I was, I think, a bit of a toy maniac when I was a kid. I really LIKED TOYS A LOT. I mean, all kids did, but I think I spent more time fantasizing about having all kinds of toys more than the average kid. It's not like I was toy-deprived -- I had plenty, and also co-opted all my brother's toys (Hot Wheels! G.I. Joe! Creepy Crawlers! Cap Guns! Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots!) so I'm not sure why I spent hours poring over toy catalogues looking at things I knew I would never own. Greed? Maybe a bit. But I didn't want to own them just for the sake of it or to brag (although maybe a bit). I wanted to love them. I wanted to give them a home. Even a lowly 79-cent Hot Wheel car, I thought, would be better off with me than stuck with some terrible boy who would either leave it in a sandbox to rust or send it flying out a second-story window off a plastic orange track system of many-hours construction.

I got to thinking about this today as MissNine was brushing the hair of one of her beautiful American Girl dolls. She has like five or six of them, courtesy her grandmother, who is a bit of a late-in-life toy maniac herself. I would have DIED to have even one of them when I was her age...which reminded me of the one doll I wanted SO BADLY and never received.

I can still recall the feeling of my little heart's flutter and ache when I would see the beautiful Sasha dolls from Germany in the Marshall Field's glass display case in the toy section of the upscale department store. I thought they were by far the most wonderful dolls I had ever seen, almost real in their pretty, somber faces and lovely detailed clothes. I can remember standing there and staring at them while my mother would be off shopping elsewhere in the store, how I didn't want to leave them when it was time to go, and the strange sadness when I did, like they needed me to take them home and care for them. Me, particularly.

I knew the one I wanted most of all, a girl with long blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and tan skin. I didn't want the one who looked like me, with regular old brown hair, boring blue eyes, and pale skin. I wanted the one who looked like how I wanted to look, although I never thought about it so directly then. I wanted  to cherish her, admire her, brush her hair so so gently, keep her far away from grimy hands and dog hair and definitely away from sandboxes. Perhaps if I owned her, in some way, I would be beautiful too, a reflection, a proximal effect.

I knew, logically, I would never own a Sasha doll. They were simply too expensive, and my family didn't have that kind of money to spend on toys. I asked every Christmas anyway, for many years, until the Christmas came that I was too old to play with dolls.

I suspect that my mother remembers those Christmas lists, that her heart ached far worse than mine not to be able to buy me the beautiful blonde doll, and that my daughter's doll collection is, really, meant for us all.