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  • Writer's pictureMichele Olson

Christmas 1961 - She Spoke Volumes

Michele Olson (see pic below :))

She was all I could think about. All I wanted was for Santa to put her under the tree, and my life would be perfect. Her name was Chatty Cathy, and every ad on our black and white TV seemed to entice me with her blinking blue eyes and pageboy styled blond hair, a perfect match of mine. Oh, if I could only get Chatty Cathy for Christmas, my five-year-old heart would burst with satisfaction. She was not only a coveted doll for how cute she was, but she could talk! Imagine the conversations we would have tucked under the quilt my Grandma made me long after the grownups had retired for the evening.

At our house, we knew our parents handled the gifts wrapped under the tree. On Christmas morning, there was one unwrapped gift left there by Santa after he had feasted on the milk and cookies my brother and sister and I left for him. We made the yearly trip to a Pittsburgh department store to stand in line until it was finally our turn to sit on his lap and let him know, without a doubt, what we wanted to see under the tree. My parents assured us that asking was no guarantee of getting what you wished for, and to be sure and ask for several things, so Santa could choose which gift he wanted to give you. I couldn’t bear to ask for anything but Chatty Cathy. I didn’t want to waste any breath on the idea that he would pick something for me other than the beloved treasure of this talking friend my heart desired.

Finally, Christmas eve arrived and we kids could hardly stand the wait as the Chipmunks sang over the radio for the days leading up to the big day. At the crack of dawn, we bolted to our parent’s bedroom. We didn’t dare break the rule of anyone heading downstairs until our parents said we could go down. Minutes seemed like hours as we waited for them to use the bathroom and give us the “all systems go” to head down for the glorious treasures!

Then the moment came. We could go downstairs! Oh, the magic of the moment, to wait and see what Santa brought! We knew the big gift was going to be under the tree, unwrapped in all its glory, left there by the big man in red himself who had made it down our chimney to leave gifts. We never questioned the fact that we didn’t have a fireplace. He knew how to work around minor issues when it came to getting toys to kids. We almost fell down the stairs trying to beat each other to the tree, and then it happened. My wildest dreams were realized! There she sat. The one-and-only Chatty Cathy, the pride of all dolls, in living color sitting there waiting for her first hug from me.

I picked her up, gave her a hug, and braced myself to have our maiden conversation­ ‑ one that would be the first of many for us to become the best of friends. I don’t think anyone else was looking at what happened next, because my brother and sister were both enthralled with what Santa left them, of which I have no recollection. I was too mesmerized by Cathy’s presence herself in my house! Then I did it. I grasped the round circle coming out of the back of her neck and pulled it out, let go, and looked on in great anticipation to hear what her first words would be. Instead of hearing her voice, the small plastic circle stayed on my finger, came apart from the string, and the string went right inside the minuscule hole in the back of her neck, all without her uttering a word.

That’s when the world stood still. This can’t be! I looked at my mom and dad and showed them what happened. They did some examination and concluded, that was too bad, but there was nothing to be done. I was told to play with her as she was, she just wouldn’t be able to talk.

What was the greatest joy in my life suddenly turned into the biggest catastrophe. Cathy couldn’t speak, and no one was going to do anything about it. It was the early 60s before kid's tears and terror held high regard in the eyes of adults. At that moment, I had one of the biggest resolves of my young life. I would love her anyway. She would never speak, but she would be my dearest treasure. Cathy would be a listener, and she would still know my secrets, and maybe, just maybe, I would know her thoughts as I stared at her blue eyes with the dark lashes that blinked when her head was tipped.

I never forgot that Christmas, the anticipation, the disappointment, and the resolve to go on when things didn’t work out the way I wanted. That moment was a far greater lesson than a Cathy who spoke and could have been cast aside a year or two later when a shiny new toy arrived from Santa. She was a special Cathy, the one meant for me.

I think that life lesson laid the groundwork for a greater truth I would learn five years later at age ten. That was the first time I understood the real meaning of Christmas. How God was disappointed in what was happening with His creation and wanted to speak to us in a way that would change our world. He chose to send His Son in human form, as a baby, to grow up and die on a cross. He made a way for anyone who would accept the gift He sent to reconcile humankind to fellowship with The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Now when the Father sees me, He also sees Jesus, the risen Christ who bore the punishment that should have been mine. That’s the gift the beats anything – even Chatty Cathy under the tree!

From Isaiah 9, Message version:

For a child has been born—for us!

the gift of a son—for us!

He’ll take over

the running of the world.

His names will be- Amazing Counselor,

Strong God,

Eternal Father,

Prince of Wholeness.

His ruling authority will grow,

and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.

I hope this Christmas finds you celebrating the Christ child and the great gift we have received in His coming in human form. As you see, Cathy is still with me, 60 years later. It’s true, she never uttered a word, but instead, she still speaks volumes.

Merry Christmas Blessings to you from Michele and Ray and Lake Girl Publishing. We look forward to bringing you more Mackinac Island Stories in the New Year! Thank you for reading and spreading the word of these stories that Fuel Faith with Fiction! And God Bless Us, Everyone!


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