The Fed-Ex Angel

By Kim Seeley

The Fed-Ex Angel

It was Christmas time, in the early 1980s. Bing Crosby was crooning on my CD player, “May your days be merry and bright,” but my days were not merry and bright. My days were frantic and melancholy. My nights were anxious, and my dreams were disturbing. What was the problem, you might ask? It was simple, yet not so simple. I did not have my four-year-old daughter the one thing she wanted for Christmas.

It was the midst of the Cabbage Patch Kid craze. Every little girl in America wanted one. They were the “hot item” of the season. Of course, my daughter, Melissa, wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid. Unfortunately, I had been unable to find one, despite many trips to the mall, phone calls to various retailers, and orders placed in every major toy catalogue. I had even ordered catalogues that I had never used before. This was before the days of Amazon and e-bay; but it would have made no difference. The manufacturers simply could not keep up with the demand. All of my orders were returned, marked “out-of-stock,” or “shipment pending.”

Of course, I did not go to the extremes that some mothers did. I refused to become involved in a slugfest the day after Thanksgiving, which did take place at a mall close to me. This is the epitome of the holiday spirit, assaulting another mother because you both grabbed the Cabbage Patch Kid box at the same time. I chose not to participate. I did, however, call various stores and attempt to find out when a shipment of dolls would arrive, but they were not helpful. They refused to confirm that the truck would actually contain the coveted dolls, or they would be purposefully vague about the time of arrival. I suppose the store personnel were overwhelmed with requests for the yarn-haired, vinyl-faced objects of desire.

By the end of November, I had already resorted to Plan B. I had found a homemade Cabbage Patch look-alike at a craft show. She was the same size and wore the same type clothes as the Cabbage Patch Kids, but her face was cloth. She was adorable. A hospital near me, aware of the Cabbage Patch dilemma, was offering to mail adoption certificates, similar to the ones that came in the box with the genuine dolls. I ordered the adoption certificate and made it look as genuine as I could. But I knew Melissa would take one look at her doll and know she was not the real deal. I did not have the manufacturer’s box, and the doll did not have a vinyl face.

That Christmas season seems a bit overcast in my memory, even to this day. We took our annual trip to see the “real” Santa in Richmond at Miller and Rhoads with my sisters and their children. We had a lovely time at our lunch with Santa. We watched him drink his milk all in one gulp. We each had a piece of reindeer cake. We admired the beautiful Christmas decorations inside the stores and in the sidewalk windows. We stood in line so that each child could speak to the Santa, who somehow, magically, called him or her by name and asked about his hometown. But this year, when Melissa asked Santa for a Cabbage Patch Kid, my heart sank. I knew that on Christmas morning, she was going to be disappointed.

I realize that many people think this is so trivial. After all, a doll is not the reason for the season. Of course not, I was aware of that. Nor was my daughter a greedy little spoiled brat who asked for too much. I limited my children’s Santa list to no more than three items and some surprises. That way, they could prioritize their wish list and leave some element of serendipity on Christmas morning. When Melissa was a toddler, her three items were glue, tape, and M&M’s. She really asked for so little that it disturbed me all the more that I could not find a genuine Cabbage Patch Kid.

I continued my search throughout the month of December, calling all the companies where I had placed catalog orders. They were all noncommittal. They were waiting on shipments from the manufacturer. I went to the mall toy stores before they opened, hoping to snag one doll. I never had any luck. At least, I had my Plan B doll and adoption certificate, and Melissa would have a lovely Christmas, with a few surprises.

Finally it was Christmas Eve. I needed to make a last minute run to the local grocery store, and my husband stayed home with Melissa. I picked up ingredients to make my grandfather his favorite coconut pie and my aunt’s favorite Jell-O salad. The aunts and uncles had the turkey and ham covered, but I knew I was expected to make these two items each holiday season. I left the store totally focused on my contributions to the family Christmas dinner.

As I pulled into my driveway, I noticed a cardboard Fed-Ex box on my doorstep. My heart skipped a beat. Could it be? I checked the label – Sears Catalog Department. I brought the box to my car and opened it. It was a real, authentic, genuine Cabbage Patch Kid! I was so relieved and happy that I cried, just a little.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I had prayed for a doll for my daughter. I just saw this as a small Christmas miracle, delivered by a Fed-Ex angel. Thank you, Sears. Thank you, Fed-Ex. And thank you to the One who listens to even the smallest, most insignificant prayers. Merry Christmas to all! And to all, a good night!

About this writer

  • Kim Seeley Kim Seeley, a former librarian and English teacher, lives with her husband, Wayne, in Wakefield, Virginia. She is a frequent contributor to Sasee and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her most recent story, “Amanda’s Jonquils,” can be found in Chicken Soup: Messages from Heaven. She loves to read, play the piano, travel and spend time with her grandson, Evan.

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