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The very best Christmas gift

Over the past 53 (ulp) Christmases, many gifts have appeared under my tree. In fact, looking back, there have been far too many gifts -- many more than any one person deserves. There have probably been some duds along the way, but quite honestly, I can't name one.

But the best Christmas gift? I thought that would be easy to name, but after carefully combing the cobwebby recessess of my brain, it simply is impossible to name the best. So okay, I'll go with "some" of the best ones, or at least those I remember. You probably have your own list. In fact, sit down and try to assemble a list. I'd like to read yours.

Let's go way back to the beginning. I don't know when this gift first made it to my house -- you'd have to ask my mom. The gift was a Ruthie doll, or at least that's what I called her. Ruthie was a pretty straightforward doll, fairly small, did nothing other than look blankly at me and listen to my darkest secrets. She didn't walk, talk, pee, skate, or do flips. She just sat there, waiting patiently for me to change her clothes -- none of which came from a store. All were handmade by my mother. But she had one very unusual characteristic. Every year for about four years, she reappeared under the tree with a new head of hair. I never understood how this happened, but that doll -- once a dark brunette -- became a blonde, raven-haired, maybe even a redhead. I've forgotten all the colors. Sometimes she had short curly hair, other times long and straight. Oddly, though I gave up playing with her, I never disposed of her. Somewhere in our attic, she reclines, shorn of most of her hair. Poor Ruthie.

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