My great grandmother loved Holiday Barbie; it’s okay to laugh, I know I did. To me it always seemed silly, maybe even chintzy. But I think, looking back on it, that she really loved Christmas- especially those early Christmases in my life, before family feuds and the revelation of shrouded truths scattered us to the four winds. Her Barbie was a way to relive those years, without having to be vulnerable or exposed to anyone but herself.
By this last holiday season, my grandmother was sick, and great-gram had lost enough of her vision (and her gumption) that she wasn’t going to brave the holiday shopping crowds alone. Of course I didn’t find this out until Christmas Eve; but I’m not deluded enough to think I would have been the one to escort her on her annual pilgrimage.
I found my aunt in the computer room, swearing at the keyboard for not cooperating with her, and she explained the tale. I suggested some sites to aid her search, and after a few moments’ bemusement at her continuing struggle, I offered to finish it for her. It took longer than I expected, because most of the usual outlets had sold out, and most of those remaining had marked the dolls up considerably. But when it was done, I rejoined the family in the other room.
It was the first Christmas Eve since I’d graduated that I didn’t have to work, and I stayed late into the night, until the last of the family went to sleep. The doll took months, not weeks, but arrived with time to spare- though at the time none of us were aware any timer had been running down. She passed in her sleep, peacefully, I’m told.
It’s strange, but I take some small comfort that things ended the way they did. I don’t regret I hadn’t visited her one more time, or that she wasn’t a larger part of my life. It was enough that she had one more Barbie, and one last Christmas with us. It was a final gift we shared.