Every Christmas when I was a little girl, Dad’s parents would send me a Barbie doll. The dolls were collector’s editions and therefore could not be opened. It was practically torture.
And for some Christmases, that was all I got.
There was one year when I woke up before you did so I could sneak a peak at the presents under the tree. We were living in Virginia, still in that split-level white house, and I carefully tiptoed down the stairs while still in my Barbie night gown. I slinked down the hallway and into the den where we always set up the tree.
I found the lone Barbie shaped present wrapped with a bow and shook it gently. The package made the soft rattling sound a twist-tied Barbie and her accessories made.
I creeped up the stairs, leaving the Barbie behind. I went to your bedroom where you were heavily snoring, dead asleep with a light sweat on your face. I nudged you slightly and whispered to you, asking if I could open the box- just this once.
With your eyes still closed and your voice in a mumble, you waved me off and said, “Yeah, sure.” Then you went back to sleep.
I ran down the stairs and tore open the wrapping paper. Sure enough, it was a collectable. In a frenzy, I ripped open the top of the box.
The Barbie, once in my hands, lost all its value but in a way it was the most valuable to me.
I got to play with my Barbie.
After you woke up and realized the damage that had been done, you scolded me and instructed me that this would never happen again. The Barbie collection was going to one day be valuable and by ripping open this Barbie’s box, I ruined its future resale value.
For the first time on a Christmas, I felt guilty.
The first week of this month marked the beginning of your fresh start in your new apartment. With the final move of your remaining belongings from the hoarder apartment, you bestowed upon me the entirety of my Barbie collection.
As I looked at the Barbies I had once longed to play with but could never open, I inspected their packaging. From the years of moving place to place and their stint in the hoarder house, some of their boxes were damaged. They had stood in their plastic tombs, never to be played with, only to be looked at with the hope they would be worth more than whatever my grandparents paid for them.
Seeing those Barbies again made me fall into Ed’s collectanle hoarding trap: maybe they were worth something. I thought maybe the Barbies that aren’t too damaged might be valuable. I just needed to get an Ebay account, buy some shipping supplies, and just wait until the bids started coming in.
But as I struggled to find room in my own apartment for them, I realized that I needed to get rid of them. As I looked at their ball gowns and peered deeply into their painted-on rubber eyes, they had lost all their value to me.
This Christmas, I might cut open those boxes and give them to Dave’s nieces.
The dolls have earned that much.