my daughter, so this worked out just fine until it was time to store Raggedy Ann once again. It’s funny how a particular moment or gift will stick with you all your life. Although Raggedy Ann is a doll long outgrown and will likely never be on the top of any future granddaughter’s wish list, I will keep her safely stored, because the truth is she is keeping a wonderful childhood memory alive for me.
I’ve been thinking about the children I know now and how excited they are about Christmas next week. Many of them will wake up Christmas morning hoping the gift they want most will be in their stocking or under the tree. I was once one of those kids, and on many years received the gift I wanted most of all, yet it’s the memory of Raggedy Ann sitting on the chair of my grandparents’ den that stands out as my most delightful childhood gift. Christmas is just a few days out. I hope each and every child wakes up to an exciting fun morning with plenty of delight and love in everyone’s heart.