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Seasoned Greetings: Toys and dolls and bears can brighten a lonely senior citizen’s day.
christmasinNY1There are some indisputable truths about Christmas in New York. The first is, traffic multiplies in a way that would defy Stephen Hawking’s ability to calculate. The second is, tourists descend from all over the globe with digital cameras and Flip video recorders en masse, and I am always the “kind stranger” selected to shoot the group for posterity. And third, my friend Cam is bound to telephone and ask me to accompany him to some “new and magical” wonderland.

Cam loves Christmas. I know everyone loves Christmas, but Cam loves it more than most. Being rather portly, he has played the part of Santa at various youth groups and at hospitals around the country. Cam is a gypsy at heart and has moved a bit in his life, and he has a checkered career path. Like he always says, his résumé should be printed on plaid paper—there is just so much to check off and check up on!

This year, right after Thanksgiving, Cam phoned and told me that we were about to embark on the greatest venture of all. I’ve been togagachristmas1 holiday drag shows with him—“Times Square Angel,” starring the magnificent Charles Bush was the best; I’ve accompanied him to the interactive “It’s a Wonderful Life,” where the audience acts out all the legendary parts; and we’ve even participated in both the “Messiah” sing-along and its more edgy, urban rap-along. I couldn’t imagine what was at the top of his list this year.

As my wheels were turning—spinning double time—it occurred to me, “Am I going to be gaga over it?” (Lady Gaga—one of Cam’s most favorite entertainers—has opened up a Santa’s Workshop, of sorts, at Barney’s department store in NYC. I knew this was where we would be dashing through the nonexistent snow! Manhattan has been uncharacteristically warm this year.)

However, he surprised me by saying, “No, that’s the second greatest place this year. I promised you the greatest.”

And then he told me where. And I must say . . . he was right.

Being a highly verbal, highly social guy, Cam has an enormous coterie of friends. Over the past year, he has befriended a gentleman who is in very frail health. Being elderly and alone, Cam’s new friend recently gave up his apartment and has moved into a nursing home. Cam has been visiting him and has been raising the spirits of all the other residents at the facility. (“I am channeling my inner Gaga,” he admits.)

One of the things he discovered is that many of the women patients and female residents at the home are upset over having to downsize to live in shared, smaller living spaces. They miss many of the items they have had to give away, sell, or simply discard. A lot of the missed belongings are collectibles, and that is where Cam and I come in.

“You know ‘Toys for Tots’? This is ‘Stuff for Seniors’!”

And, indeed, it was. Cam requested that I bring a good-condition doll or bear or snow globe (one of the many things that I collect) to gift to a senior citizen this year. Cam knows a lot of people, and these people own a lot of things.

Whereas we all fret and fuss about having too much, and not enough space to showcase everything, in our heart of hearts, most of us are glad that we have our collectibles near at hand.

wendyandpaddington1How sad if a person is forced to leave a home, where their memories and mementoes—their moments of happiness and sorrow, joys and challenges—all occurred to move into a dormitory-style complex and to begin to make new friends. Most heartbreakingly, this transition into a new living environment occurs while their family members—and other “loved ones”—often leave them alone and unvisited.

“Don’t bring anything too enormous,” Cam warned. “There’s not space for it, but there is room in a dresser drawer on top of a bureau for an Alexander ‘Wendy’ or a Mattel Kelly or a Mini Cali baby doll. There’s always room for those.”

And Cam was so correct. Going through my home that is filled with dolls that oncemisfit-toys1 held an allure for me, but have since faded, it brightened my spirit to think that these dolls could find a second life and a second chance. And since they are coming from the home of a collector, these dolls are pristine: in perfect, hermetically sealed, mint-in-box condition. In many cases, they have never been held.

“Keep in mind, we don’t want any Island of Misfit toy rejects. Oh, well, maybe just the cute dolly and the polka-dotted elephant,” Cam laughed. “It is the season for being forgiving.”

Dolls and bears and all other holiday stocking stuffers are celebrated as the trappings of an ideal childhood Christmas. However, for many people who are of a “certain age,” the appeal and the hug-ability of a stuffed toy or doll is still just as strong as it is for their younger counterparts.

lotsofsantas1For a lot of these elderly people, Christmas is a date on a calendar where the hallways are extra quiet and the paper decorations are frayed and forlorn.

If there are any senior centers in your neighborhood, consider finding out if any of the residents are former collectors and if they would like a little Christmas pick-me-up.

The chance to have your doll or bear being an ambassador of goodwill is so gratifying. And at a time where goodwill is sung about and written about, how sweet it is to actually experience it.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And in the tri-state area this year, his name is Cam.

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Our doll club, MidTn Doll Club, in Murfreesboro TN visits area nursing homes and distributes stuffed animals and dolls. The residents love it.
Susan Harris , December 22, 2011
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So touching and so true. My grandmother is in a nursing home and I am always struck by how quiet it is. We have ended up visiting other residents there too because they are forgotten by their families. Thank you for reminding everyone of the seniors in our world. Christmas is for everyone.
Miranda , December 16, 2011
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What a heartwarming and inspiring blog post - thankyou smilies/smiley.gif
Holly , December 12, 2011 | url

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Latest Articles from News & Notes

2015 DOLLS Awards Industry's Choice winners announced

The 2015 DOLLS Awards of Excellence Industry’s Choice winners (DAEs, also called the Diamond Awards) were announced at the International Doll & Teddy Bear Show in Asheville, N.C., June 6. The Industry's Choice winners will go on to become the nominee's in the Public's Choice voting, set to begin in late June.

Without further ado, here are the winners of this year's Industry's Choice Diamond Awards!

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Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

The Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon one recipient per year. This award was created in 2002 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the teddy bear, with the first recipient being Steiff, a German-based plush toy company known for its high quality and prices.

The Lifetime Achievement recipient must be or have been involved in some aspect of the doll and/or teddy bear field for a minimum of 25 years. The recipient may be an individual, partnership, corporation, company, author, artist, marketer, historian or any other industry professional. Lifetime Achievement Award nominations may be made by previous recipients or members of the LAA committee.

To qualify as a nominee, entrants must meet the following criteria:

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2010 Helen Kish
2012 Maggie Iacono
2013 Heidi Plusczok
2014 Jack Johnston
2015 Kaye Wiggs

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BLACKALL ASSOCIATES INC. 
ANNOUNCING Winner of the Summer Heat Photo Contest

August 8, 2014 - Blackall Associates Inc. is proud to announce the winner of its Summer Heat Photo Contest. The contest drew entries from around the world. Masterpiece Doll collectors sent in a special photo showing how their Masterpiece Dolls were enjoying the summer heat. 

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i have very old magazines need to sell them before something happens to them
margie , December 20, 2014
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i really like all the barbie balack dress, can i ask question can i buy this, because its all out in the market now here in the philippines, can you help me please im a big fan of thiss dolls
mark christian paul l. carigma , December 16, 2014 | url

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The Chicago Toy Show

You haven’t seen a toy show until you’ve seen this one. Six buildings! Over six hundred exhibitors! Exclusively toys and dolls and children’s playthings on display everywhere! This is the show everyone always says they intend to visit, and now is the time to do just that. Collectors say the Chicago Toy Show really is the largest in the entire world. They are correct. Collectors say they find toys at this show that are never seen anywhere else. Correct again.

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Konnichiwa and Grüezi - 150 years of Japan and Switzerland

19 April 2014 – 5 October 2014

A special exhibition will take place at the Toy Worlds Museum Basle to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Japanese-Swiss diplomacy and friendship.

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