Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Story Time with Fred the Cat

Fred the Cat here. Today I am posting Pop’s final Christmas Story. Both Pop and I want you to know that we have read all your comments on the previous stories and we surely do appreciate them. As you guys know, I’m a hardened old ex street cat and some of those stories caused tears to roll right down on my whiskers. Don’t tell anyone, okay?

Oh, and about that photo up top. Okay, the little red Santa hat got on my nerves and well I just lost it for a minute. Happens to the best of us sometime around the holidays, right?

The Pops, Murphy and I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas. That goes for you cat and dog characters too! Let’s all make a wish for true peace in our world some day soon. We deserve it, don’t you think?

Christmas Dolls

When I was a little kid, the most beautiful thing I ever saw were those big dolls they sold in grocery stores at Christmas. They were almost three feet tall and were displayed in boxes with one side having a cellophane window so the dolls were exposed. Oh my goodness the feelings I felt as I gazed up at them on the shelves. There were brunette dolls and blonde dolls. I’m telling you, they were treasures to my eyes. There they stood in their beautiful boxes smiling down at me. Sometimes the boxes were almost as pretty as the dolls. I don’t know how much they cost but I knew that they were way beyond anything Santa could ever deliver to my door. But, but gosh they were beautiful.

Santa did sometimes bring me a doll and I loved whatever he chose for me. It’s probably good that I never walked into the living room on Christmas morning to see one of those big beautiful dolls under the Christmas tree because I would have probably had a little kid heart attack. I never expected such a miracle and it never happened.

My family was never in a financial position to splurge at Christmas time. There were some ugly holidays during those years. One year my mother took a doll I already had, made it a new dress and put it under the Christmas tree to make me think it was a new doll. I wasn’t as dense as she had hoped. I figured out the ruse in about five minutes, but I did like the old doll’s new dress.

There was another Christmas when I was ten and my sister was three that we got several fun things from Santa in December, but they were taken away in January by the repossession people. It was hard for me to understand what was happening but it was harder yet to try to explain these events to my three year old sister.

Then there was the year of the Barbie doll. We were in a store and I saw a Barbie doll for the first time. Oh my goodness! Damned if these dolls weren’t perhaps even more beautiful than the big dolls in the grocery store. These small little dolls with the most amazing detail and unimaginably beautiful clothes. I would have gladly allowed someone to cut off my right arm if it meant that I might possess one of these dolls.

When I discovered Barbie my mother told me I was too big to be playing with dolls. Of course I was. Hell, I was eleven years old. But my mother didn’t appear to understand this doll was not to play with, this doll was to admire. This was a goddess doll that must be kept in her beauty and perfect condition.

That Christmas we were beyond Santa so we opened our presents on Christmas Eve. We were living in a not so attractive house at the time and things were near their all time pitiful. My sister and I sat there on the floor and tore into our meager little pile of gifts. We took turns opening our presents. I opened one of mine and about fainted. There among the ripped up wrapping paper was a Barbie doll. Not only a Barbie doll, but an outfit for her too. It took my breath away. I was the owner of this beautiful doll. I went bananas with gratitude. I jumped up and hugged the hell out my mother and I turned around to do the same to my dad but he had had too much to drink, again, and had passed out in his chair.

It almost didn’t matter that he was drunk again. It almost didn’t matter that at the time we lived in a trailer connected to a concrete block structure that served as a living room, bedroom and bath. It almost didn’t matter that daddy’s drunkenness that night would continue for a couple of weeks. It almost didn’t matter if we were, as my grandmother used to say, “poor as a church mouse”. I was the proud owner of a Barbie doll and her outfit.

I still have that Barbie doll and I still have the outfit and all the accessories. I still have the box she came in, and she’s in perfect shape. Not a hair is mussed on her head. Each Christmas I carefully take her from the box and dress her in that gorgeous pink outfit. I place her, along with my grandmother’s old doll, in a position of honor. And every Christmas it almost doesn’t matter that I never had one of those big beautiful dolls in the box, the big dolls that smiled down to me from the shelves at the grocery store.

I have left my days of yearning for dolls behind me now. I’m now a “big girl” and much too old to be playing with dolls. I don’t want or need them anymore. But you know what? They have those big dolls in the box at the grocery store this year and when I see them, just for a tiny moment, I shrink down to that little girl who used to look up at them with such awe. That’s when the little girl tears well up in my adult eyes. But, you know what? It almost doesn’t matter.


Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Merry Christmas Fred the cat, and your whole family as well.

December 22, 2006 3:17 AM  
Blogger JimmyJames said...

Good Morning Fred,
Nice story, and be careful of the doll. They just might take it away. The man put up a tree with tnisel and ornaments, and now the bottom 2 feet of the tree is naked. I played with the hanging toys, and the man moved them up higher out of my reach. I am thinking of climbing that tree to get them. But I like napping too. Maybe I will nap and think on it.
Happy Holidays Fred

December 22, 2006 4:32 AM  
Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

That is a lovely story. I'm so happy you got the doll of your dreams and she has been with you for a long time. Now, Fred - may all your Santa dolls be chewy! Have a very good one over there and remember the big O today.

December 22, 2006 4:59 AM  
Anonymous Liz said...

Alcoholism effects so many families, especially at the Holidays. The kids are always caught in the crossfire of the disease and all that goes with it. Just know you were never alone in those hards times. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! XOXO

December 22, 2006 5:24 AM  
Anonymous Knox Rover said...

PoP, I still have the Barbie I received for Christmas when I was 11. Let's get together and play sometime! :)

Another lovely story. I could really imagine how excited you were to receive that doll.

Merry Christmas to you and Mr. PoP, too.

December 22, 2006 5:39 AM  
Blogger Floridacracker said...

Thanks for the bittersweet tale. Well done.
Why is everybody up so early over here?

December 22, 2006 5:50 AM  
Blogger Sewmouse said...

I had a present kind of like the big dolls.

I always wanted one of those fluffy "princess" party dresses for Christmas. All the other girls at the children's Christmas Eve service (we parochial school kids were made to put on a Christmas play and sing carols & all that - and yes, of course there was a sermon, this is LCMS, dammit!) looked like Cinderella in their velvet and satin and organza dresses, and I'd be there in my little Goldblatts Special tan cotton dress.

(Mom thought I looked good in Tan. Mom was WRONG)

Needless to say, my daughter was dressed like a fairy princess when she was little for the same events... and now that I don't have a lil' one to do for anymore, I still sew a pretty pretty princess dress every Christmas, and wrap it up nice with a tag that says "For a Girl - Size 7", and put it in with the rest of the gifts for needy kids.

Somewhere, some little girl gets to be a princess.

December 22, 2006 6:57 AM  
Blogger niCk (Mem Beth) said...

Fred, Your posts and stories are always a Friday treat for me. Thanks.

Have a great Holiday.

December 22, 2006 7:07 AM  
Blogger maidink said...

As for Fred attacking the hat, I'm sure it did do something right vicious to him. Silly hat.

As for the rest of your post, THANKS A LOT!

I'm weepy enough being pregnant and that post set me over the edge!

I never experienced alcoholism in my family.

I did have friends while growing up who either their mom or dad or both were alcoholics. Those kids always found pleasant refuge in my home and were glad for any attention they were given.

Hindsight being 20/20, now I understand why.

My family, as screwed up mentally as we were, was still a family. We may never have said it often, but we loved each other and did what we could to help.

Thank you, PoP, for that well written and sobering post.

December 22, 2006 7:44 AM  
Blogger fallenmonk said...

Thanks for the story Fred. Glad PoP still has that doll and can still remember the joy it brought. So many times a rough time in childhood can harden the heart and make joy a tough thing to find or have in adulthood. Seems like the challenges of a less than happy childhood made PoP a better person and one that finds joy wherever she looks and then shares it with everyone she meets.
Happy Christmas Fred and family.

December 22, 2006 7:51 AM  
Blogger Anon-Paranoid said...

Hi Fred....

I hope you and your human family a very Merry Christmas and a Joyous Happy New Year.

I had too get on-line early today because my human is taking me to the Vet this afternoon.

He really pissess me off this time every year as he insists that I get my shots and a checkup to verify I'm not sick.

Boy oh boy is he going to get it later when I snub him for making me gets shots.

Still though I love him. I know he's only doing what he thinks is good for me, but come on now, I don't go outside so where am I going to pick up any bugs or colds? Really.

Anyway, God Bless all.


December 22, 2006 7:52 AM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

Fred tells the best stories. I love that you still have your Barbie doll.

December 22, 2006 7:55 AM  
Anonymous abi said...

Great post, PoP, and elegantly written as always.

As for you, Fred - bah, humbug.

December 22, 2006 8:09 AM  
Anonymous karenmcl said...

Thanks for the memories POP - and I put up something *special* just for you!

A stroll down that memory lane of a long ago Christmas in 1959!

And I remember those first Barbie Dolls too. (We even had ones that had solid hair with wigs to change their hair styles! And their clothes were very chic!)


December 22, 2006 8:15 AM  
Blogger Pursey Tuttweiler said...


I remember all those dolls too and I loved looking at those giant boxes with those giant dolls.

Such a sweet story. I never had kids and I forget how special Christmas is for them ripping into those boxes and seeing all those new and shiny things. Thanks for reminding me.

December 22, 2006 9:31 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

thanks for the story PoP. it's beautiful. this comes from a multiple tour combat veteran who still has, and treasures, the orange stuffed dog his drunken da gave him in 1952. yeah, i still have my buster.

December 22, 2006 9:37 AM  
Anonymous Knox Rover said...

I like Sewmouse's story, too. That's very nice of you to sew and donate a dress each year. You probably really make some little girl's Christmas every year.

December 22, 2006 11:47 AM  
Blogger Sammi2u said...

Merry Christmas Fred, hope you and your family has a safe and happy holiday!

December 22, 2006 12:13 PM  
Anonymous karena said...

Fred, Murphy, Pop and Mr. Pop,

Merry Ho Ho to you.

Thanks for sharing all these wonderful stories, sad, but good.

Big Hugs and Scratches Behind the Ears for All!

December 22, 2006 12:42 PM  
Blogger Yoga Korunta said...

Thanks for a wonderful story, Fred. The POPs are lucky to have you. Happy Holidays everyone!

December 22, 2006 1:06 PM  
Blogger Fixer said...

All the best to all the POPs!

December 22, 2006 1:43 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Beautiful story. A peaceful and joyous holiday season to you and yours, PoP and Fred.

December 22, 2006 2:37 PM  
Blogger Gort said...

Merry Christmas Fred, Murphy, Mr PoP and Blog Buddy.

December 22, 2006 5:28 PM  
Blogger MichaelBains said...

{thank you}

December 22, 2006 6:09 PM  
Blogger betmo said...

hey- regarding fred and the santa hat- sometimes a cat has to do what a cat has to do!! my two just do that to each other :) happy holidays to the pops and fred the cat!!!

December 22, 2006 6:51 PM  
Anonymous RJ Adams said...

That's a fascinating story, PoP, and beautifully written. I really enjoyed it. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

December 22, 2006 6:52 PM  
Blogger The Future Was Yesterday said...

You make a story come alive before my eyes. My wife still has her collection from childhood...and we carried them in the front seat with us, when we moved. Some treasures never quit being treasures.....

Fred....may you always get the sunniest spot on any windowsill.

You both are my Treasure.

December 23, 2006 1:15 AM  
Blogger a rose is a rose said...

merry christmas to you p o p and to mr p o p and fred and murphy as well

it's trite, but it's true. our growing up years helped to make us who we are.

you my dear p o p are special

may the new year bring you and yours peace joy and happiness (and one hell of a GIANT doll in a cellophaned window box)

December 23, 2006 5:39 AM  
Blogger bluegrrrrl said...

Oh pop, you come up with some tear-jerking stories! Little girls and their dolls, huh...I did have one of those 3-foot dolls (a Saucy Walker). One year my grandma sent my mom $5 to buy me one. When I came out on christmas morning to see Saucy Walker sitting under the tree, I almost did have one of those little girl heart attacks you were talking about!

You are one amazing woman, pop, and the bluegrrrrl household is putting out some big peaceful holiday wishes for you and your loved ones!

December 23, 2006 6:53 AM  
Blogger Rainbow Demon said...

Merry Christmas, Fred... Tell POP & Mr POP I'm wishing them a safe and Happy Holiday.


December 23, 2006 8:37 AM  
Blogger blueINdallas said...

pOp - Merry Christmas to you & yours! Enjoyed the stories. (Best doll ever: the "Dawn" doll.)

December 23, 2006 11:24 AM  
Blogger Rebellious Renee said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours, PoP!

I was a tomboy and my parents finally bought me a doll one birthday because they thought every girl should have a doll.... I took it outside, tied it up and pulled it's head off while playing cowboys and Indians with my brother...
they never bought me a doll again...

December 23, 2006 11:36 AM  
Anonymous pekka said...

The strenght of the pen has been proven by you to really be as rumored. You delivered once again a powerful punch which never got syrupy. This fact still intrigues me. It must have something to do with the fact that these stories are slices of your life and not calculated fiction for a cheap effect. I wish you a Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2006 3:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...


Great story. We've often talked about similar experiences. Alcoholism and economic insecurity are a bad combination for a child. Many years ago when mourning the father who had managed to dry out the last ten years of his life, but didn't live long enough or close enough for us to repair the damage done.

Daddy sold the piano that was my life.
Thirty years later he died.
I said that I forgave him
But I think he knows I lied.

It takes a long time to recover, but when peace finally reigns it is worth the wait.

May you, Mr. Pop, and all companions animal and human have a wonderful holiday.


December 23, 2006 3:35 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Merry Christmas Fred to you and your family. Always such great stories.

December 24, 2006 5:53 AM  
Blogger beachblogger said...

Dear Patricia,

Merry Peace, May the beach be with you!

peace, peter

December 24, 2006 8:34 AM  
Blogger Missouri Mule said...

Merry Christmas, POP!

Peace be to you and yours.

December 24, 2006 10:18 AM  
Blogger PTCruiser said...

Loved reading that tale, PoP. Merry Christmas to you, Mr. PoP, and your furry family.

December 24, 2006 12:18 PM  
Blogger Rain said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

I wish you Hope, Love, Laughter and Peace in the New Year.

December 24, 2006 12:37 PM  
Blogger oldwhitelady said...

Fred the Cat, you may be an ex-street cat, but you're as beautiful as one of those expensive sissy cats. Those Santa hats will do that every time. I had one, too, but chewed and kicked it to shreds.

The doll story certainly brings back childhood to me. I remember those wonderful dolls that all the girls were playing with. There was Barbie, Ken, and Skipper. Who else? I'm glad you got one for Christmas, that year. It's incredible that you managed to keep it to adulthood. Have you seen the new Barbies? Their heads are huge. They aren't as pretty as the old fashioned ones. Does yours have the bendable legs? I have an old one, stored somewhere, without the bends. She has a dog tooth mark in her chin.

December 24, 2006 2:28 PM  
Blogger The Fat Lady Sings said...

I still have my Barbie doll too. It was one of the few toys I ever got that didn't get given away. I cherish it; I did then and I do now. There was no money for outfits - so I used to make my own out of scraps of material. I loved that doll like nothing else - except for my stuffed monkey; and I didn't get to keep that.

December 24, 2006 4:12 PM  
Blogger SB Gypsy said...


Love the story, hope you and yours have a great new year - full of hope and joy.

December 26, 2006 10:08 AM  
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