my daughter and i went into the card store a few days ago in search of the perfect ornament for someone special. one of the traditions in our family is to give an ornament to each other every year. my mother started this tradition and i've continued it to the point that when my children leave their respective nests to build their own elsewhere, they will have at least one large box of ornaments (perhaps two). and of course, half the fun is in the choosing of the ornament -- something special to represent each distinct personality. every year when i decorate my tree and pull out my ornaments from others, i am reminded of the year they were given, the person who gave it and the special place each person holds in my heart.
so as we were looking through the ornaments at the store, i happened upon a chatty cathy doll ornament complete with a string to pull to make her talk and was suddenly transported back in time to when i got my chatty cathy doll and what eventually happened to her. i know that hallmark has done an excellent job of recreating toys from my past (barbie, radio flyer wagons, lionel trains, madame alexander dolls, gumby, to name a few), but it was a surprise to see chatty.
she had been one of my favorites as a child because she would talk to me -- sometimes when no one else would. face it, as a parent i've learned how difficult it is to keep several balls in the air simultaneously and still give a child the amount of attention they deserve or need. so i understand better now why sometimes my parents couldn't pay attention when i thought they needed to. but as a child u just start to think that maybe there is something wrong with u and perhaps ur just a figment of someone's vivid imagination -- well, at least that's what i did. so chatty became my confidant. i told her stuff i didn't tell anyone else. and she responded -- ok, she responded with canned responses but when ur 5 or 6 that doesn't really make a difference.
probably one of the saddest days as a child was when she got broken and we won't even discuss it because its not pretty. but her leg was broken off and her chatter box stopped processing the phrases correctly and she was reduced to little more than gibberish... it was devastating to realize that i wouldn't be able to have conversations with her anymore when she would respond in some coherent manner -- even if it was only with canned responses. and so she got relegated to the toy box with the plastic cushioned seat and all the circus animals on the outside and i grew up not giving her a whole lot of thought through the years because as i got older my mom became my best friend and the one i could talk to about anything.
until the day i saw the chatty cathy ornament and realized that i was missing my old "friend". missing ... something .... i figure i've been missing something for a while now. i miss my mom ... as i always do at this time of year ... i miss talking to her about things that are going on in my life. i have other friends and as my daughter reminded me yesterday when we chatted briefly about me perhaps moving, that i can make friends easily. but the thing is, i would miss my old friends. i would miss the easy way we chat about things, how there is never any judgement. that advice is given gently. support and encouragement come naturally and isn't forced. i can be who i'm supposed to be with no mask to hide the "sins of the past". that all takes time and energy to build that trust with someone. do i have that in me to do again? to redo my life for what feels like the umpteenth time.
my daughter said she's pretty "flexible" and "wouldn't mind a change". but she's young and can adapt easily (as she has proven by going off to college and settling in so readily) -- as i did so many years ago. i'm not so sure i can now. sometimes i'm scared by what is ahead. i have friends who have travelled all over the world to countries i can't even fathom myself going to, and i realize that i'm stuck in my need to have things planned out. that's why now, this period of time in my life, is so frightening to me -- because there is no plan, i can't see how the pieces will come together and it scares me and the only thing that keeps me grounded is papa god -- as he always has these past 6+ years. still, i long for the simple time of being a child, not having to think too much about how to make a go of it, not many worries in my life and playing with chatty cathy.