There she is, Miss America
There she is, your ideal
With so many beauties she took the town by storm
With her all-American face and form
– Miss America Pageant Theme, sung by Bert Parks
Everyone has favorite toys, things from childhood – beloved treasures. For me, those KEY toys were………Barbie, Lego and books (though they don’t qualify for toys – they played a prominent role for me and reading was very much a favorite past time, still is today)…….oh, and Mr. Teddy Bear – but he’s the exception to the rule. He’s not a toy, he’s essentially been my inanimate (shhhh…..don’t tell him that ;) ) my lifelong BFF, confidante, security blanket – all rolled into one, since I was 4. Mr. Teddy Bear and I have been through everything together – but this post is not about Mr. Teddy Bear and his wondrous ways. Perhaps another time…..
While growing up, there were regular “rituals” that were faithfully, dutifully and consistently adhered to: Winter Olympics – Ice Skating events (Dorothy Hamill – so resplendent, captivating and winning hearts globally, including mine, when she won the gold in ’76); Easter time – The Ten Commandments (Charlton Heston version); the standard Christmas Classic shows; Super Bowl; and then there was, the Miss America Pageant. Each year, how I would gleefully look forward to watching this, dreaming the dreams of a little girl – while listening to the melodious performance of Bert Parks while he sang the theme song, year after year after year. To gaze upon all the beautiful young women filled with such hope and vision for the future. My parents lovingly allowed me to indulge in these, even when the show times were rather to extreme (watching the SuperBowl when one is in Europe – you will find yourself still up at 3am or later during that time honored event.)
Although an only child, I was not spoiled by any means. My parents provided for my comfort and needs, and on occasion I would receive some special treats throughout the year. Sometimes my dad would have to go away for military purposes during the time he served and we would miss him very much. On one such trip away, upon his return home, he most unexpectedly surprised me with a very special gift. A stunning and dazzling Miss America Barbie – complete with her crown, luxurious faux fur cape, shiny silver scepter, bouquet of vibrant satin red roses and a most beauteous, flowing, white evening gown and white heels. Truly the most beautiful doll this little girl had ever seen at that point in her life! All my Barbies were so precious to me – they were all loved and cared for and meticulously stored when I wasn’t playing with them and their clothes, shoes and accessories as well. Miss America Barbie – was in a whole another league of her own, she was like the Princess Diana of Barbies. She was truly a possession to be prized and made even more special that she was a most extraordinary gift from my dad who I loved so. I would love and care for her forever………..
While growing up, I somehow developed a peculiar habit – not really great one, at least for me, since most times it did not work to my favor. I don’t know how or why it originated. When I think about it, it’s actually – well, sad – maybe almost pathetic from some angles. One day I plan to gain understanding on the why behind it and some other unexplained similar behaviors/thinking in this life. (again, I digress)…..As a child, I was notorious for giving away my toys, things. Not ALL the time, but enough of the time and the treasured items given away were the “good toys” and “good things”. The reason (which my mom has remembered for years too) was so that I could keep a friend, thinking if I made them happy – basically “buying” their love – that they would stay my friend, even if it were just for one more day, one more week. And so, after not so long a time after I was lovingly gifted with that very special Barbie, Miss America Barbie became THE offering bartered in such an exchange. When she was gone, she was gone – and like a number of these situations – the friendship too soon after was gone, ended. I remembered my parents being upset, probably more hurt – very disappointed that I would give THAT toy up considering the special circumstances surrounding her. I tried to get her back, but to no avail. A regret that would not be forgotten after all this time.
I have somewhat learned over time – that one’s love, friendship, loyalty cannot be bought, bribed or coerced. Any attempts to do so will most assuredly backfire at some point, leaving you kicking yourself for being so foolish yet again – shaking your head as to why you can’t seem to really quite completely learn THE lesson. (sigh………) In recent times, maybe I’m not giving up a favorite toy or spending above my means on the “perfect gift”, but what I have given up, as I’ve gotten older, has been more priceless in nature. Pieces of my heart, my self-respect, my dignity. It has created situations where sacrifices can be taken for granted, where the worth of a person is revealed in the harsh light of truth – leaving a trail of hurt feelings and broken relationships in the wake. It is life – it’s just how it goes. I can’t control the choices of others, no matter how hard I may try.
Still very much a works in progress, I continue to learn and grow. I’ll continue to make missteps, I’ll continue to get up – dust myself off and keep moving forward, hoping to learn the lesson and be better for it. In recent years one thing I have learned with assurance is that there is one relationship where I don’t have to barter or give an offering or “bribe” to receive love. God’s love. It is absolute, it is certain, it is unmoving – and it comes with no hidden agendas and no cost to me. I don’t have to do tricks to earn it. As the sun, moon and stars, the air that we breathe, exist – His love too, for me, for you – for the world……it just, IS……….That constant will remain steadfast – through the darkest of hours, through sun, rain, snow and storms…..no matter what I do, no matter what other stupid mistakes I’ll make, no matter how greatly I may stumble…….I have the comfort of knowing He will forgive me when I confess myself to Him and His love never, ever, EVER fails – NOT even if I foolishly chose to NEVER love Him back, EVER. He would still love me – His heart would still break for me, for being that ONE sheep still astray, still lost and wandering. He gave us free will to choose – whether to love Him or to not love Him. He loves us THAT much that He will not force us to love him. The “sacrifices” made are conscientious choices I make – they are not required. It is the choice I make moment to moment, day to day for gratitude, respect and honor for the ultimate sacrifice He made for me – His son, barbarically nailed to a cross, enduring a pain and loneliness – and rejection by the world He ONLY loved. To such unimaginable and indescribable proportions, for me – for the world. In ransom……NOT to somehow win our love, but to show how much HE loves US – no matter what.
Like the elegant beauties who took that long walk in Atlantic City while being serenaded, I have my own special walk one day. In my vision, I will be in my own ethereal, flowing white gown as I walk the streets of gold, through the pearly gates, being serenaded by the resounding sounds pouring forth from the angelic choir – on the day when I am reunited with my Creator. My own Miss America crowning moment……….all because of the barter He gave for me. Needless to say, it outweighs that of my Miss America Barbie – beyond any comparison, any day of the week.