I used to tease Crystel that I was going to give her seven American Girl dolls to the nursing home. But, it really wasn’t teasing. “Why do you need so many dolls?” I’d ask.
One of my first jobs was as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home. I recall women lovingly stroking a doll’s hair, cradling the doll, and putting the doll to sleep. The doll was like her baby. I thought, what better home for these 18 inch life-sized dolls of Crystel’s?
When the children were young, their giving amounted to them filling up a paper bag with toys to give away before they could get a new toy. “We have to make room,” I’d tell them. From there we moved on to going through their closets and dressers to give away clothes they had outgrown.
Antonio and Crystel are 13 now.
Recently, Crystel joined me at the police station. She was assisting me with maintenance on police cars. This amounts to going through a check sheet to make sure all the bells, whistles and lights work on the cars and that there is a teddy bear in the trunk. Teddy bears help police officers relate to youngsters after car accidents, domestic violence, and abuse. I had explained this to Crystel. She decided that she’d add one of her Monster Dolls to each teddy bear. It intrigued her that some random person would get her doll.
A couple of weeks after that Crystel decided that we could give away a doll crib and American Girl doll hair salon chair. I walked the items over to our neighbor. She had a visitor. The visitor’s eyes lit up when she saw them. “I might have an American Girl doll to go with these,” I told her. “I’ll have to check with Crystel.”
Crystel brought out Molly. She sat on the floor and carefully changed Molly’s clothes. She wanted her to be dressed in the same clothes that she had come to her in from the American Girl doll store. I couldn’t help but think how similar this looked to Jody and I bringing Crystel home from Guatemala. Crystel and I talked about that as she was straightening out the pleats of Molly’s dress and picking out an extra outfit for her.
After brushing Molly’s bangs, she straightened out the red ribbons that held her braids tight.
“Ready?” I asked.
We walked across the street and knocked on the door.
Crystel handed her doll to the lady that neither of us knew. The woman wiped away tears. She said that she hadn’t worked for a few months because she had been caring for her sick mother. In doing so, she didn’t get paid and was worried about what she was going to give her granddaughter for her 5th birthday and for Christmas. That was until Crystel gifted her.
The following week Crystel went to the Mall Of America with Jody. I was shocked when she came home with new outfits from the American Girl doll store bought with her own money. I thought we were giving away American Girl dolls and their clothes, not buying more. Then Crystel explained, “I’m going to take a doll to Guatemala on our next trip to give to some random person,” she said. “I want the doll to look nice.”