They were new, unique and–for awhile anyway–in good supply. Box after box lined up the shelf of the local Woolworth store. With a glorious clear cover on the front, the boxes held Cabbage Patch Kids: the greatest thing to come along since the doll was invented.
Each child came with his or her own birth certificate, first and middle names, and special details. Some had curly hair, some straight, some had freckles, others had porcelain-like skin. What made them a new and cool thing were the inclusive true to life human features: some Kids were made with braces and glasses, others came in wheelchairs.
For me, it was the Cabbage Patch Preemie that sealed the deal. Complete with hospital bracelet, extra clothing, and special care instructions, one of those babies I just had to have.
True to my family’s economic culture however, we didn’t have tons of toys, and my parents never purchased items while they were the newest thing. They were savvy enough to wait until the craze was over and prices dropped.
Which is why, at some Christmas in the early eighties, I was disappointed–but not necessarily suprised– when a Preemie did not appear under the tree. When the gift wrap was just about to be cleaned up, and the tinsel thrown out, my dad pointed to a note stuck in the back behind some ornaments. The note instructed me to go look in the workshop for my final gift. Running in there and tearing off the wrapping paper, my screams of joy could probably be heard around the neighborhood.
I still have her.
Good old Dad had managed to find the perfect preemie for his girl. He didn’t need to fight horrible crowds or knock anyone over in order to achieve success. Shrewd planning and a well-timed trip to the store–along with the excellent element of true surprise meant more to me than anything.