The Baby Chrissy Christmas.
I am pretty sure I asked for Baby Crissy. One cannot be too sure of a memory 37-years-old. But, I do know this. That doll is sitting on a shelf in my spare room. I am 43. I got her the Christmas I was 6, younger than the age my daughter is now. It also was the year my brother was born. (Isn’t he cute?)
Of all the things I have let go in the last three-plus decades, that doll I cannot let go. I told myself for many years I was keeping her for my future daughter, and then one day I found Baby Crissy splayed and naked in Maria’s closet, and well, that was the end of that. I took her back. She’s still naked, but for at least 35 years she wore a dress and booties I once wore as a baby. I have those folded away now. They’re vintage, after all.
Why the doll, I have asked myself as I prepared to write this essay. I have Barbie’s and childhood books that, truth be told, I would not cry at the loss of. But, Baby Crissy… she is different.
First of all, she is the size of a 9-month-old baby and so holding her was real and comforting. OK, she’s hard rubber, but I learned to look past that. In a time when nearly all the dolls, and all media, showed blonde people, I loved having my red-haired doll. She was as close to looking like me as I could ever dream of in a doll. Her hair grows long when you pull it, but that was not my fascination. She was life-like to me. I changed her clothes, painted her fingernails, kept her on my bed each day.
When the internet was born, I remember sitting in my office and searching ebay for Baby Crissy, just because I wanted to see if she was worth moolah..and because back then, I still was in awe of all you could suddenly find on the internet. I digress. So anyway, I discovered mainly parts for sale, but wow, I also found there were Baby Crissy fans everywhere. I was not alone in my adoration. (And you know, I’d never sell her…)
And though Baby Crissy has spent many years in boxes, and traveling with me from house to house and city to city, I knew she was there. When my therapist told me I needed to hug on my inner child, I pulled her out of the box in the attic. It was sweet, but not the same. (If I recall, my therapist had a stuffed raccoon for his inner child. Oh yes, one day I will write about all that, but only if someone gives me a big book deal…)
That was more than a decade ago and I put Baby Crissy away until Maria was a toddler. Though my daughter likes dolls, they’re not wholly her thing. The presents she remembers most are crafts, books and dress-up clothes.
And I am OK with that, because it means she won’t mess with my Baby Crissy again.