Teri Vance: Making Christmas memories

Around this time of year, we naturally start thinking about giving and receiving, and how to find the perfect gift.

My mom asked us the other day what we thought our most memorable Christmas present was.

If I thoughtfully go through the years, I can name a hundred gifts I’ve been grateful for, for a hundred different reasons.

But my first reaction, just seeing what feeling popped out most of all, was the Barbie Dream House that Santa brought my older sister and I.

Like it’s name implied, that house was dreamy.

Fully furnished, it was two-stories high with balconies and flower boxes… the works.

To be honest, though, when I really think about it, we didn’t spend a lot of time actually playing in the house.

In reality, every time we played Barbies — which we did religiously for years — we would drag that house out of the closet, and set it up with all of the amenities.

Then we would just play with our dolls as normal, which often meant taking them outside and losing ourselves in a dream world. In fact, we’d often have to clarify if the argument we were having was “real life or pretend life.”

Our Barbies were always up for an adventure, even if it meant putting their own lives at risk. We abused those dolls with games like dropping them into the ditch on one side of the culvert then racing across the dirt road to see her plastic body bobbing in the churning white water.

We would jump into the cold water, slipping on the rocks to catch our dolls before they swept away in the current.

We caught most of them (may the few that escaped our grasp forever rest in peace).

While the house was luxurious, with room for multitudes of Barbies, my older sister and I refused to let our little sister’s dolls abide there.

We made a dollhouse just for her out of our baby sister’s Huggies diaper box. It wasn’t as fancy, but it sure was roomy.

So when my mom asked why that was my favorite gift, it wasn’t such a simple answer.

I cherished it for that moment we walked into the living room that Christmas morning and saw what Santa had brought us.

In the soft glow of the tree lights, I felt like I had been seen and heard. I really wanted that house, and I got it. I felt loved.

While it wasn’t the house itself that made our playtime magical, but it did set the scene for our imagination.

It was inspiring.

When I think of gifts now, I think of the meaning behind that gift. And that’s what I try to replicate. Showing someone that I really value them.

It also changes the way I receive gifts. I see the idea behind it, rather than just the gift itself.

It taught me a lesson as well. The house would have only been merrier with more residents. There was no reason my sister should have had to play in a diaper box.

Gifts only increase in value when you share them.


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