Monday, January 12, 2009

The Barbie Party Bus

When I was a little girl, I loved Barbies. I was the original Barbie girl and back in the day it was fashionable to play with Barbies (unlike today when 2nd graders are ridiculed for any Barbie reference). Way back in the 70’s, Malibu Barbie and her pals PJ, Ken and Skipper spent their days in the sun driving along in the Malibu Barbie Bus. There was a Barbie pool, the Malibu Barbie house, a Barbie townhouse, and Barbie even got a tan with real tan lines.

Now, I realize this sounds like sour grapes, but you see, my Barbies didn’t have the Malibu Barbie Bus, or the corvette, or any other fabulous Barbie vehicle. We drove shoeboxes at my house. Quite frankly Dr. Terry Brazelton would probably tell you that I had it better than those girls with all the Barbie accessories because I was forced to use my imagination. But really, have you driven a shoebox?

There is something magical about the toy aisles before Christmas. They have so many wonderful options, all made in China, unassembled, complete with tiny parts and decals. For just a minute, I slipped back into those bedazzled bell bottoms and ponytails and stood in amazement at the unbelievable Barbie paraphernalia. I had already purchased the girls’ gifts. I wasn’t supposed to be shopping any more, but there it was, the unattainable, the phenomenal, the absolutely fabulous Barbie Party Bus.

This year we promised to cut back, so I just couldn’t buy it without consulting Charlie. I had only called him four times, but he wouldn’t really mind one more buzz of the cell phone.
“Yes,” he said in an extremely annoyed tone.

“Charlie, I found the mother lode! It’s the most wonderful Barbie accessory of all. It’s a Barbie Party Bus. This thing has its own hot tub! This is AMAZING! Really, do you think we could get it? It’s just one more thing. You won’t believe it! It has lights and music and a REAL hot tub. I’m not kidding! You will not believe this!”

There was silence on the other end of the phone. It was deafening, definite and depressing. And then he said, “No. They do not need that!”

“But Charlie, you don’t understand! My Barbies had to ride in a shoe box. I mean you couldn’t even bend their knees! They had to ride everywhere with their legs sticking straight out. This is like nothing I’ve ever seen!”

“Who is this for? You or the girls?” he retorted.

He was right. They didn’t need anything more. We had promised to cut back and we had finished with their shopping. Hope’s birthday was coming up. Maybe we could get it then. It would give me two more months to convince him that it was something the girls would love. And that was it. I turned from the Barbie Party Bus and walked away. I was a little wistful, but I had to be the adult. I simply walked away.

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season proceeded. There were classroom parties to plan. There were salt dough gingerbread boys and girls to be made and decoupaged. Friends were in town and we were going out. Family would be coming in to celebrate Christmas.

Then without warning, my throat seemed a little sore. I felt a little tired. I was chillier than usual. And quicker than St. Nick could fly up the chimney, I had 101.5 temperature and I was on my way to the doctor’s office. I had a raging case of Strep Throat and was sick as a dog, three days before Christmas. I surrendered. Sometimes you get to a place where you have no fight left in you. You can do nothing but take your anti-biotic and lie down. I was there.

Each day I got a little better. I even made it to Christmas Eve services to hear the girls sing with the praise team. As the evening drew to an end, I found myself very tired and a little down. I didn’t feel well and it didn’t feel like Christmas! I would just have to muddle through.

Christmas morning is always great fun. The most enjoyable part of the morning is watching the girls unwrap their gifts and delight in the surprises Santa has left for them. Never did I expect to find something under the tree for me, from Santa. So on this Christmas morning, I was transported back in time to a place where we wore Holly Hobby nightgowns and crocheted slippers. For a moment in time, I was the sleepy-eyed little girl, discovering her fabulous gifts in great surprise. There were sparks of magic in the air, laughter, tears and wonderment.

In a big pink box there was a Barbie Party Bus, complete with lights, sounds and most importantly a hot tub, under the tree with a big gift tag reading, “To: Tara, From: Santa”. I think for a moment we were all a little confused. I read the tag and began to laugh and in a flash, I was back in the seventies, with MaMa and PaPa there behind me, Aunt Bobbie saying, “Tara, you must have been a very good girl”, my mother and daddy taking pictures with their Kodak Insta-Matic with the flashbulb cube and my brother grumbling about how I get all the good toys.

I looked up at Charlie in utter disbelief and caught him staring with a gleam in his eye and a smile as big as Dallas. He had captured the Christmas magic of years gone by. He had saved the “Strep Throat Christmas” and given me the most precious gift a girl could ever imagine. I’ve been blessed to receive beautiful jewelry, precious stones, diamonds, the finest perfume, expensive clothes; but this year, it was the gift of love from a wonderful husband who wanted to give me Christmas ’76—bigger , better and totally Barbie!

I don’t know how you can top that!