Another Scalzi Christmas Rerun: Jackie Jones & Melrose Mandy

After posting “Sarah’s Sister” yesterday, I got a few e-mails from people wondering what the third holiday-related piece I wrote for my 2003 RIF fundraiser was, and if I would share it. The answer was, it was a poem meant for the kiddies, and sure, here it is, behind the cut. It’s about a kid perhaps overly invested in one particular toy. I’m sure none of you were ever that way EVER. Anyway, once again I’ll note this poem is probably slightly less snarky than my usual tone, but as I was aiming it to be read aloud to the ten and under set, I’m not going to feel to guilty about that. Enjoy.

Jackie Jones and Melrose Mandy

By John Scalzi

Jackie Jones loved Christmas. She loved it a lot.
For the love and the sharing? As if! (or, perhaps, Not!).
Jackie loved Christmas more than most girls and boys
For one simple reason: Because of the toys!
Yes! Toys! By the bundle! By the truck! By the ton!
A big pile of toys is what made Christmas fun.

Was Jackie Jones spoiled? Well, maybe so;
She rarely said “please,” and got angry at “no.”
But was it her fault that she got what she wanted?
Was it her problem that she rarely was haunted
By the idea there just might be something more
Than mountains of presents laid out on the floor?

Whatever the cause for her toy-fueled obsession
This particular year Jackie had a confession:
The toy that she wanted very mostest of all
Was the Melrose Mandy high fashion doll.
It’s not that she didn’t want other toys — far from it!
But on her Christmas list, Mandy was high on the summit.

“But why?” Jackie Jones was asked one winter day
By a classmate of hers named Sophie McCray.
“You have dozens and dozens and dozens of dollies
“From Miami Marta to Hollywood Holly
“With their cars and their clothes! And so I ask you
“What more with Mandy would you possibly do?”

What would Jackie do? What wouldn’t she do!
Jackie might not know much, but this much she knew
From the moment she saw Mandy on her TV screen
She knew that the doll was the key to her dreams.
With all the accessories and add-ons unfurled
With her doll Mandy, she could take on the world!

Jackie Jones could just see it now:
All the things she would do with her posable pal.
They would cruise Highway One, with the top down
In Mandy’s convertible (in surf blue or sand brown)
Then get in Mandy’s plane — the one with the pool
Not the one with the sauna (the sauna’s not cool).

Mandy and she would fly all over the globe
Spreading joy and love through Mandy’s hip line of clothes
And when the world’s people had been accessorized
Jackie and Mandy would win the Peace Prize
And in matching peach shoes would cause a sensation
When they came to address the United Nations.

But how to explain this to Sophie McCray?
Sophie was poor and she lived far away
On the outskirts of town in a small little room
With just barely enough space for a doll or two.
Sophie was her friend, but she had to admit it
There was just no way Sophie would ever quite get it.

But now Christmas was coming, there was no time to lose!
Jackie let mom and dad know which gift to choose
She begged, she pleaded, she dropped a few hints
And then just to be sure, she threw a few fits.
Jackie made clear — so there was no doubt
Without her dear Mandy she’d do nothing but pout.

And then Christmas came! Jackie ran down the stairs
And begun tearing open the presents down there.
There were dozens of presents marked with her name
And Jackie dove into them all with no shame.
She attacked them with ferocity, ardor and glee
And came very close to toppling the tree.

And boy, what a haul: You could hardly conceive
Of the sheer loads of stuff hidden under that tree.
There was a bike and bird and some blocks and a box
That held a whole outfit that matched with her socks.
There were sparkly hair spangles, a karaoke machine
And a talking mechanical cat named Maureen.

There was a stuffed unicorn and video games
And a soft teddy bear that could remember your name.
There were card games, board games and puzzles and balls
And six gift certificates to six different malls.
We could go on, but it’s obvious to all
That Jackie Jones had herself quite a haul.

But no Melrose Mandy! Mandy couldn’t be found!
And you can be sure Jackie Jones looked around.
And when Jackie was certain the doll was unseen,
She drew in her breath for a lung-busting scream.
But that scream never happened; at the last second
Jackie’s mom had a gift — and to her daughter she beckoned.

And then there she was in all of her glory!
Melrose Mandy and her whole inventory
Of accessories and costumes, of clothes and of shoes
More things that come separately than one girl could use.
Jackie let out a squeal, and grabbed Mandy tight
And said “I’m going to play with her all day and all night!”

And she did! Well, she tried. But sometime ’round noon
Jackie’s obsession with Mandy just faltered and swooned.
It’s not that Jackie didn’t have fun — not at all.
But it turns out that Mandy was just another doll.
Like Miami Marta or Hollywood Holly,
Or any old Cindy, Mindy, Stacy or Molly.

Jackie went to her closet and turned on the light
And saw dozens of dolls there — it was quite a sight.
Dolls stretched back for yards, to the very first one
A cuddly plush doll named Bitsy Bygumm
A doll which Jackie — she did suddenly remember
Had promised her mom she would play with forever.

And suddenly Jackie had an interesting thought
About all the dolls she demanded be bought.
Each time, with each one, Jackie was sure
That this doll would be the one that would cure
All the things in her life with which she was bored
But it didn’t — it couldn’t — and Jackie wanted one more.

The dolls always changed, but I stayed the same
Jackie thought, and just then a light went on in her brain
No matter how many toys or dolls that she had
They themselves couldn’t make her happy or sad.
What mattered was her — what mattered was whether
She chained all her happiness to toys like a tether.

And then Jackie thought of Sophie McCray
Sharing Christmas with family in her house far away.
She thought of her friend and remembered anew
“What more with Mandy would you possibly do?”
Then Jackie went down to talk to her mother
And made a request quite unlike any other.

Years later, Sophie would remember quite clearly
She almost missed that box! It was quite nearly
Covered in snow — it must have been out all night
But on the day after Christmas it was a delight
To open the box and see that inside
Was a gift that a stranger saw fit to provide.

And as for Jackie, well, she still liked her toys.
And still loved Christmas, like most girls and boys.
But toys she now knew were only for fun
And not things upon which one’s dreams should be spun.
She loved Christmas now, because she’d come to believe
That it truly was better to give than receive.

What Jackie Jones knows, you can know too
Look in your soul and you’ll see that it’s true.
And come Christmas day, hug those you love dear
And remember today, and each year after year,
That getting is nice, but giving is better
Toys come and go, but love lasts forever.

11 Comments on “Another Scalzi Christmas Rerun: Jackie Jones & Melrose Mandy”

  1. Nicely done! And this rerun didn’t make me tear up, which I admit the “Sarah” one did. This actually reminds me of one of my favorite books for kids: Lucy More Needs Less (which is self-published – I’m not the author, so I didn’t add it to the recommendation thread, but it’s well done, and has a great moral). There are probably lots of good stories and poems for kids to gently push back against mindless consumerism – particularly at this time of year, it’s a good moral for moms and dads too, come to think of it…

  2. Quietly, happily, weeping. Right to the heart, John, although you didn’t mean it. My life has several long stories not worth sharing here; I was someone’s Melrose Mandy and she gave me away. For which I’m very grateful for so very many reasons, and I love her even more for having done so, now that I understand. Thank you.

  3. The arc is Shel Silverstein, yet less subversive. A tightrope I did not know needed walking, but there it was. Lovely.

    (The big toy for me was Big Trak — it was not be had anywhere at Christmas 1979(?) — I wanted it to the exclusion of all else, but it was available nowhere. Mom was pretty good about settling my expectations downward, but then she managed to conjure it up on one last pass at Toys R Us on 12/23. Thanks Mom!)

  4. So . . . when might we expect you to team up with a children’s illustrator and publish this as your premier entry into the very young reader market?

    As a test run I read this to my 4 year old. Not certain he understood some of it, and perhaps it was my oh-so-hypnotic reading voice, but he loved it!

  5. Quite nice.

    NetDef: Perhaps he could convince Samuel L. Jackson to read the audiobook version.

  6. It sounds more Theo Geisel than Shel Silverstein, but perhaps that’s just the meter talking to me.

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