|Hand-made dolls. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Celebrating might not be exactly the way I'm looking at it, but I've got a birthday coming up on Friday January 30th. That next year of my life seems to come along annually on that same date and I haven't figured any way to slow down my aging process. I won't say how old I'll be on this next birthday, I'll just say it's an age that I once considered old. Funny, it no longer seems old to me anymore. My body might be creaky now, but my mind still seems young as it ever was though maybe a bit more wary and conservative.
My wife is planning on taking me out for dinner for my birthday. That's it--no parties for me and that's fine with me. When I was a kid I expected a birthday party. After I entered adulthood the parties were kind of cool if they happened, though to my recollection I don't think there were many of those. Now a birthday dinner with my wife is enough.
Thinking back on birthdays I was remembering parties that I had when I was a kid. I recall having them, but I don't remember any of them specifically and I don't remember any of the gifts that I received at those parties. Well, there was this one birthday. It was my thirteenth birthday if I remember correctly. We were living in Crown Point, Indiana and I was in junior high school.
During that time of my life I didn't have too many close friends and most of my school friends didn't live in the neighborhood where I lived. Several friends and school chums were invited to my birthday party, but only a handful showed up. One of those was a cute blonde girl who lived in a house on the next street over from where I lived. I could see her house from my bedroom window. Her name was Margo.
Margo must have gone to the same school that I did, but actually I don't know. I didn't know Margo that well, but I wanted to know her so I told my mother I wanted to invite her to my party. From what I'd heard, Margo came from a blended family. She had a step-sister who was about the same age as she was but that girl was kind of mean so I avoided her. But Margo seemed sweet, quiet, and intellectual. Maybe it was the glasses she wore that made her seem smart, but I couldn't say for sure whether she was smart or not. All I knew was that she was cute.
On party day I was thrilled to see that Margo was among the few guests who showed up. Trying to remember now I don't recall anything about what we did at that party or who else was there. I just remember Margo. Being very shy with girls, I'm not sure that I even spoke to Margo, but I was thrilled to have her at my party.
Then came time for me to open my presents. Now so many years later I couldn't tell you what gifts anyone gave me except for the gift from Margo. No one said anything at the time, but I'm sure the other kids thought it was an odd gift. Later my mother pointed out what a weird gift it was and that essentially her mother must be pretty cheap to have sent along such a gift with her daughter. To me though it was a wonderful gift.
What I found in the crudely wrapped package that Margo handed me was a simple little homemade doll made of cloth with a face drawn on it. It was almost more like a beanbag than a doll. I think it's quite possible that Margo had made it herself since it was so simple. The doll was accompanied by a "birthday card" that was a piece of white paper with a message scrawled in various colors of crayon.
To my recollection the message said something to the effect of:
This little man will always be with you
To bring you luck and protect you.
Always keep him near.
For years I did have that little man and the card. I've since lost track of the doll and the card. The doll is probably gone, but I have a feeling that the card remains somewhere among my packed away momentos. Most importantly I remember that cute girl who gave me the gift. She is only a vague memory since I don't know that I ever saw her again after that. I'm not sure what happened to her--I think she moved away a short while after that party.
That little man stayed near for a good while. I can't say that he gave me good luck or protected me in any way, but I've had a blessed life. And that little man has always been with me in my memory. Maybe a dumb cheap gift in the eyes of some, but it was a meaningful gift to me.
Thanks to Angela Brown for reviving this memory for me.
What gifts have been the most memorable to you? Has there been a person who meant something special to you whom you never got to know like you might have liked to? Have you ever given another person a homemade gift that may have seemed strange to others?