I think I was 5, maybe 6 when I came down Christmas morning to find a house. A giant, white doll-house with more floors, rooms and furniture then the real house I lived in. This house was for play; the dream house where every young girl, who believed she was a secret princess waiting to be found, wished she lived. It had double French doors leading to a balcony, a claw-foot bathtub, a canopy bed and fireplace. There was a formal dining room and I think I remember a grandfather clock. I don’t remember the kitchen, even at 6 I had no interest in cooking, but I remember the little roll-top desk with drawers that worked.
There are many details about that house still in my memory, but the one detail that made this ultimate toy better than any other was the pink trim around the windows.
I new that specific shade of pink and I recognized each mini piece of wood perfectly glued to the exterior. The memory of recognizing that pink is strong because I had helped paint it. One random day, I came in from playing and found my Dad sitting at our kitchen table painting little pieces of wood pink. He had an extra brush and I joined him at his task. Out of context the pink pieces, even this moment with Dad meant nothing to me. In context, that Christmas morning, I instantly new my Dad had made the house. In my euphoria of presents I doubt I verbalized that I had made the connection, but in that mila second of recognition I created a memory strain still cherished as my private family heirloom.
I played with the house; it was not created to sit on a shelf for people to appreciate the craftsmanship. I know I broke it, colored the base green (it needed landscaping) and had many a prince dive off the balcony (or did my dolls push them?). I have no idea what happened to it; but I never cared. The best gift that I ever received was not the house; it was the knowledge that my Dad made something for me - he loved me that much.