For Christmas, we gave K all of the Barbies with which my sister and I once played. (I know: Barbies. Sigh. I get the problems with Barbies. I get them. And we chose to give them to K anyway. May God have mercy on my soul.) There were a lot of Barbies, and clothes, and tiny pink and purple accessories. As I opened up the box and sorted through them, so many memories came flooding back. Everything about them was familiar in a strange and far-off way, as though I remembered them without actually remembering them.
The crazy thing was that they were almost all dressed in some fashion, as though they had been right in the middle of play when they’d been packed away. What really happened was that there was some time–some very last time–when I played with these Barbies. They put on their fancy outfits (most of which were sewn by my grandmother and way more appropriate) and rode around on their horse and then they were dropped in lieu of homework or dinner or maybe, by that age, a phone call. And never picked up again.
These transitions make me sad, to look around at the giant Lego collection or the art boxes and realize that someday, they will be played with for the very last time. And what’s more troubling is that the time will pass without me noticing it, only to be recognized when I realized the [blank] hasn’t been played with for six months or a year. Everything in the house feels so alive right now, and the thought of it dying could break me.
Instead, I try to lighten my load by focusing on the seasonality God created within us: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Yes, the Lego/Big Bear/Barbie season will pass. Yes, that’s a moment I can already be assured I’ll miss, like the last time I rocked a child to sleep or the last time I spoon fed them yogurt. But the beauty of the passing of a season is that one close marks the opening of something else. Soccer tournaments. Giggling with girlfriends. A first kiss. Barbies ended, but something amazing surely began in its place, and just as I cannot anticipate the endings, I will be surprised also by the beginnings.
And after the season passed, my mom packed those Barbies up, dressed up and all, and put them in a box. Many seasons later, I opened the box and redressed the naked ones (naked Barbies just make them seem wrong) and passed them along for another season. Joy revisited, seasonally.