by Patty Stoddard
When I was a 6 years old, I absolutely loved watching old Shirley Temple movies, which frequently showed on TV on Sunday afternoons.
If I did not misbehave at church, I was rewarded with TV time afterward. I would sing and dance along with Shirley Temple and was quite certain I was going to grow up to be just like her!
Imagine my delight when I saw a commercial advertising an opportunity to order a very special collector’s edition Shirley Temple doll! I begged and begged my mom to order that doll and she suggested that I could ask Santa to bring her… which is exactly what I did. (You can bet I did NOT misbehave at church after that!) It was the only thing I asked Santa for that year.
Christmas morning could
not come soon enough for me, and under the tree, all wrapped up with a big bow was the most beautiful Shirley Temple doll, complete with dimples, curls and a white dress with red polka dots! I was THRILLED.
Then I became aware of my older sister’s enthusiastic exclamations over a gift she had received: a fishbowl. With glittery multi-colored gravel. And a diver. And a glow-in-the-dark plant. And a goldfish.
I was consumed with envy.
I pouted. I sulked. I huffed. I flopped onto my bed. I could hardly eat all day. I tried VERY hard to produce tears in an effort to appear more dejected.
To their credit, my parents ignored all of my theatrics for most of the day and never once did anyone ask what was bothering me. Then it happened.
Just before dinner my dad cracked and inquired if there was something bothering me. Now, an older, wiser me would have recognized his calm solicitous tone as the calm before the storm. But I was 6. So I launched into a full, dramatic explanation of why I should have received a super cool goldfish for Christmas, too.
My dad marched my adorable little self right over to the Nativity scene, sat me down in a chair and instructed me to pray to the Baby Jesus that I would learn not to covet my sister’s gifts. The tears came for real now, and I was forced to see the error of my ways.
My dear dad eventually released me from my penance, my family welcomed me to the dinner table and my sweet sister placed that awesome fish bowl right in the middle of the nightstand between our beds!
And I still have that Shirley Temple doll! Who knew what a gift it would really be?