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An Expensive Trip Down Memory Lane

December 06, 2021

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When I was young, I could remember everything.

I know that's not surprising anyone.

A good memory in your youth is kind of a staple.

Santa's Christmas Village Paper Book

However, my memory was extra sharp.

And people told me that all the time.

I could remember the smallest details, names, dates, events and I could recount conversations verbatim - much to my husband's dismay, at times - for years.

However, once I crossed that line at 50 things started to change. Again, not a big surprise.

Certain experiences have seemingly been wiped from my brain.

While my recollection of others has suddenly become much more pronounced.

Almost as if room was intentionally cleared so the really important memories could stand out.

And boy do they.

Most of them involve my children, my husband and the wondrous days when I was small. Some are so rich and vibrant, I can almost smell my mother's Chanel No 5.

Lovely.

Naturally, during the holidays, those memories seem to be strongest, and for the past several years one memory in particular has been living my head.

It's of me, playing with a paper doll Christmas village in my childhood home.

Paper Christmas Village Page

I couldn't have been more than six or eight years old, moving those cardstock figures around the coffee table in the living room, lost in a Victorian era setting.

And the world of makebelieve.

I could see my mom in the kitchen, hear carols coming from the record player, knowing my dad would be home from work soon. For dinner.

Idyllic times before my whole world fell apart.

Especially in hindsight, through the warm haze of nostalgia

I loved that silly set so much that when it started to crumble, I used scotch tape to hold it all together. Honestly, I probably played with it long after it was in usable condition.

Vintage Christmas Paper Dolls

And long after it was appropriate for a girl to be lost in the land of paper dolls.

But Christmas is a magical time when childlike wonder and behavior is encouraged. Plus it was a warm and familiar tradition when things weren't feeling that way in my home.

Then one sad Christmas season, I noticed that my beloved set was gone. It just disappeared from the holiday stash, never to be seen again.

I think by that time, I'd lost interest in moving my favorite girl around town, shopping with her basket for the perfect holiday dinner, but I always liked looking at it.

Setting it up on the table.

Christmas Paper Doll Girl with a shopping basket

Catching a glimpse of it on my way to school or practice.

A holiday staple that would always be there.

Instead, it had become another precious piece of my life that was taken away and whether it was a metaphor for the loss of my father or just a kid's sadness over losing a favorite toy, I'm not sure.

Either way, its vanishing act has always made my heart ache just a little.

For years, I've thought about that set. Pictured myself kneeling in front of it, admiring the details on the paper, of the ladies' faces, the shop contents.

The cat in the window.

And that inexplicable feeling of home it conjured deep inside.

Never more than in the few years since my mother passed

Funny, that in all of my time working online it never dawned on me to look for it. Or maybe it did, but all I had was some pictures in my head to go on and the book seemed so obscure.

One Dollar Paper Doll Book

I mean, I'm sure my mom didn't pay much for it and probably picked it up at the local drug store. In my tiny town. In the early 70's. Where would I even start? 

Well, a few weeks ago, overcome by the emotion of the season, and prompted by Frank Sinatra's Old Fashioned Christmas lyrics I sat down at the computer, typed in Christmas Village Paper Dolls, and lo and behold, there it was.

With a quick click of a button, I'd found it.

There were pictures of each page.

Every house, shop, person and animal.

Including that cat.

Black Cat Paper Dolls

In perfect condition, just as I remembered. And I needed to have it. 

Of course, nostalgia does not come cheap. 

The book was listed for almost $50. Yikes.

So like any good shopper, I hit the web again, this time I was armed with the book title and publisher, and found one more.

Whitman Christmas Book with the publishing details circled

Unfortunately, it was the same price and in worse condition. No. That would not do. 

I'm a bargain shopper. I make things over buying.

I go to thrift stores and use coupons. Paying $50 for an item I was never going to use, on a sentimental whim, didn't fit. 

And I walked away.

Clearly, based on my photos, you know that I logged on again and bought the book. My kids and my husband told me I was crazy not to get it.

That I'd told the tale of my special village too many times to count, always ending the story with, I wish you guys could've seen it...

They said that I spoiled them all repeatedly without a second thought and that I should treat myself right away.

Before that book disappeared again.

So I did.

I wish I could say that now, in my fifties, I'm much more sophisticated than I was all those years ago and that it would take a whole lot more to impress me than an old book filled with a bunch of paper dolls.

But I can't.

Christmas Paper Dolls Book on cake plate with trees

I literally cried when that package showed up.

My beloved memory. There in my hands. For me to touch and hold.

It was like traveling back in time for a few precious moments.

To get a warm hug from my mom.

To hear my dad say he was home.

And to celebrate Christmas among old friends.

Because old friends are the best friends.

Even if they're just paper.

🎄🎄🎄

What's your favorite holiday memory?














  1. Beautiful, Kim! You gotta do what your heart tells you to do.
    Brenda

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    1. Thanks Brenda! I'm glad I listened to it. And to my family!!

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  2. A beautiful story and beautifully told...I'm teary eyed

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    1. Thank you so much, Linda! Those words mean everything to the writer in me...

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  3. That was lovely. You made me tear up. I'm glad you bought it - even if it was $50! Enjoy it for years to come.

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    1. Thanks Dalila! Now that I have it, I can't believe I almost let it go. I might even keep it out for a few extra months!

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  4. Aww, what a sweet memory! You and I are about the same age, so these memories really resonate with me. My mother wore Chanel No 5 too! My mother could just be going out to the grocery store, but she would still have to have a little perfume spritz! Now I do the same. I have such fond memories of Christmas when I was a little girl. We always had a cedar tree that we would hunt for on the hill behind my grandmother's house. It was so fragrant! Then there was the wonderful aroma of sugar cookies, fudge, divinity! I miss my mama and daddy so much too. So glad you were able to find that small piece of Christmas past to treasure once again! May you have a blessed and Merry Christmas!

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    1. Oh, the smell of that perfume really is amazing, isn't it? It reminds me of fancy dinners, stockings with a seam and party gloves. Not that I ever wore them, but my mom used to when she and my dad went out...and my mom did the same, she never left the house without a spritz. There's something about smells that can totally bring us back. I remember my dad's Aqua Velva almost as vividly...or maybe it's just that blue color! Good memories one and all. Thanks for triggering a few more magical ones for me today!! Merry Christmas!!

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  5. What a wonderful, wonderful story. To have a piece of innocent childhood returned to you for even a passing moment is a treasure to be stored. I am glad you got it. Your kids are right- YOU DESERVE IT!
    Happy Memories---xo Diana

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    1. Thanks so much, Diana. It really is an odd feeling to have such deep emotions tied to a bunch of silly pictures in an old book, but I swear the magic they conjure is real. I’m glad I didn’t let it slip away again, too. xxoo

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  6. Such a sweet memory and how lovely your family talked you into getting this special reminder of a childhood Christmas. Tis the season, etc...but you have a special family to see the joy this would bring you. Merry Christmas.

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    1. Merry Christmas and thank you so much, and yes, they are a special bunch indeed. I don't think I'd have that book today without a push from the crowd!

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  7. Oh my goodness Kim I had this exact same set. My mother bought it for me at Kmart. Just past summer I found it in an antique store and it was $50. I stood there forever looking at it ..my husband however rolled his eyes and did not tell me to get it. I have thought about it at least a hundred times since then kicking myself for not getting it! I'm so glad you got it...I literally couldn't believe your story as I was read it. I'm definitely having my husband read this to show him in not the only one who loves an overpriced cardboard village.

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    1. Dena. When I read your comment I was floored. Literally. Then I thought about it and knowing how much we have in common, I was not surprised!! I love that we both had this book and treasured it so much. If you read the comments a bit further, another friend had it, as well!! I think that is wonderful!! If you're still having second thoughts, I can tell you there's another one out there online. It was on eBay. Who knows, the one I have may even be the one you held in your hands. Wouldn't that be funny! If you ever track another down and get it, let me know, we can compare notes...that's almost as good as playing!!

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    2. Well I was laughing when I read your post... because I stood at the antique booth looking at it.... trying to justify the money. But my oldest daughter called my youngest and I heard some hints about Christmas presents and what booth that book was in....so it may just end up under the Christmas tree...and then it will have even more meaning. Also my daughter thought it was crazy that we both had it. But I explained to her that we didn't have Hobby Lobby, Marshalls, TjMax or other stores that were full of Christmas decor. Most stores brought out one aisle of decorations and usually the wrapping supplies were on the same aisle not to mention the Christmas lights. So there were limited choices in the 1970's and 1980's. Then I blew their minds when I said going out the day after Christmas to buy wrapping paper at 50% off back then was just about as big as black Friday shopping is today. I said we didn't have a dollar tree...or anything close to it. Oh but I would not trade my childhood memories for anything! I will keep you posted on if the village shows up under the tree! Merry Christmas Kim.

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    3. Oh Dena, I hope it's there, tucked under the tree and yes, it would be so much more meaningful!! You must keep me posted!! It's funny, I too remember those crazy day after Christmas sales. My mom used to drag us to the stores to buy paper that we wouldn't use for a whole year! So silly, but yup, that's the way it was done!! Merry Christmas my friend!

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  8. This made me stop and think about my beloved Barbie doll from the early sixties. I got Barbie. Older sister got Tammy and younger got Skipper. We cherished and played with these dolls so much. Tattered and worn I bought home to me in my married life. In early 2000 a move to a different city. Lo and behold Barbie went missing. We really loved our toys then because we each only received one. So different from today. Toys were only bought at Christmas. Your story has me thinking about looking for her. She had on an orange sundress with a tightly woven dark hair. You could not brush it in those days, Just maybe shes out still out there.

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    1. Connie, start looking, she's out there, trust me!! If I could find this book, you can find Barbie. I bet she's a classic though and probably more than my paper dolls. It's been very worth it for me though. So many lovely feelings tucked into those pages and it was lovely to visit them again. Christmas is different from today, we only got toys on Christmas and our birthdays, too. It made it all so much more special...Good luck in your hunt and if you find her, let me know!!

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  9. Awe! I am so glad you found it and bought it. I got a little teary eyed reading your post.

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    1. Thanks Penny! It really has been so worth the price. ♥️

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  10. Oh, Kim, you can't put a price on memories! I'm so glad you bought it and now you can treasure it for many more years to come!

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    1. Thanks Ann!! I’m glad I was able to find it online. If I couldn’t you know you would’ve been my next stop!! xxoo

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  11. Oh, Kim, of course you had to buy it. And I'm so proud of your husband and daughters for encouraging you to do so. So, so sweet. You shouldn't feel one bit guilty for spending the money. I figure we DIY'ers and bargain hunters save money just so we can occasionally splurge on something for ourselves, and for others. I can totally understand the nostalgia, and the desire to grasp that memory in a tangible way. I'm willing to bet your family is enjoying this piece of Kim history almost as much as you are. Enjoy every minute of this memorabilia from your childhood, my friend! Hugs.

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    1. Nancy, thank you for the kind words. You always have such sage advice and you’re right, it was well worth the splurge. I’m enjoying having it in my hands once again and we're all enjoying the tales associated with it. This has just become another chapter. Hugs!!

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  12. what a beautifully written memory! I have tears in my eyes as I write this. I have a memory of a little plastic snowman my mom put out at Christmas when I was small. I saw one just like it in an antique store last year but I passed on it. This year it was still there so I got it. And I am so glad I did.

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    1. Oh!! I'm so glad you found it again!! Now that I have that book in my possession, I can totally relate. I know just how you feel. There really is something special about having those cherished items in your hands to touch and hold...and thank you for the kind comment about my writing. It means the world!

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  13. I cried right along with you; so happy you found it! there’s nothing more powerful than great childhood memories!

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    1. Thank you, Sara! I agree wholeheartedly.

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  14. Kim, I am so glad that your husband and daughters encouraged you to buy that paper village. It's wonderful that it brought back those happy memories for you. :)

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    1. Thanks Julie, it really is wonderful to have them at my fingertips and to see those hazy memories come to life again!! I wish you a holiday season full of memories, too. xxoo

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  15. Oh Kim you made my heart smile with your childhood story and so happy the girls and hubby talked you into treating yourself. What a great memory to have and relive today. Happy New Week. xoxo Kris

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    1. Thanks so much, Kris. I’m so glad they were there to coax me into hitting that buy it now button. I doubt I’d ever find it again and I just know I’d regret letting it go twice. I wish you a lovely week, too and thanks for the visit my friend! xo

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  16. Your story was touching! Mine were reading Trixie Beldon mysteries. I still have my books. Some are a bit raggedy, but they are with me. Enjoy looking at your paper dolls. Btw I still have my paper dolls with all their paper clothes. I have wanted to frame them.

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    1. Thank you so much! I have to look up Trixie Beldon mysteries. I was a Nancy Drew fan and I still have a few of those raggedy books around, too. And thank you for the idea. Maybe I should frame my paper dolls. Interesting!!

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  17. The money was well spent to have such a wonderful memory. I'd do it in a second! I loved reading your sweet story. Merry Christmas!

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    1. Thanks so much, AnnMarie! I'm so glad I jumped on it, I actually can't believe I found it without any real details about it. I guess it was meant to be! Merry Christmas!!

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  18. Kim, wait a minute I have to get a kleenex. Such a beautiful story and so well told. From a little girl's point of view I can almost see and feel what you saw and felt. I don't think we really ever grow up and if we can retain those special memories that will keep us young forever. I'm so glad you bought the book because you would never be able to find it again. That is just how those things happen. I can still remember the warm summer breeze I felt sitting under the old acasia tree reading The Secret Garden and I have collected many versions of that book since. I think the world would be a very sad place if we didn't have and hold onto those special memories..Happy Monday, my friend..xxoJudy

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    1. Judy, I agree wholeheartedly, memories like these are precious and I'm glad I didn't pass up my chance to grab that book. Hopefully, now, it will mean something special to my own kids and that silly $1 gift from my mom will become a treasured part of their holidays, as well. And The Secret Garden!? We found that book in my mom's stash last summer, cleaning out boxes, and both my daughter and I read it under the umbrellas by the pool. GREAT story with a lovely message. We haven't collected any other copies, but we did watch every movie version we could find! xxoo

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  19. Yes! You had to buy it and I'm so glad your family told you to. It's a precious memory and I know that actually seeing it again brings those memories to life even more.
    This post made me happy!

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    1. I’m glad they talked me into it, Mari…although, it didn’t take much convincing! It really is a wonderful feeling to have it in my hands and my home again. ❤️

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  20. i just remembered that i do not have any of this sort of Christmas childhood memory. Just recall the year our rescued cat undecorated the tree and took the balls upstairs to my parents bedroom and outlined my father with them. Funny thing, my father supposedly disliked cats but that cat adored him.

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    1. Now that a very, very funny holiday memory and one that I bet makes you smile each time it pops into your head. Our kitties used to climb our trees, they really brought something special to the holidays. Thanks for sharing your memory with me, big smiles over here!!

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  21. I love this story! Are you going to set up the village? I wouldn't be able to resist. And since when do girls become too old to play with paper dolls?

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    1. Thanks Jenny...and you're correct...never too old to play with paper dolls!! So far I haven't gotten that far. I've only been admiring the pictures, getting reacquainted with my old friends. Maybe someday I'll break them out of their paper jail, but for now, I like them where I can keep track of them!!

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    1. Thanks Bobbie!! You’re so right. Now that it’s in my hands, I can’t believe I even thought about passing it up.

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  23. Such a heartwarming story, to be able to find the book all these years later. It may seem like $50 seems like a lot for an old book but it is pretty easy to spend that same number of dollars on something with a lot less value, a tank of gas or a meal out. I am glad that you went ahead and purchased it.

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    1. Lorri, thank you for the perspective. I actually just filled up my gas tank and here in NY it cost me almost double what the book did...and I guarantee you, it brought me absolutely no joy to do so! 😉 I wish you a lovely holiday season!

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  24. Well Kim, little did I know that I would need a tissue before reading this post! I literally clapped with my tear filled eyes at the screen knowing you treated yourself with this cherished gift. Who cares about the $50, you can't put a price on memories like that! I think I've told you this before, probably a few times, but I so enjoy your gift of the written word. Time for another tissue. Merry Christmas! xo

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    1. Marie, after all your kind words, I'm going to need a tissue...or two!! Thank you so much, my sweet friend and Merry Christmas to you!! xo

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  25. Lovely story Kim, so sentimental. You deserve the book and so glad you bought it.
    Memories are so special. The spent $50 is so worth it. Merry Christmas.

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    1. Thank you, Linda! I’ve only had it a few days, but in that time, it’s already brought me so much joy. Definitely worth the price! Merry Christmas!

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  26. I LOVED this story Kim, thank you for sharing your heart with us. I am so happy you found this special Christmas memory.
    Have a blessed week! Love, Carla

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    1. Thank you, Carla! It was a sweet and sentimental find and a lucky one at that. I'm glad I didn't pass it up. Merry Christmas!! xxoo

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  27. That is so sweet, Kim! I'm glad you bought this. Precious memories like that are worth every penny.

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    1. Thank you so much, Melanie! You’re so right, some things really are worth the price!

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  28. Kim I love how you share your heart with us. You have such a sweet and kind heart, too. I love this memory that you shared, and I think you would've been nuts to walk away from such a precious memory from your childhood. I want to see photos of you playing with it!!! ;P

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    1. Ricki, thank you so much. You'll never know how grateful I am for the opportunity to share my heart and for the sweet responses I receive when I do...and so far I've just been flipping through the pages, but I promise, if I start popping those dolls out of their paper and playing, I'll take a video and share!! Haha!!

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  29. Those warm fuzzy memories are always the best. You did good to get the book Kim.

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    1. Thanks Mary! As soon as I hit that "buy it now button" I knew it was the right move.

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  30. Kim! This story brought me to tears. That set is the essence of you! It demonstrates so clearly from where you came and what make you tick all these years later. You had to , simply had to , snap it up. You will look at it and it will conjure up FEELINGS of your Mom and Dad and what brought you joy. You can never put a price on that. I’m so glad you have it.
    Merry Christmas my girl!

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    1. Thank you, Susan! Thank you. It really is a piece of me and it does conjure all sorts of warm, happy, holiday feelings of my parent and of my childhood home. It might be silly, but it does make me smile each time I see it now, propped on my grandmother's piano...and as you said, you can't put a price on that. Merry Christmas to you sweet friend. I hope you're able to conjure a few warm family feelings of your own this season.♥️

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  31. This is a beautiful post, Kim. I'm so glad your family convinced you to get it. My guess is, it will continue to bring you joy, well exceeding the $50 price tag. Memories are precious, and it's nice that you have one to treasure and hold in your hands.

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    1. Thanks so much, Amy. I’m glad they talked me into it…and you’re right. It’s silly, but there’s a peaceful feeling that comes over me whenever I catch a glimpse of it now. Totally worth the fifty bucks.

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  32. Kim your beautiful memories and special moments over the years are worth every penny of 50 dollars. I love this post and hearing about the joy you had of playing with this set. I had the same one! We are close to the same age, I just turned 55. Over the years I have thought about the innocence and simplicity of Christmas and the joy we had from reading the Sears wish book and other things like that, I do not know if it because I am getting older and more nostalgic to hold on to all of my precious memories or if I just love everything about Christmas and always have. Thank you for sharing your heart and your beautiful book. Merry Christmas.

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    1. Elizabeth! I can't believe you had the same set!! This is exciting news. I love the fact that I'm not the only one who remembers those simple days of paper dolls, when it didn't really take much to make Christmas feel so magical. I think that gets lost sometimes now. Finding that book brought a bit of it back. Thanks so much for sharing with me today and Merry, Merry Christmas!

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    2. Your story reminds me of how much I loved the book Lengthy, by Syd Hoff. It was not a holiday book and there were no dolls to punch out, but I imagined having a dog just like the one in the book. Now I have the same breed that Lengthy was, but I can’t find my copy of the book and they are way too pricey online. I immensely enjoyed this blog entry.

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    3. Thanks so much for stopping by to read my tale and to share your own. I'm truly touched...and Lengthy, huh? I had that book, too! I can't believe it's so expensive. I just Googled it and yikes, it's apparently very scarce. Of course, now I'll be keeping my eyes open for a copy at every yard sale and thrift store I visit for you. In the meantime though, I know having the real deal to cuddle and hold is way better than a book!! xo

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  33. I'm so glad you found it and bought it!

    Somethings have value beyond their 'worth.' This is definitely one of those things!

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    1. I totally agree with you, Deanna! Thanks for the visit!

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  34. I love this post. I have so many great memories of Christmas with my mom especially.

    We baked when I was a little one for all the holidays. I remember my job was to make dry ingredients level. My mom held the measuring cups.

    I remember so many vivid memories of Christmas I could take an hour to type.

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    1. I love that we both have so many great memories, Cindy. Sometimes I think about typing them all out somewhere, but for now they live in my head…and sometimes on my blog.

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  35. What a magical and beautiful story. I hope you have assembled the pieces and you are making memories with your own kids now and they're out on display to catch a glimpse of. . I wish I'd had one, my paper dolls weren't as sophisticated.

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    1. Thank you, Claire! So far, I haven't punched out the pieces. I think I'm afraid to ruin the dolls or lose pieces again. We did flip through it a bunch of times this season though and that was fun. Now I just have to remember where I put it when I tuck it away until next Christmas. I think this is a one and done kind of hunt!! Thanks for the visit!!

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  36. I know I've probably asked this a million times, but when are you going to write a book? Or better yet, an online writing class. I'll sign up straight away. You have such a beautiful way with words. And I'm so happy you spoiled yourself. Memories like that are worth more than gold.

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    1. Michelle, you are the sweetest. I do think about writing a book. I even have a title picked out. Maybe one day...xo

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