All I Want For Christmas…

On Christmas Eve 1985 our daughter Bess was 5 years old.  Everything was ready for Christmas – cookies baked, meals planned, tree trimmed, gifts wrapped (or hidden until Santa could deliver them).  We were having breakfast, we five: Deb, Tyson 7, Bess 5, Blake 2, and me.  At 7:00 am it was just a nice quiet, peaceful morning before the onslaught of Christmas-palooza (when you have 3 kids aged seven and younger Christmas Eve gets a little bit crazy – the anticipation, the sugar, the last-minute details). So a calm quiet breakfast was just what our little family needed.  We could ease into the day.  Or so I thought. Then Bess (with her sweet little sleepy-voice) said, “I don’t care if Santa doesn’t bring me anything else, as long as I get REAL BABY® WITH HER EYES OPEN”

With that announcement everything changed!  WHAT???  When did she tell us about ‘Real Baby’?  How did we miss that?  Of course I knew then what I had to do. Every daddy knows that you MUST FIND ‘Real Baby’ or destroy your little girl’s Christmas dreams. And so the search began…


I know this sounds like a sitcom and maybe it could have been but it really happened and it wasn’t funny then. The morning of December 24, 1985 became panic-filled.  I jumped into my 1977 Ford Pinto and away I went. This was before the days of cell phones, so I took a handful of change to call home from pay phones (remember those?). I started out looking in the stores nearby – Venture (remember those?), Target, Sears, and then I fanned out to – more Venture Stores, more Targets, Toys-R-Us, Wal-Mart, Famous-Barr (another blast from the past), JC Penney, Woolworth’s – you name it; I tried it.  I could find ‘Real Baby With Her Eyes Closed’ (which kind of looked like a scary dead baby) but EVERYONE was sold out of ‘Real Baby With Her Eyes Open’. After each failed attempt to find ‘Real Baby’ I called home with the grim news – no baby. What was I going to do? How was I going to deal with disappointing my little girl on Christmas morning?

After spending nearly the entire day searching for a doll that I was certain could not be found, I finally admitted defeat.  I was heading home around 4:00 pm when I decided to give it one last try.  There was (and still is) a K-Mart Store west of where we lived and I thought “what the heck” it’s worth one more try. Still in my heart I knew it was foolish.

But when I walked into the Toy Department there she was – perched on the shelf like an angel. I really thought that the fatigue had gotten to me and that I was just ‘seeing things’ but there she was, all by herself, ‘Real Baby With Her Eyes Open’!  Only God knows why the most popular doll of 1985 would still be sitting on K-Mart’s shelf on Christmas Eve.  Maybe it was just my own little Christmas miracle.  I know I had tears in my eyes walking to the checkout counter – again maybe that was just the fatigue.

Needless to say, Bess was very excited the next morning and she LOVED ‘Real Baby’ and she said, “I knew that Santa would bring her to me!”  More tears…

That doll is still in a box in our basement today.  Her hair is a little ‘jacked-up’ because she was loved so much.  Bess carried her around like a real baby for years (hence the name) and I never regretted or will I forget the crazy Christmas Eve that made it all possible.

I hope each of is blessed with your own Christmas miracle this year.




Could you say no to this face?

P.S. This year Bess’s daughter Anna announced that she wanted Santa to bring her a dollhouse that we had seen about a month ago – no mention had been made of it until just last week. But not to worry – Pawpaw has located one (the last one again) and all is well. I guess the apple doesn’t fall very fall from the tree ~ God, thank you for my ‘apple’ and my ‘tree’. I am twice blessed!

2 thoughts on “All I Want For Christmas…

  1. I think Checy Chase and Steve Martin could play you in the desperate search film – I can see it! (And in a pinto no less!).
    Remember the Cabbage Patch Doll crazy – I have a similiar KMart story searching for the doll for friends miles away!
    We don’t have to drive or travel or search very far for what we ask of God! Ask and you shall receive! Blessings.

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