This year I was able to extend Christmas all the way to New Year's Day! My family and friends know how much I love Christmas and my birthday, and I will always find ways to extend the celebrations if possible. (For example a few years ago, Jim gave me a weekend for two at a hotel on the Coast for my June birthday. My sister and I finally used that gift that November, so I just considered that it was still my birthday! Clever, huh?)
This year, my youngest son, his wife, and their son (Addison) spent the actual Christmas holiday with her family about an hour's drive out of town. They came home on Sunday, had to work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, so it was Thursday - New Year's Day - before we could get together with them to exchange gifts.
I love giving and I love receiving, so the whole Christmas thing is wonderful for me. Jim & I had been looking forward to the kids' reactions to our presents for them, and hoped for some wonderful home-made goodies in return. (Briana is a great cook, and both Ben and Briana are extraordinarily creative people, so our gifts are usually unique and thoughful.) I truly don't think anyone was disappointed - we had one item that had to be returned, but it brought something we truly needed in its place, so all was well.
Then came MY last gift. The tag said: "To Cheryle Ann From Santa." And the box was - well, not huge, but large. And I couldn't imagine what it held, or why my whole name was on the tag. Briana said, "We think this must have been hanging around in Santa's bag since you were a little girl, and he finally found it to give to you!" I was even more perplexed.
When I opened the box, there inside was a beautiful new doll for my collection - but she is dressed up in Western costume. "It's Annie Oakley!" I cried out. And then I just cried. My loved ones know how much I love Annie Oakley. How, when I was a little girl, my mom made an Annie Oakley outfit for me to wear while I sang all the songs from "Annie Get Your Gun." They know that one of the highlights of my 60th birthday two summers ago was going to Cody, WY and seeing the museum where artifacts of her life and career are on display. And they know that my doll collection has been languishing in the guest room, destined for perhaps a great-granddaughter, since my kids seem to only produce boys!**
Strictly speaking, and according to the tag on her arm, her name is Jan Jesse. But it's just not MY fault if the manufacturer didn't recognize her true identity, or if Annie chooses not to be harrassed by the paparazzi! She and I both know she's Annie Oakley, so don't let me hear from any naysayers out there in blogdom!
Briana found her at an estate sale last year, and thought of ME! Now, how cool is that? (Briana finds the most and the best bargains at estate sales - and she obviously also has an eye toward things that will be loved by others.)
Annie has not yet joined her sisters (and brother) in the guest room. As I told Jim last night, I'm not through looking at her yet. Besides, she is the impetus for me to finally do what I've wanted to do for several years: build a proper display case for my lovelies. Annie will be right there next to Katie, the last doll my mom ever gave me.
** We have a little postscript due regarding my grandchildren. The postscript is due around the 4th of July, and we do not yet know if we are expecting a boy or a girl. I've waited to make the announcement until Briana told the world on her blog, but gosh it's been hard not to share!