The Ghost of Christmas Past

Apr 17, 2012 by

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I just had the most painful memory.  I was reading Firefly Lane and a passage referenced some dolls called “Liddle Kiddles.”  I began thinking of the many barbies and dolls I had as a little girl and my thoughts came to rest on the Sunshine Family.  And then my tears started to flow.Image

It was Christmas time and I must have been around seven years old.  There was only one thing that I wanted for Christmas that year and that was the Sunshine Family dolls.  They were the fun, hippy, anti-Barbies that radiated all things flower child, nature, and love.  They were also everywhere in the commercials, and my friends and I strategized over how to optimize our chances of getting the dolls.  I did my part in working on my parents through good behavior and subtle hints.  Finally, Christmas arrived.  My brother, sister and I charged down the stairs straight to the Christmas tree in the living room.

Having previously eyed the box that I prayed contained my very own Sunshine Family, I torn into the hopeful package and wrapping paper flew everywhere.  And then, it happened.  My grand moment of disappointment.  Sure, I got the Sunshine Family . . . but they were the Black Sunshine Family.  I stared at the smiling Black faces looking back and me and, hunching my shoulders over, tears began to fill my eyes.  I was consumed with sadness and, surprisingly, a little anger.  I looked up at my parents crestfallen.  They had the same looks on their faces too.  Looking back, I can’t recall if I even said thank you, but I do remember telling them, very clumsily, that I didn’t want the Black family, I wanted the White one.

ImageEven then, in that moment, I felt a little bit of myself fly away.

It wasn’t until this moment when the memory of Christmas circa 1976 hit me like a kick in the gut that I looked at this event from the perspective of my parents – in particular, my mom.  My light skinned, bi-racial mom of questionable origin who has her whole life lived between two worlds not of her own choice or making.  I’ve heard her stories of growing up in the south.  My heart has broken more than once for her.  Christmas 1976, I added to that brokenness with my seven-year-old myopic world and self view.

This morning, I imagined my mom walking into that toy store, standing and looking between her two choices, and picking the Sunshine Family she hoped her daughter would have chosen.  I imagined that she picked the Sunshine family representative of the family she was trying to create for her daughter every day.  And then I open the damn thing, and cry?

Was she humiliated taking the little Black dolls back to the store and exchanging them for the White ones?  When she did, was the cashier White or Black?  Did they make judgments about her and the stupid little girl she was raising?  I’d say a strong, four-letter word here, but my mom might be reading this and be subjected to even more judgment on my behalf.

In moments like these, where I am staring face to face with my ignorance, I can only say thank you for God’s grace that shows up in mothers who love us and try to teach us to love ourselves and who – when we fail to get the lesson – continue to love us any way.

I’m getting it, Mom.  I promise, I am.  I love you and me, just the way we are.

Peace and Blessings,

Nicole Walters

Related Posts

Share This

Leave a Reply