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Kathleen Gurbacki: Cabbage Patch doll arrived in the nick of time

At a time when our daughter was growing up, I liked to refer to it as the “fruit and vegetable” years. The fruit was Strawberry Shortcake. It wasn’t the doll’s looks that made her popular, it was her smell. Mmm, strawberry! She also had an assortment of friends that smelled, some better than others. As a group, they were like a fruit salad sitting on our daughter’s shelf.

The vegetable part (if you haven’t already guessed) was the Cabbage Patch doll. At first, these dolls made a quiet appearance on store shelves. Some people referred to them as being so ugly that they were cute. Because of their unusual looks and the fact that they came equipped with a birth certificate and a name, their popularity rose. It rose to the point where they became scarce. Naturally, it was at this point that our daughter Eve suddenly became interested in having one.

Eve attended dance lessons and at one point was paired off with Libby. She was Eve’s age and at the same ability level. Dance lessons were sometimes two or three times a week and Libby’s mom, Chris, and I spent a lot of time getting to know each other as we sat in the waiting area while our daughters tapped through their lessons.

One day as Chris and I sat and talked, I mentioned to her how Eve wanted a Cabbage Patch doll now that they were hard to come by. Chris said that Libby already had one, and she hadn’t played with it for a long time. She said she would talk to Libby and if she was willing to give it up, Eve could be the new mom.

As it was, Libby gave up “Guy” and our daughter was thrilled to have him. She kissed his bald head every night and loved him very much. But then it happened, Libby was having second thoughts. Even at a young age, she was mature enough not to ask for Guy back, but she had changed her mind and wanted a Cabbage Patch doll also.

Eve and I helped in the search for a baby for Libby. We stood outside every store that advertised, but only in vain. At one point, I remember literally being swept off my feet and couldn’t feel the ground under me as we were being pushed through the doors. After a while, the retailers only added names and phone numbers to a list in hopes that all orders would eventually be filled.

Christmas was slowly approaching and Libby was sure Santa would bring one. But Santa’s elves were working overtime and were very behind on orders. Eve and I even asked a mall Santa for help.

This situation made me think of a Bible story. Once a wise king had to make a decision when two women claimed to be the mother of the same child. The outcome was a happy one and I can’t help but think that a baby king, born on Christmas, had intervened for us so that we, too, could have a happy holiday. On Christmas Eve (yes, the day before Christmas!) a store called. Santa had dropped off some dolls and our name came up on the list. I quickly called Chris who sent her husband, Bob, rushing to the store.

Our daughters are adults now and their dolls are packed away, but Chris and I still exchange cards every holiday season and reminisce about that Christmas Eve. That year, the year of the vegetable, the only thing she and I both wanted for Christmas was a little cabbage.