Forty-four years later, that new rubber smell still reminds me of Judy. And the long wait.

But it was all about waiting back then.

The shininess and sparkles of December helped take the edge off the slowest possible passage of time. For one month, miniature elves glided up and down the drapes—by magic!—on the dining room window. Red felt and cotton stuffing transformed old Folgers cans into Santa’s boots to hold caramel corn. Mom threaded our mittens, one on each end of a long string, through our coat sleeves. Red hots and those little silver balls, now deemed inedible by the FDA, speckled the green cornflake wreath cookies. When I was school age, chocolate milk replaced the usual cartons of 2% that last day before Christmas break. The cafeteria morphed into a theater, the movie projector spitting out flicks like The African Queen or Wait Until Dark.

At home, the Scotch pine in the living room squatted over mounds of paper-covered packages for a little too long; the anticipation was as agonizing as a stomach filled with too many Spritz cookies.

I was three years old in 1973, and the wait for Christmas was grueling. Finally, it was time. I shredded the wrapping paper on a box that cradled the best doll in the whole wide world. I named her Judy. Like a real mom, I sniffed her head. That new rubber smell! I bathed and dressed her. I kissed her face. And for a week, I forgot all about David Joy, my up-until-then favorite doll.

I think of another wait—humanity’s grueling wait—spanning thousands of years, with no commercial shininess or sparkles to distract it. Finally, it was time. And the angels shredded the sky with the best news of all. A baby! But it was no ordinary baby, this one. This one wore both divinity and flesh and smelled like a better way—and the cure.

Take heart this Christmas: The wait was worth it then. And it’s worth it now.

*Miss an installment of the blog? Or want to catch the story from the beginning? Visit http://www.tamarajorell.com/blog-entries-by-date

*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.