An unexpected gift


The unexpected gift didn’t arrive in the usual way. It wasn’t a gift from a loving parent to a child. In the house where the smallest of small now resides, there were no birthdays to celebrate that day, the next, or even weeks ahead. Long ago the Easter Bunny bounced back to its burrow, and Christmas was still hundreds of days away. This ordinary day was about to become anything but. Disruption of routine in the house would continue for months on end.

It all started by a knock on the front door, a knock that came from a dainty hand of an extraordinary girl. It was a girl who was about to grow up a little bit more by giving her most cherished possession away. One still filled with hours of her childhood memories.

Just prior to the gift’s arrival, familiar notes were heard. Since the age of 2, her routine had been the same. The extraordinary little girl with waist-length silky black hair sat next to her father on a piano bench playing and practicing for hours, not knowing the sweet notes she played on the keyboard were passing through walls and floating across the open space between the two houses and eventually reaching the ears of her neighbors.

There, they evoked silent smiles of wonderment at her growing accomplishment and mastery of such a difficult instrument. The extraordinary little girl next door had indeed matured beyond her years. Giving away her most cherished possession proved it with yet another piece of evidence.

If asked, her parents would say they were as surprised as any. The idea to give it away came solely from her. They thought she would never part with the blue and white dollhouse. Given to celebrate her fourth birthday, she played with it most every day. From Barbie and her friends, to tiny ballerinas, and even for a short time, a family of lovable Trolls, the three-story house had been home to them all. Even though, over the years, occupants of the dollhouse had varied greatly, one thing was always constant: memories of joy the house had brought her.

The loving times she spent playing with her parents would forever be a part of her being. They too had passed the current dollhouse occupants through those blue front doors to cook dinner in the kitchen and then eat around the ornate mahogany dinning room table. Afterwards, they’d watched television as a family while resting on a white couch in the living room before eventually scaling the pink staircase to the floors above. After quickly brushing their teeth in the bathroom, they made their way to bedrooms where each were told a bedtime story and put to sleep for the night.

With her parents by her side, she gave a tentative knock on the front door of her neighbor’s house. It was time to grow up just a little bit more. After all, she was to start high school the following week. Her three-story blue and white dollhouse she was about to give away, but the memories fostered by it she would keep for a lifetime.

The house found a new home and would bring joy to the smallest of small resident and her older sister. She knew her neighbors well. Soon the current residents of the dollhouse would no longer be Barbie and her friends, tiny ballerinas, or lovable Trolls. They would all have to vacate the three-story blue and white dollhouse because of the onslaught.

A stampeding hoard of zoo animals and dinosaurs would soon overrun every inch of the structure. But that was okay. After all, those would be their fun childhood memories, not hers. She knocked on the door. It opened and two wide-eyed little girls started new memories.

As the extraordinary little girl walked away with her parents, she wiped away a tear and smiled.

Daena, for your most gracious and unexpected gift – thank you. Our two granddaughters, Little One and Sweet Caroline, have not stopped playing with it since you presented it to them. The house will stay in our family and, perhaps one day, be passed down to their little girls.

Maybe by that time Barbie and her friends would’ve fought off the stampeding zoo animals and dinosaurs and regained the residence once again.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog:]