Muñecas de Papel.

Growing up as a child of the 80's on a tropical island that shared colonial status with the United States, we had a mish-mash (and still do) of holidays and celebrations we observed. We celebrate 4th of July but had no part in the Declaration of Independence; we eat pumpkin pie and carve our turkeys like the faithful pilgrims on Thanksgiving but were nowhere near Plymouth Rock; Mother's Day and Father's Day is celebrated with much aplomb and shopping frenzies at the mall, because we MUST be the best children on these days.  With the same enthusiasm we also celebrate El Grito de Lares; July 25th is our Constitution Day; and after the madness that is Christmas and Santa Clós on December 25th, we get a second chance to get MORE gifts on January 6th, which is "El día de Los Reyes Magos" or Three Kings' Day.

Well, the story goes that the Three Kings brought Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh after he was born on this day, little of which we cared for. We just wanted más regalos! My dad would pile my two sisters (and later, my little brother too) and myself in our pajamas at dusk into his black Nova (later, black Volvo), and we would go off into an urban "field" close to our house in Parkville, shoeboxes in excited hands. My dad would wield his Isabelian machete with the expertise of a true caña-cutter (even though the most caña cutting he had ever done was cutting people down to size in court) and chop the tall grass for us to put into our shoeboxes for the Reyes' camellos to eat, because camels get really hungry while traipsing around the world (or, the parts of the world that celebrated three kings' day) delivering gifts. I actually found all this to be more exciting than celebrating Christmas, because we had more of a hand in working for our gifts than just making a wish-list letter and planting it on the tree.

Regardless of all this hard work, we were always taught that only 1 of the Three Kings would bring our gifts, and we chose our favorite since practically birth. Mine was Melchor. I always found him the coolest of the three, wearing his turkish heritage proudly with his giant turban and colorful cape.  Gaspar was too plain and Balthasar was too old and feeble to bring anything worth having.  I left those flojos to my sisters. Melchor had my back too : besides gramita for his camel I always left him some crackers and water to help him on his way.  And he thanked me by always delivering me the coolest, albeit tame, gifts on january 6th.  Santa Claus, since he had a ginormous sleigh, could carry heavy stuff like new bikes, tv's, game consoles and Barbie Dreamhouses.  Melchor had 1 camel and a small sack, so he had to bring smaller things like board games, books, gameboy games, and Barbie clothes.  None of which I objected to.  This was a different time, boys and girls, when kids still played with toys, board games and read books made of paper and spines.
Melchor, on the right, always had my back.
Which brings me to the title of this post. I got ALOT of paper dolls to play with when I was a kid on Three Kings' Day.  Large books, small books. I had fashion paper dolls, careers paper dolls, peter pan paper dolls, Barbie paper dolls, and even celebrity paper dolls (if you could call Princess Di and Shirley Temple celebrities). They were all stored inside a Maja soap box. I even used to make my own paper dolls by cutting up models from catalogs and Good Housekeeping (they had free Dolly Dingle dolls every month!) and pasting them on pink construction paper.  They were so much fun to play with.  I actually found some of the paper dolls I owned on the internet!

Espero todos disfruten el día de los Reyes. I will be leaving my own little box for myself and Pepe under the tree this year.
Love, Angela

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