Surly Girlie

Writing to figure things out and just because she likes it

Tiny Dancerina: A Ghost from Christmas Past

A little ballerina ghost came to remind me of Christmases Past, wrapped in shredded paper, and given a mini-makeover by my mother. Her tiny plastic hand was popping up out of the packing, and the minute I touched it, I knew. It was my beloved ballerina doll from forty years ago. I still have the picture:

This was taken at my Grammy’s house on Christmas eve, 1970-ish. Usually, I wanted a doll for Christmas and usually it was a very specific doll. Baby Tender Love. Baby Feels So Real. Baby Alive. Dancerina was no exception. It was her or nothing. Santa had better not mess this one up.

Her trick was that you could press the pointy part of her plastic pink crown (which looks very similar to an old-fashioned juicer)  up and down and she would spin around, or to be technical, pirouette. Amazingly, and this is why I love the internet, I was able to find this video of her from someone else’s 1970 Christmas.

I imagine she was highly advertised for on all of the cartoon channels and that I had looked at her picture many times in the JC Penney catalog, which back in the day, was the BIBLE of TOYS.

Her tights, and even the little rosebuds on her outfit, are still in remarkably good shape. My mom tied little pink ribbons around her ankles

My mom is always so crafty and knows the little touches that matter.

because her shoes were probably lost in the first half hour of me owning her, much like I lost Mrs. Beasley’s eye-glasses on one of my birthdays thus leading a search party hunting through the green grass of my Gram’s front lawn.

I would not have imagined ever meeting this little pink friend again, but as life is so often more bizarre than anything the imagination can conjure, there she was and there she is now, sitting under my tree in a Tinkerbell chair.  My mom found her at my Papaw’s estate sale, along with my beyond-repair life-size Raggedy Ann doll.

What is so overwhelming to me about this gesture is not that the doll has survived all of these years in an attic on a farm in Benham, Indiana. What is so overwhelming to me is that my mother is thoughtful and sweet enough to know how much this would mean to me. What is so overwhelming to me is that she, like me, has survived.

We are both, perhaps, a little worn for the wear, but still basically in tact and fond of the dance. My love affair with ballet and my horrible attempts at it is another blog altogether, but suffice it to say that this little beauty with her cute signature Mattel-turned-up nose and perfectly posed hot pink legs is welcomed home.

I always wanted a Mattel-doll nose.

Toys are our most intimate childhood possessions, they are the one thing we can control and they understand our lack of power in life. They befriend us when we need it, occupy us when we are bored, and sleep with us when we are lonely. When I touched Dancerina’s hand, it was like touching a piece of the past and took me riveting back to all of those grand parties and wonderful times at my Grammy’s house, and to the myriad thoughtful gestures my mother has performed for all of us over the year: the Valentines’ gifts when she knew I had no boyfriend, the “I love you; you’re special” notes on napkins in my lunch, and always including a little something from Grammy’s and Grampy’s house in our Christmas stockings.

Thank you, Mom, for always putting such love and care into your Christmas gifts and for finding Dancerina. We both send you our love. Mom, you are the spirit of Christmas!


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