When I was a kid, our Sears had an area set up like a hospital nursery, where you could look through the window at all the Cabbage Patch dolls. Now, you can buy them at Kmart, but then, each one was handmade, down to the flush of pink on their bottoms. They came all the way from Georgia, with exotic names like “Claire” and “Maximillian,” and you couldn’t leave with one until you recited an oath and signed the birth certificate.  

Every time my parents asked what I wanted for Christmas, I told them I wanted one of those Cabbage Patch dolls. And they’d give me every reason to forget about it. Those dolls were too expensive. Too ugly. You couldn’t take one in the tub. They couldn’t afford one. And I’d tell them they didn’t have to worry, because I’d been good. Santa would bring me one. 

Christmas morning came, and Santa did not come through. But Mommaw did. She’d made me an “adoption doll” with wavy brown hair, just like mine, and beautiful, hand-painted eyes. I pulled back the diaper to check her bottom. 

Pink!  

My joy had no bounds. 

Last month, right around Christmas, Mommaw was in and out of the hospital, so it got me thinking about my doll and how much love had gone into her. It also gave me an idea.

Next Christmas, I want to give 100 African-American and Hispanic dolls to the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, in honor of my mommaw.  

Why African-American and Hispanic dolls? They can be incredibly hard to find. When I was looking for dolls to donate to Toys for Tots, one store had dozens of white dolls and nothing else. And doesn’t every girl want a doll who looks like her? I sure did. And I want to help make that happen for other girls. 

I want to pass that love on. 

When I told Mommaw about my idea, she said, “Well, won’t that be wonderful?,” and we started scheming about how to get it done. I’m just so excited about the whole idea of it, imagining all those smiling faces next Christmas. Including mine and Mommaw’s.