Last weekend while my husband and I were looking for something in our basement storage room, my 3 year old daughter stumbled upon my childhood dollhouse. “Um, what’s this mama?” she asked. I hadn’t planned to pass my dollhouse along to her for another year or so, when she would be old enough to understand how important the dollhouse is to me. But I knew that I couldn’t keep it hidden any longer as soon as the words “mama’s dollhouse” came out of my mouth.
The cat was out of the bag and she was instantaneously excited and intrigued.
So my husband, Mark, and I carefully carried both the dollhouse and its large stand to our children’s playroom. The stand, made from wood, was carefully constructed by my father for the sole purpose of displaying the beautiful miniature house.
As Mark loosened the cardboard covering that he had nailed to the dollhouse years ago, exposing the miniature rooms, I was once again five years old.
It was Christmas and my family had traveled to Ohio to spend the holiday with my maternal grandparents. The house was full of family, my mom’s brother, his wife, my parents, grandparents, my sister, and me. The strong, sweet aromas of my Grandmother’s turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, warm bread, and hot pies, filled every room in the house. We let everyone take their turns opening gifts, starting with the youngest, me, first. After everyone finished opening their gifts, my Grandfather told me to sit in a chair and cover my eyes with my hands. A few seconds later, he told me to open my eyes.
Standing next to him and my Grandmother was the most beautiful white and green dollhouse that I’d ever laid my eyes on. My Grandfather explained that he had designed and constructed the entire house himself, complete with base molding, and my Grandmother had created all of the linens in the dollhouse using scraps from their own home – draperies, rugs, and bedspreads.
“So what do you think?” He asked, as he and my Grandmother beamed with pride at their craftsmanship. I remember being extremely embarrassed by everyone staring at me, expecting me to say something. I ultimately shied away from the dollhouse, and muttered something to the effect of “I don’t like it.”
To this day, I still wish I could take those words back and instead tell him how much I’ve loved and cherished his beautiful masterpiece. In fact, so much that I have carefully preserved the dollhouse for 30 years so that my own children could enjoy and adore his creation.
It took three scrubdowns to get rid of all the dust. But once cleaned, my daughter played with the dollhouse for hours. She didn’t seem to mind the warped wallpaper or the dusty linens. In fact, we had to pry her away from it to come upstairs and eat dinner.
Last night I called my 93-year old Grandmother and told her about last weekend’s events. She was elated to hear that her great granddaughter thoroughly enjoyed something that she helped create many years ago.
She also mentioned that this year, my Grandfather will have been gone for 20 years.
I told her that although he’s gone, his craftsmanship, thoughtfulness, and ability to create something that makes his grand daughter smile, surely lives on.
What distinct memories do you have when you were 5 years old?
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