NORMAN — The week before Christmas is always one of my favorite times to be a lifestyles editor. This week, I’ve had the pleasure of reading more than 20 Christmas stories sent in by Transcript readers. I’ve not consulted the archives, but I think that’s a near record.
This year’s judging was extra hard as each story seemed to be not only from the heart but also captures the true spirit of Christmas. I would like to thank each and everyone for submitting a story this year. It truly is an honor that so many of you get excited about this annual contest.
The stories did remind me of one of my most memorable Christmases. I always joke that growing up we were poor 364 days out of the year, but not on Christmas morning. It was a sea of presents. Stockings stuffed with candy, more trinkets than we knew what to do with and one year even a couple of lottery tickets managed to work their way into our stash. Although no one in the house struck it rich the easy way, we were blessed with so much love and warmth.
I know I’ve used this space on many occasions to hail the powerful spirit that Barbie held over my girlhood dreams. I don’t want to brag, but when I was younger I was a connoisseur of all things Barbie. I had her house, her clothes, her friends and even her famous boyfriend, Ken. One Christmas, I was honored to get the Barbie Winnebago. It was quite possibly the créme de la créme of Barbie accessories.
It was yellow with a pink pinstripe along the edges. The top was open to allow easy access to the inside that featured a couch, a sink and even a shower. All the luxuries that Barbie and her friends deserve while traveling.
The Winnebago was so long “that it would take 10 minutes for it to get down the drive way,” my dad would say. And although fabulous, there was one design flaw about the Barbie Winnebago. It had to be put together.
Thank goodness that year I had many other toys and treats to keep me occupied until after Christmas dinner. But even though I had yo-yos, electronic games and an endless supply of Christmas candy, over in the corner, still in it’s box, was that Barbie Winnebago calling my name.
As a child, you don’t realize things take time. But I did realize when it took my dad and my Uncle Grant 20 minutes just to open the box the Winnebago came in, that I was in for a long afternoon.
They fussed, they cussed, they gathered in secret. They took many breaks. They did. They undid. And they cussed some more. This summer I found a picture taken of the assembly line. An 8-year-old version of me can be seen in the background hovering over two grown men trying to put together a child’s toy. Based on the look of concern on my face, I’m almost certain it is the reason the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words,” was coined.
But through hard work, determination and a pesky little girl asking them when they would be finished putting Barbie’s newest transportation together, those two men accomplished that project a few hours after starting it. Oh, and what a glorious moment. For everyone involved. My dad and uncle were just happy to get off the living room floor. I quickly took over their spots and got down to work moving Barbie and all of her friends in.
And I remember then, thinking about the real gift I had just received. There were hundreds of other things I figure that my dad and my uncle would have rather done on that Christmas. But they did one thing. They showed me determination. They taught me a few words mom said I should never repeat. They showed me how much they loved and cared for me. And they put together one of the best Christmas presents I think I’ve ever received.
I actually still have the Barbie Winnebago. True, it’s seen better days. It logged in a lot of miles. But when I look at it today, I’m reminded of two of my favorite men slaving away all for one special little girl and her favorite doll.