We find old book and doll friends.

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When Kate was here last month she did a lot of plowing through her childhood stuff — Well, to be truthful, that doesn’t really describe what happened. She lovingly looked through boxes of books and toys she’d collected in her first 18 years, and household items like linen napkins and unP1100683used potholders that had been passed down to her from her grandmother. She had in mind the usual sorting categories of Keep, Give, and Toss.

With her wedding fast approaching, it blessed me that she took the time to enjoy the task. She hasn’t lived in our house for many years, but she was remembering what she said was a very rich childhood, surrounded with so many books which she always knew were part of the household because they had some value. This made the finding of a book worth reading much more likely than if she looked in a bookstore or library.

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Of course I find my children fascinating, and this peek into Kate’s memories interested me because it revealed that the development of her love for books and reading had an aspect I hadn’t even thought about. I was also pleased because it was a part of a success story. (I’m thankful that my kids don’t tell me about all the failings that I can’t change at this point.)P1100674

Kate used to collect dual-language dictionaries, even for languages she didn’t plan to study anytime soon, like this Japanese one above. And she had an assortment of dolls, most of which she has now bestowed on me to do with what I like.

I’ve been trying to figure out why grown women often like dolls and play with them, in adultish ways of course. Is it because we miss our children who have grown up? I find it hard to turn down a doll who needs a home, the way some people can’t say no to cats or dogs. I have a drawer full of dolls that I want to make new clothes for or mend in some way, and a suitcase full of really old broken dolls that belonged to our mothers and which I am even now gathering the will power and good sense to get rid of.

But I am quite thrilled to suddenly have so many new doll children who still have a lot of life in them. Before I decide how to distribute them, which ones to let the grandchildren play with, etc., I had to do something about the stink they had acquired by sitting in a plastic container for years.

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I set them out in the hot sun for a couple of days, and that did the trick. Maybe they didn’t even need the sunshine; perhaps the fresh air would have been enough therapy. But the ones with faces look happy enough to get the full outdoor experience.

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I used to love to read the Raggedy Ann and Andy stories to my children. Probably getting to know the personalities of the storybook dolls and following their secret adventures has contributed to my feelings about dolls generally. I can imagine that Kate’s dolls, over the years that they were ignored in that corner of the house, were sneaking out of their box and into the book boxes nearby to have fun improving their little minds. It sounds like something my children would do.

16 thoughts on “We find old book and doll friends.

  1. Bittersweet, Lovely and moving. I loved that you said that they don’t tell of failings. I am glad they have had a wonderful childhood.

    I still have a hope chest full of raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. Some were mine some were the girls but all are precious to me now. I have no idea why I keep them either. The funny thing that when I hold my Raggedy Ann that I cherished as a child, she still holds those secrets I whispered so long ago.

    I love the books too. That is wonderful.

    Such good and precious things are in your life. Thank you for sharing them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And here I was feeling silly because I have inherited two very large 1880- 90 German dolls and I couldn’t help but to change the clothes on one of them. Perhaps Kate may feel differently about one or two of her dolls in a few years time…mothers are so good at saving things.

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  3. I’m not a collector of dolls, but as I was on my way to babysit my grandgirls this morning I drove by a garage sale (we had our community wide garage sale today) and there sitting in a lawn chair were three Raggedy Ann/Andy dolls! I almost stopped, but didn’t have time. I would have checked out the price and maybe sent them to one of my blogging buddies! It is hard “going through things” and having to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. We attach so much meaning to old toys and belongings that were our children’s. I also liked what you said about being thankful that our kids don’t remind us of our failures. I’d like to think that eventually they understand how hard we tried as they live more of life themselves. I think they do. 🙂

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  4. In case you don’t get notifications when I reply to a comment on my blog, ATC stands for Artist Trading Cards. They’re baseball card sized pieces of art you exchange by mail. It’s one way I keep myself practicing art. 🙂

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  5. What a lovely post! My ancient teddy bear and first doll recently arrived in my new home after many years of being kept in a plastic bin. They are finally seeing the light of day and look happier also. My mother hand washed my childhood Raggedy Ann some years ago. Poor Ann disintegrated into a pulpy mess. My then 80+ year old dear mother felt so badly that she wrote a poem of how Raggedy Ann went to heaven.

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  6. The “I’m Ripe” peaches boxes you used for their sunbathing beds made me smile! Books and dolls are a good combination I think, though for me, dolls aren’t so meaningful as they seem for you. Not sure why that would be. But books . . . well, who can say enough good things about those! This was a lovely post; thank you for sharing this little bit of life with us.

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  7. lovely post and lovely comments! E-H I hope you find that poem too! I have my toys waiting at home at my parents house, along with a lovely kids sized rocking chair. I have a doll named ‘Amy’ after a distance cousin that I admired and the doll was made to look like me as in green (I have hazel) eyes and brown hair; my sister got a blond blued eyed one, both handmade to look like cabbage patch kids but much bigger and really much cuter!

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  8. What a good question!! Why DO we treat dolls the way we do? Truly, we girls give them a place we do not give to other toys. I would give away other old toys, or throw them away if they were broken. But a doll? A doll feels too close to a person. I have several old ones, hairless, naked, amputated, laid lovingly in boxes. Some other girl will have to throw them out when I am gone. I can’t do it.

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  9. Oh dear. I’m afraid I’ve fallen into the “collector of cats” category…
    But back to your dolls and books. My mom has one or two that she purchased as an adult, not to dress and play with per se, but just to have something that she didn’t as a child in a poor home.

    Liked by 1 person

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