I’m in the final stages of finishing Christmas gifts for the children in Wanblee. My husband is hoping that Santa’s workshop comes to an end soon so he can find a place to sit. As toys get made they seem to gravitate to the chairs and the sofas in the house. The other day he walked into the den and asked when the nursery was going to close, the sofa and floor were covered with the dolls and doll beds I’ve been making. He quickly took a picture saying, “Other people need to see what I have to put up with”! “Scrooge”, I said and then we both laughed.
He does have reason to complain though, he’s been dealing with this for many a Christmas. When I was in charge of the Family Committee for our local Habitat for Humanity where I volunteered for 9 years we held a yearly Christmas party for the families with children as our main focus. Our home was the drop off site for donations. As more homes were built, the Christmas list also grew. The last Christmas that I was involved with Habitat we had well over 200 gifts to assemble. It was all worth it though to see a child’s face light up when Santa called their name and presented them with a gift.
Dolls offer lots of learning opportunities. I remember the baby doll I received one Christmas complete with many outfits sewn by my mother and aunt. I spent many hours playing and caring for my “baby”.
I have 2 grandsons now and made them both dolls knowing it’s never too early to teach nurturing skills. I made the first grandson a doll when the second one was on the way. After baby brother made his entrance into the world he emulated what his mother did for his new brother with his “baby”. When mom breastfed, he breastfed his doll, when she cuddled the baby he cuddled his, when baby went for a walk in the stroller he walked his, and when new brother was tucked into bed he put his baby to bed. My youngest grandson loved to look and touch the doll’s face and cuddle with it on his playmat. While both of them prefer their trucks and trains and other “boy toys” their dolls still play a role during playtime.
When I volunteered in the kindergarten at our local school certain boys and girls during free play time gravitated towards caring for the dolls in the classroom making sure that they got fed, changed and put to bed. While I can’t be sure I’m guessing these children were caring for the dolls as their parents cared for them and their siblings.
And I remember when my son was in middle school, kids were given a baby (a sack of flour) along with a schedule of feeding times, etc. for their infant so they could learn the responsibility of taking care of a newborn and how hard it is to be a teen parent. Well after a few days of lugging the sack of flour around he’d had enough and left the”baby”in his locker. While we laughed at his carelessness it presented a good time to talk about how much work it is to raise a child. He got the message intended by the experiment. Today he doesn’t have any children but will be a good father if he so decides. I watch how he interacts with his nephews and how patient he is with them when they play together.
If you’re interested in learning how to make a doll bed read this blog post. I ended up making 13 of them thanks to neighbors and friends who knew what I was up to and dropped off their clementine boxes and fabric remnants for the project. As for the dolls, I bought some and made some, see patterns here ,here, here and here. Dolls can also be knitted and crocheted .Check out your local library for craft books with doll patterns.
My most thrilling find was a set of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls that I purchased for $10 at a thrift store and being in such great condition I’m thinking they may have been part of someone’s collection.
Toys don’t have to be expensive, they can be home made or gently used and range from simple board books and blocks for the little ones to art and crafting materials for the older ones. Search the web for many blogs that offer free patterns for toys that can be knit, sewn, crocheted or crafted from recycled items, wood, etc. Simple toys can teach children concepts they need to learn and have been time tested and kid approved, no batteries needed!
A word of warning to those dropping by my house during the holiday season, it’s a MESS! Bringing a little holiday cheer to children who live hard lives every day of the year makes me feel good and is well worth the time, money, mess (and occasional comments from the husband). I figure he can deal with this chaos for a few weeks /months out of the year. Don’t you agree dear?