The Fault of the Cabbage Patch

Second grade was the year of the Cabbage Patch Doll.

The year that moms waited in line outside stores before they opened on days that a new shipment of Cabbage Patch Dolls was rumored to arrive. The doors would open and they’d rush to the toy department and fight over the dolls.

Each doll had a unique look and name- and while it would be nice to have the luxury to examine each doll and choose the one you’d think your little girl would like the best, if you wanted to leave the store with a doll, you had to grab whatever you could.

I wanted a Cabbage Patch Doll so badly, but after listening to my mother and her friends talk about the hunt for the dolls and occasional mentions that not even Santa and his elves can keep up with the demand for a doll, I started to think that maybe I wouldn’t get one this year.

But, in my mother’s closet sat two Cabbage Patch Dolls. My mom told me that they were for our neighbors- being hidden where those girls would never find them. I fell in love with one of them- a pigtailed blonde with big blue eyes named Tansy Nola.

As often as I could, I would sneak looks at the doll, imagining that just maybe, Santa would bring me one like that.

On Christmas Eve, my father took me with him to do his Christmas shopping. While we were out, we found a Koosa Kid- the bizarre-looking Cabbage Kid Pets. My father explained that he didn’t think Santa was going to be able to get a Cabbage Patch Doll for every girl who asked for one, so maybe I’d like one of these until I could get a doll later. I agreed but felt let down- thinking that he must know Santa isn’t bringing me a doll like Tansy.

But on Christmas morning, as I tore into my presents, I opened not just a Cabbage Patch doll, but Tansy. And, as every girl worth her cabbage knows, no two Cabbage Patch dolls were exactly alike. This wasn’t just a doll like the one in my mom’s closet, this was the doll from my mom’s closet.

Yet, the tag read “From Santa.”

And that is how I found out the truth about Santa Claus.

How did you find out about Santa? Did you ever have a present you wanted as badly as I wanted that Cabbage Patch Doll?




  1. says

    Oh my goodness!!  That’s how you found out??  Poor thing.

    I never fessed up that I didn’t believe in Santa, so when I was probably 11 or so, my mom finally said to me, “You don’t still believe in Santa, do you?”  I still smile when I think about that conversation.  😉
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    • Shell says

      I wish I had the pics from that Christmas morning here- you can read it right on my face as I’m holding up the Cabbage Patch- like “the jig is up.” 

  2. says

    I found out about santa when I had to go to the bathroom one night during one Christmas and I saw my parents putting the presents out and the next day I realized that the writing was my Dads.  But it was all good!
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  3. says

    Oh how sad!!  I think I was around 2nd grade (maybe a bit older) when i found out.  My parents asked me how I felt about Santa or something of that nature and we talked about it – I was on to them as I’d seen the Easter Bunny’s half-eaten (cut) carrot tops in the trash that year and, having rabbits, I knew that wasn’t how a rabbit ate carrots AND that they’d never throw one away…LOL!

    It wasn’t too much of a surprise and I don’t remember being traumatized by it, and it was fun to help the magic live on for my brother and sister – I felt like I was in on a great, fun secret.  Which i guess I was.

    Also, I got a Cabbage Patch Kid in second grade, too – her name was Abby Dulcy.  
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    • Shell says

      Nope- a bunny would just eat it! 

      Funny how so many of us remember our Cabbage Patch dolls’ names! 

  4. says

    I LOVED Cabbage Patch Dolls.  The year no one in the US could find them, no one in Canada wanted them.  My parents drove our conversion van to Winnipeg, loaded that sucker with about 100 cabbage patch dolls, and brought them back to WY to sell.  My sister and I each got one boy, one girl, and a striped pet.  It was the best!

    I found out about Santa from school and I was so mad at everyone for lying to me.  I was ashamed I had been such a fool.  It was actually very traumatic for me–which I know is not the norm–but it was like that for me.  I’m still pretty sensitive to deception (even the fun kind).

    • Shell says

      Oh, that was smart! My mom ended up getting a bunch of them as well and selling them- but she would just go to stores early and race to the toy departments. LOL

      I think my oldest is going to be like that- he doesn’t like being fooled. 

  5. says

    I found out about Santa in 6th grade when I found toys in my mom’s closet. The funny thing about reading this story is that I was in 7th grade when the CPK craze happened. My mom stood in line to get my three little sisters one. She showed me and though I was in junior high, I fell in love with the bald one whose name was Kevin that smelled so good. I would sneak into my mom’s room to hold him and play with him and then put him back. I think my mom knew because on Christmas morning, Kevin was mine. Sad that these days I don’t know any 7th graders that still play with dolls. They are too busy taking pictures of themselves in bikinis and posting them on FB. :(
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    • says

      I had a newborn baby when I was 10 ish … I too loved the way it smelled. Then it got stolen. By my brother! It was the only thing that would get him to fall asleep at naptime. Maybe he needed a baby doll because my sister and I had one. I don’t think I even asked my parents to replace “Jason” after my brother stole him. Funny thing is that when he was 3 he lost Jason in an airport and when we got home from vacation we had to take my then 3 year old brother to the toy store and buy him a new one. He got a toddler doll, since he grew up, Jason did too.
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  6. says

    I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade. I probably was teased in school for believing in Santa and asked my dad about it. He explained to me that Santa isn’t a single person, but a spirit and we can all be Santa when we give to other people. And that’s why I still believe in Santa :) [this was the very best thing I think my dad ever tol me]
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  7. says

    Awww what a terrible way to find out. I had a cabbage patch doll that was made by an African lady. They didn’t sell/make black cabbage patch dolls. I tell you that thing was UGLY. I was never in love with it but I sure begged for it. Years later I appreciate what it meant to my mom to be able to find one that was “just for me”.

    • Shell says

      I think they were just hard to find. My cousin got a black Cabbage Patch doll this same year- and I remember how badly she wanted mine- b/c it looked just like her. But I didn’t want to trade my doll to anyone- not even to my best friend who had one that did look like me. We thought about it for a little while, though. 😉 

  8. says

    I don’t remember the story behind my cabbage patch kid, but I do remember that I got 1 during the craze. Mindy Ruth is still very much loved in our house. She now belongs to my almost 3 year old (along with the David – the boy doll I got later and 2 of the 5 or 6 my sister had).

    I do remember how I found out. It was horrible. We lived in the apartment above my mom’s parents. My aunt and my cousin lived with my grandparents downstairs. My cousin was 9, she found out … she was devastated and angry. I was down there for some reason, probably playing with Grandpa. She screams in my face …. SANTA’S NOT REAL! I was very, very upset and my grandma helped me get upstairs to my mom. Crying I say to my mom, “Mommy, Jenny said Santa’s not real. Is she right?” My mom looks at her heart broken 5 year old and says, “Do you want to believe in Santa?” I remember nodding then my mom said the best thing in the world. “Only those who believe in Santa get presents from Santa. So, you will get presents from Santa and that mean ol’ Jenny won’t.” Until we moved out out of the house we got presents from Santa. I am not sure they ever actually told us the truth.
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    • Shell says

      Oh, what an awful thing to have happen! I do worry about my oldest when he learns- if he will ruin it for his brothers like that. 

  9. says

    I don’t remember how old I was during the cabbage patch kid craze, but my cousins worked at Toys R Us at the time and was able to get me one. I loved how they all came with their own name and birth certificate such a fun toy.
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  10. says

    I love that every girl who got a Cabbage Patch doll remembers their name umpteen years later (30 for me). I, of course, picked one on one of the highest shelves and had the entertainment of watching my mom monkey up them to grab Sharona Carol, the ginger with the pigtails 😉 I don’t remember ever believing in Santa Claus, apparently because my grandma outed him to me when I was around 3, which didn’t go over very well with my mom. But I didn’t do the Santa thing with my son, I just never ‘felt it’, really.

    • Shell says

      I know! I’m laughing at all the names everyone is bringing up! 

      I’d be upset if my mom outed Santa to my kids- but not surprised. LOL

  11. says

    For me it was the wrapping paper.  I was probably about the same age- maybe third grade, can’t remember for sure; but the Santa paper was the same as the paper for our other presents.  Needless to say I buy a special hidden roll that is just for Santa :)

    Though my Alex keeps saying- I don’t know if Santa is real.  Luckily her big brother jumps in and says he still believes (as he does)- want a few more years of the magic. 
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    • Shell says

      We’ve always done all the presents from Santa, which I don’t really like at this point, though it’s just the way we had it growing up and didn’t think to do anything different. 

      My oldest noticed some wrapping paper in my closet that Santa used two Christmases ago- I said something about having to wrap a present here and leaving the paper behind by accident. 

  12. says

    I don’t remember how I found out about Santa..I really don’t..but I will tell you that I still believe. To this day, there is always something that comes to me (from a person other than Santa of course) that they never even knew I really wanted and it thrills me beyond myself. I am a believer. FOR SURE.

    Now I just keep telling the boys that Santa is as real as they believe he doesn’t hurt that their mom is a bona fide nut case when it comes to Christmas. And just as an aside…my mom kept our cabbage patch dolls…and the boys play with them every single time they go to her house. They are still so ugly to me, but they still bring kiddos so much JOY. :)
    great post my friend.
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    • Shell says

      I love those gifts- the types that seem to find their way to the exact right person at the exact right time- there is an element of magic in it, for sure. 

  13. says

    Awwww, that’s sad! Also, I never realized that the shopping madness existed back then, too. I guess it just never occurred to me. I have my old Cabbage Patch still and I remember how much I loved him. And he had the writing on his tush so I knew he was legit (isn’t that where the marking was??)

    Thanks for bringing back such wonderful memories! 
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    • Shell says

      I think it was even worse b/c there was no online shopping. 😉 

      yes- writing on the tush- Xavier Roberts! 

  14. says

    Aw, love this… even though… every time a child finds out the truth about Santa, it’s a little sad, you know? Also: I loved Cabbage Patch Kids SO BADLY! I loved my doll.
    I don’t even know if I truly believed in Santa, ever… because in the house I grew up in, we didn’t have a fire place…
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  15. says

    I was just old enough to miss that craze, but I still remember my mom wanting so badly to get me one (even though I didn’t want one). I think her desire had more to do with me outgrowing dolls than it had to do with getting me that “special” gift.

    I don’t remember when I stopped believing. I just kind of grew out of it and started helping my mom with my brother’s gifts. I moved from one kind of magic to another.
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    • Shell says

      There is a magic in being on the other side. I’m trying to remember that as my oldest gets to the age where he might be over Santa soon.

  16. says

    That must have been one of the most exciting and depressing moments of your childhood! I believed in Santa until I was 9 and my parents finally felt I was too old to believe any more. I am gullible like that.

    • Shell says

      You can see it perfectly on my face in the pic where I’m opening up my doll, too. It’s so funny.

  17. says

    I found out when I heard my dad swearing at the Barbie Dream House he was putting together late Christmas Eve. I went downstairs expecting it to be from my parents but it had “From Santa” on it. I questioned them and my dad said that Santa had come and dropped it off but that he wanted it to be put together for me to play with right away. It was a nice try but my dad is not good at lying and it was written all over his face…no matter how badly I wanted to believe him. 
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    • Shell says

      If I remember right, I think I was beginning to doubt anyway and that was just the final piece. 

  18. says

    I remember the Cabbage Patch dolls well! I found out about Santa the year my dad dressed up as Santa on Christmas Eve and tried to pull off that he was the real deal, Italian accent and all! And yes, one of my must have gifts was a Barbie Make-Up Head – I had to have one and was pleased come Christmas (how my parents toy shopped without Amazon, I’ll never understand!). Great post!
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  19. says

    Your story is very similar to how I found out there was “no santa claus.” I found the Nintendo Game System in my father’s closet, and on that Christmas morning, as we opened our presents, that was the gift from “Santa.” I was devastated. I never let my dad know that I found out the truth, and held it in. 😉
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  20. Kim says

    I received my first Cabbage Patch doll 2 months before the Christmas craze for my birthday. Her name is Joanne.

    I never told anyone in my family I didn’t believe in Santa. I wrote a letter every year and went with my Grandma every year to have my picture taken with Santa. When I was 20, my Grandma and I were on the bus for our annual lunch and visit with Santa. She looked at me very seriously and told me she was Santa. I told her I had known that since I was about 9 and I didn’t tell her because I didn’t want our fun to end. We continued our tradition. My last picture with Santa for her was when I was pregnant, morning sickness and all. It was also my last Christmas with my Grandma. I still laugh when I think about how concerned she was about me being 20 and still believing.

  21. says

    I never got the Cabbage Patch Dolls, but I always wanted one. I think I was in 2nd grade and it was just one of my cousins who told me. Sad and heartbreaking. I still believe in Santa when I see my son’s eyes light up whenever he sees him. I”m hoping to hang on to that for a few more years.

  22. says

    Oh that’s so sad… my friend told me and I asked my mom… I was about the same age.

    The year of the Cabbage Patch Dolls… that year, Santa left us a note in the tree that said that he couldn’t keep up and he knew we would understand because we had lots of family who would love us and give us other presents, so he was giving the dolls to children who needed them more. He left us money to get one when they were more readily available… we thought we were all that because Santa like us so much he DIDN’T give us what we asked for!
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  23. says

    Oh I remember the Cabbage Patch craziness. I wanted one so bad, but never got one :(
    I can’t remember how I found out about Santa, I think after a while I just sort of knew. Or maybe someone told me and it started me thinking. 
    At what age do you think you’ll tell your boys?
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    • Shell says

      I’m not really sure. I want them to stay innocent and believe in things like this, but at a certain point, other kids in school get mean about it and mock kids who still believe. I don’t want it to get that far. 

  24. says

    I always wanted a Barbie doll when I was little. Growing up in East Germany we didn’t have such luxuries before the Wall fell. I still remember the first Christmas I got one. It was amazing. . . Never had a Gabbage Patch doll. I didn’t know about them until I moved here.
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  25. says

    In my day I wanted a THUMBELINA doll. A vintage 1960’s one today costs around $300.00 but that is what I wanted… My girls wanted and still have their cabbage patch dolls. I was told there was no Santa by a neighbor girl. I didn’t believe her and I still don’t…. I must admit it was upsetting… :( 
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  26. says

    I remember wanting a Cabbage Patch doll so badly too. My parents just took me to the store and bought it right in front of me. I never grew up believing in Santa Claus. But your story reminds me to be careful around my own kids and try and keep the magic alive a little longer.
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  27. says

    Hmmm, for me, as I’m a little younger (sheesh, after reading all the comments I feel like a baby lol) But I wanted an American Girl doll sooo bad, finally one year I did get a really nice doll with long hair and I was happy. :)
    Santa? Nah, my folks never lied to us about that, I do remember liking the guy at the mall a lot though because he gave us candy! lolz
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  28. says

    Oh no! That’s how you found out?  That is not where I thought this story was going. :) But I enjoyed reading it. I was in 5th grade during the craze. My first was Sabina Gabriella. I ultimately had 4 (long story but I eventually got a 2nd, then later asked for a preemie, and then when I was a little older and they were no big deal anymore someone gave me this weird circus Cabbage Patch Kid.) So my mom has certainly kept them all. Earlier this year she gave them all to me and I decided to pass them down – 1 for each of my 4 daughters as a keepsake of their mother’s. They don’t play with them much but they are there, clothes and all. Then my mom handed me a box and it had birthday certificates, birthday cards from “the patch” and an adoption certificate for….a Koosa! I had forgotten all about that and had no idea what ever happened to it but I had one too – named Wicket. So it was fun for me to read your post! Still sorry about the bittersweet ending. My mom NEVER admitted to there not being a Santa Claus. I plan on following suit. Though I am wondering when my 8yr olds are going to realize that Elfy is just a doll. Even my mom said she can’t believe they think he is real. LOL!
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  29. says

    SO MANY memories associated with this doll. I don’t remember how I found out about Santa. But I kind of feel like this is the last year for my daughter.

    Okay back to dolls, my Dad worked as a District Manager for Kmart and that’s how we were able to get them that year. That’ was nuts. I remember the frenzy related to the dolls, too.

    And the hope and wonder of getting one Christmas morning. I made it legwarmers…
    Hope you guys are doing great.