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My Turn: A Christmas saved by the holiday spirit - and Cabbage Patch Kids

Christmas 1983 was saved by Grandma Rossi, who

Christmas 1983 was saved by Grandma Rossi, who was able to buy the Cabbage Patch Kids. Credit: Joanne Fraser

Most baby boomers — now grandparents — have humorous stories of trying to acquire the “must have” gifts of Christmases past. In my case I have two stories, though I’m not the central character in either.

In 1983 I had just returned to full-time teaching after an extended stint as a stay-at-home mom. The Cabbage Patch Kids craze was sweeping the nation, but I had no time to wait on early-morning lines in hopes of getting three — yes, three — dolls for my young daughters. I resigned myself to this fact and focused on what I could get them.

As Christmas approached, I panicked and in tears told my mom in Florida about my predicament. Her response was “I’ll see what I can do.” Well, leave it to mom to enlist two friends so the senior trio arrived at Kmart at 4 a.m. for the 8 a.m. opening. And they got the dolls!

But that’s not the entire story. Mom had her car in Florida and couldn’t make the 1,300-mile drive alone so she hired a service to transport it while she flew up. Afraid to check the dolls at the airport for fear they would disappear, she locked them in her car trunk, then refused to give the trunk key (yes, back then trunk locks were different from door locks) to the driver.

When the driver arrived at my house, mom had already arrived on a morning flight. She immediately opened the trunk to inspect the precious cargo: three Cabbage Patch dolls! Christmas in the Fraser house, compliments of Grandma Rossi had been saved!

My second story is about my good friend Vivian’s experience obtaining a Cabbage Patch doll. Like my mom, she dutifully got up during the night, waited hours in line for the store to open, then quickly walked to the toy department to get the doll. Breathing a sigh of relief as she held it, she was startled when another customer literally spiked the doll from her grasp and ran to a register with it. The offending woman was soon lost in the crowd — and by then all the dolls had been handed out. As Vivian started to cry, then sob, a kindly worker tried to console her. The worker said that there might be an extra doll in the stockroom, but it was a “really strange-looking one.” He went to retrieve a boy Cabbage Patch Kid who was bald. Vivian’s daughter loved him with all her heart on that very unique Christmas morning. And a kind worker had saved Christmas for my dear friend.

Now it’s 2019, and there doesn’t appear to be anything so in demand — except perhaps a new iPhone — that folks are lining up for.

The craze for a must-have Christmas gift, like a Cabbage Patch doll, an Atari game system or Tickle Me Elmo stuffed toy, seems to be relegated to the story of Christmases past. On that note, I wish you all a happy holiday season!

Joanne Fraser,


YOUR STORY Letters and essays for My Turn are original works by readers that have never appeared in print or online. Share special memories, traditions, friendships, life-changing decisions, observations of life or unforgettable moments for possible publication. Email, or write to Act 2 Editor, Newsday, 6 Corporate Center Dr., Melville, NY 11747. Include name, address, phone numbers and photos if available. Edited stories may be republished in any format.

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