While standing at a checkout line in Wal-Mart the other day, I couldn’t help but smile as I overheard a little girl behind me telling her mom how excited she was that it was almost Christmas, and how much she “really, really...” hoped that Santa would bring her the Barbie doll that she asked him for in the letter she sent him. There was so much enthusiasm in that young voice that I didn’t need to turn around to know that she was probably bouncing up and down as she said all this to her mom – without stopping to take a breath.
Her childhood excitement made me think about my own early years when Santa was real and reindeer could fly and your biggest worry was whether your mom would let you eat a chocolate chip cookie before supper and the world was a safe and happy place. And I tried to remember what I’d wished for when I was little like that, about five, six or seven years old.
Although it was quite a long time ago, there is one specific toy that comes to mind: my precious ‘Dawn’ doll that I received for Christmas when I was about five or six years old. When I opened up my gifts that morning and discovered that one of them was a ‘Dawn’ doll, I shrieked with delight. I ripped open the package and hugged her. I ran my fingers through her long, silky, blonde hair that was so shiny it looked like spun gold. She was the most beautiful doll I’d ever seen and I loved her.
Do you remember the Dawn dolls? They made their debut in 1970 and quickly caught on with little girls – like me. They were smaller than Barbie dolls, and although they weren’t very well made, they were quite charming, and they came with a world of accessories and an assortment of brightly-coloured clothing. Dawn, like Barbie, was the main doll of the line but she had an assortment of friends. In addition, Dawn dolls cost much less than Barbie, so the mothers of little girls who were captivated by these pretty dolls were thrilled to have an alternative that was reasonably-priced.
This worked out wonderfully for families like mine that didn’t have much money. In my home, and in many homes we interacted with, toys were a luxury, so an authentic Barbie was not very common. Barbie dolls and their accessories were ridiculously-priced, so mothers with tight budgets – like my mother – were very grateful for dolls like Dawn. Because even moms who can’t afford to splurge on toys want their little girl to have a doll that she can play with and cherish. But not one that is hard on the pocket.
I adored all the dolls I had over the years, but Dawn was, by far, my most cherished. And even after so many years, I can still remember the feelings associated with that Christmas morning and how much joy I experienced playing with this pretty little doll that day, and many days after that. I had Dawn for a long time and I have never forgotten about her. Every year around this time, I think about my most cherished childhood toy. And smile.
Did you have a favourite toy as a kid?