Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Collecting Sentiment

I don't know when I started collecting porcelain dolls, but I know that once I'd received one, Christmas and birthdays required little thought on my parents' part.  My dad built me shelves, and my mom picked out dolls to fill them.  I named them.  I counted them.  I had favorites.  One of which, interestingly enough, was Michael: a toddler dressed in baseball pinstripes sitting on a red and white rocking horse.  Maybe some part of me knew I'd better learn to love baseball and red.

As I got older, my mom's choices seemed more purposeful.  She chose dolls to expand my Christmas collection, dolls she thought looked like me, or dolls for special occasions.  I have a doll from my high school graduation and my last doll - the one from my wedding day.

When I got married, I carefully packed my dolls and moved them to our tiny 620 square foot condo.  There really was no space there for 20 dolls, and in my mind they were just waiting to be displayed in my daughter's room.  Aside from the few that sat atop my piano, the rest collected dust and matted hair in a box.  So when we moved to our home nine years ago, I decided to keep only a small collection.  Michael and his horse, five Christmas dolls, and two tall dolls in beautiful golden dresses for my living room.

And then I had three boys.  Obviously, my remaining dolls will never be displayed in my daughter's room.  And if I was sentimental enough to keep them for a granddaughter, I am fairly certain my future daughter-in-law would keep them merely out of obligation.

And there is the issue that a stray ball in the living room broke the foot of one my remaining dolls...

Not only that, but I have grown up.  My decorating style is a bit more contemporary than gold-clad porcelain, and the dolls have never even fit in here.  Once a friend of mine confessed that she thought it was creepy that my huge dolls were staring at her in my living room.

While I once loved my dolls, now I love my dolls for what they represent.  I could easily give away the porcelain and curls.  But it is hard for me to give up these gifts from my mother.  It is hard for me to give up a last remnant of childhood.  It is especially hard to let go of the doll from my high school graduation.

But if I put her in a box for the next six months, she's going to get ruined anyway.  So I feel like now is the time to make the decision.  Do the dolls come with me to the next house?

I'll keep my Christmas dolls for sure.  No one has ever called them creepy in that context.  And I will keep Michael forever.  My first little boy, and the perfect representation of my childhood and motherhood combined.  But is it time to gift the other two to a little girl somewhere who would name them and display them proudly in her bedroom?

I'm not generally a sentimental person, so it surprises me when my daily path past the dolls in question has me reflecting daily.  Are those dolls a part of my next journey?

If you have any thoughts on items from your childhood or any suggestions of beneficiaries of a potential gift, please share.  Even better, if you have a way I can somehow collect the sentiment without keeping the actual dolls, that would be amazing.  But I can't seem to make this decision on my own.


Mecham Family said...

Just make a small scrapbook with pictures of all your dolls and then get rid of them. I've been watching "Clean House" a lot and it's gotten me on a "get rid of it" kick. The hosts of the show really stress to the people they are helping that it's the memory you want to hold on to, not the item. Without the dolls, your happy memories of the dolls will still exist.