Over the years that I’ve participated in the Virtual Advent, I’ve talked about lots of things: books, the tree, music… but never toys. I’m changing that this year.
When I was younger, my mother gave to me a couple porcelain dolls that she’d had when she was a child. I loved those dolls, played with them, and cherished them. (Granted, this is all in retrospect; maybe I didn’t.) They, somehow, managed to survive me as a child, and I saved them to pass down to my daughter.
And then I had four girls.
There was no way I could pass down two dolls to four girls (well, there was only three at the time I made the initial decision), and I wanted them to have the same sort of experience with dolls that I had as a child. The Christmas M was in second grade, we were searching for gift ideas for her, and I hit upon the perfect solution: American Girl Dolls.
I feel a need to justify this a bit: they are expensive, somewhat extravagant, and definitely over-commercialized. There is a part of me that dreads getting the catalog whenever it shows up, because there’s always more in there that the girls want then we can get.
The dolls are well-made, the clothes are well-made, they’re not Barbies (a big plus in my book!), and they are made to be played with and yet will last to be handed down. And there’s enough stuff to last through birthdays and Christmas presents for a few years.
Additionally, the historical ones — which are the ones that I require they choose from — are fascinating in their detail (which is hopefully accurate), and they make history accessible and fun to the girls. But best of all, they come with books. Possibly not the best-written books, but ones that a second-grader can read on her own, ones that help make the doll that much more interesting.
Thankfully, M (who picked the now-retired Samantha) and C (who picked Kit), and now A (who has picked Molly) were able to find dolls that fit their personality, whose stories they were interested in, and ones they loved to pieces. M no longer plays with her doll, having put it in storage for the time when she (hopefully) has a daughter she can pass the doll and books down to. C still keeps hers around, playing with her on occasion, but mostly keeping her because she likes to have her things around her. A is over the moon with anticipation of getting her doll this Christmas. And K has already spent hours with the catalog, looking at the dolls, trying to decide which one she will like in a couple of years.
It may be extravagant, but it’s a tradition I’m glad to have started with the girls.
I’m not the only one posting today. Check out these other posts: