Thursday, December 29, 2016

Dodo, Love and the Cabbage Patch Doll

Back in 1984, my then 2-year-old niece Emily was very excited about Christmas, as most 2-year-olds are. Staying at her grandma's house with much of the family, she made sure to try and stay awake as long as possible. She also got up perhaps before everyone else, barely allowing Santa enough time to scoot out of the living room. As soon as she entered the room, you could hear her announce with a loud voice, "He came!" Under the tree were an array of gifts for the young one. Her eyes lit up as she opened them all.

Now, whereas all the gifts were important to her at this time, there are two specific gifts I bring to your attention here today. And for a wonderful reason.
  • A Cabbage Patch Doll - This was the popular doll of this time, part of the Cabbage Patch Kids collection, involving the folklore of the creator named Xavier Roberts, whoever the heck he was. The gift of this doll came, I believe, directly from Santa.
  • A Special Doll - This one, fashioned after the popular doll of the day, was actually made from scratch by Emily's mom, my sister Mary Lynn. She spent days on this doll, doing her best to make it similar to one of the Cabbage Patch forms. She did her best since, if I'm not mistaken, the actual dolls were quite expensive, out of the price range of Mary Lynn this holiday season.
The Famous Dodo

So this Christmas morning in 1984, Emily was to first open the special doll that Mary Lynn made. She embraced it, enjoyed it, celebrated it. Well, up until she opened the next gift ... the actual highly-priced, professionally produced Cabbage Patch Doll. All of the sudden this newer doll - which had its own distinguished name - took its rightful place in the arms of the child. And what happened to that other special doll? Well sure, it found its way face down on the ground. When Mary Lynn, probably a bit distraught over her overlooked gift, asked about the first doll, Emily announced in a very clear tone, "That one is Dodo."

Though Mary Lynn has quite a good sense of humor and could find the levity of a 4-year-old naming her gift after an 18th Century extinct bird, it had to hurt just a little bit.

Over the years, we have all had smiles about the story. Over the years, the story has been kept alive. And over the years, the perspective on the story has shifted, from one of humor and silliness to one of warmth and beauty. For me anyway.

Emily with her own kids.
And the reason is because of a conversation I had with Emily about a year ago. Somehow, the conversation turned to the days of the 1980s, living in Huntington Beach and of course ... Dodo. "I still have Dodo! I have saved it," she said. Oh really? And what of the other high-priced Cabbage Patch Doll that Santa brought? Not sure where that one ever went off to.

It's a beautiful world, isn't it? It's the ultimate choice of a child, the choice of the wise, the choice of the heart. Not for the store-bought product that shimmers and shines in the fashion and fad of public opinion, but rather for the home-made gift created by the hands of a loving mother.

It is a beautiful world, one that knows of love over gold, quality over quantity, heart over head, and nothing - no nothing - over "Dodo," a wonderful and delightful doll who will live on as long as there are gifts given directly from love.    

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer who has saved his own Dodo's over the years. He can be reached at