Friday, April 29, 2011

Victorian Barbie??


When I was 7, I wanted this set of blow up barbie furniture badly. My cousin had it, and it was so bright, cute and cool. I'd go to her house and we'd play barbie for hours with her hip furniture and her Donnie and Marie dolls with matching purple sequined outfits.

I didn't even have a real Barbie.

If mom would have just spent $6 on a damn Barbie, it would have saved me a fortune on therapy. Thanks mom.

I can't remember if I asked for barbie furniture that year for Christmas, but I got some!


Wait what?


It was homemade furniture. Handmade by my grandma. You know the one, the grandma that didn't bother with Better homes and Gardens - she subscribed to Popular Mechanics instead. That one. Don't get me wrong, grandma could sew a mean quilt, but she was no stranger to a jigsaw either.



She carefully cut out of clothespins and leftover paneling (or maybe something she'd torn out of her newly remodeled home) lots of little pieces, perfectly fitting Barbie's unbendable body. All held together with tiny nails and lots of wood glue, you can still see Grandma's original pattern all laid out. Tufted and upholstered in the fabrics of the day, mostly likely from grandma's scrap bin, each piece carefully put together to make a full set of table, chairs, rocker, dresser, 4 poster bed, cradle, couch and chair.

It was terribly...


and... non-inflatable.

And ... brown.

I was not a happy 7 year old girl, but I don't think I ever let on to my grandma. Instead, I made the best of a "bad situation" and transformed a 4 tiered metal shelving unit into Barbie's dream house where I spent hours upon hours playing with my Sunshine Family.

It's seen a little rough side of life. The posts on the bed have always given me a fit, one of the chairs is wobbly and the cradle leans to one side, but most pieces look nearly as nice as they did on that Christmas day in 1976.


After a while, I learned to love this set. Even after I'd outgrown my dolls, I kept the set packed away in my doll clothes chest in the bottom of the closet because even at 17, I knew that my grandma made it with love.

The other day while cleaning out that guestroom closet, I "rediscovered" the box of treasures at the bottom of a tall stack of useless stuff. I took all the pieces out and admired them once again and appreciated them even more for the time that grandma must have spent on them.

But the very best part of it all, was the part that I completely forgot about...


Grandma had hand signed each piece in pencil. There it was, after all these years, Grandma's signature.

That's when I sat there and thought for a little while, all these things that my Grandma did for me and I realized something. One of my sister's is Mom's little girl and the other one was Dad's little girl, but me? I think I was Grandma's little girl.

Then I cried.
Then I missed my Grandma. Under that rough exterior, she was a softy, but she never let on.

I wish I'd figured it out sooner.

Then I laughed when I thought to myself "I wonder where my cousin's blow up furniture is now."



Swimtaxi said...

What an amazing treasure your grandmother gave you!

LisaDay said...

Beautiful. You can put it out in your new library.


geek details said...

That is some pretty sweet furniture. You're so lucky to have had a grandparent that could do stuff like that for you :)

jennifer said...

This made me tear up. I loved my Grammy dearly. When my girls were little and played with their American Girl dolls, my grandfather made them wood beds and my grandmother sewed bedding to go with them.

My daughters didn't seem so appreciative but I keep them in the garage loft for 'someday'.

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