She’s an American Girl

I wrote a little while ago about how losing my Barbie dolls was the end of my childhood.  Today, as Christmas approaches, I am thinking again of toys.  This time, it is a different sort of doll. 

Barbies of my day were fashion icons and pioneers of girl power, which was cool.  However, there was one doll that rose up above all the rest of those Barbies and baby dolls, one doll who stood up and eschewed fashion and make-up and didn’t need a bottle or a bath.  One doll to rule them all:  the American Girl Doll.

In 1986, the Pleasant Company released a line of dolls from historical eras, complete with a series of books and a wild array of accessories.  The first three released were Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly.

Now, I read all their books, (plus Addy’s, the first African-American doll they released in 1993.)  Loved them all.  But…I loved Samantha most.

I first learned the value of a dollar when I asked for her for Christmas.  She had a hefty 80$ price tag.  It was maybe 1991. I don’t think I would buy the girls an 80$ doll today, let alone back then.  My parents pretty much laughed at me.

So when Christmas Eve rolled around and I opened my big gift from my aunts and uncles, I was certainly not expecting to get both Samantha and her Christmas outfit.  There is a very pleased picture of me somewhere. (I found it!)

Anyway, Samantha’s time period was 1904, so I, as a budding bookworm, became fascinated with the turn of the century and consumed her books overnight.  For several years, I dressed her up in her Christmas outfit and brought her to the festivities at my Gram’s house, and I often got new trinkets for her from my aunts and uncles.  Then someone started buying me the other books.  I didn’t really want another doll, except maybe Molly (side note, my sister got her,) but I did discover an enjoyment of historical fiction and wanted to read all the books. 

Eventually, Samantha’s hair started falling out when I brushed it.  Then her arm fell off.  American Girl has a doll hospital, and I considered sending her there, but somehow she ended up in the basement, forgotten until the day we moved out of the house when I was in my early 20s.  She was a little moldy by then. The hospital couldn’t save her.

I’m still sad about it.

But, fast forward to now. 

American Girl has made many changes over the years, some I enjoyed-like dolls that look like you and differently-abled dolls.  Some decisions I didn’t like, such as the DISCONTINUATION OF SAMANTHA.

Now though, this year, they have released their newest and “youngest” doll-Courtney.  From 1986.

I want her.

No…I want her books.

I tell Sahar and she directed me to the AG website, where both doll and book are for sale.  I read the description…Courtney is a girl living in the 80s who really enjoys video games, but gets bullied for playing them because she’s a girl.  Um…yes, please.  It went on to say that the book includes a “historical ‘looking back” section.  …Excuse you. 

Anyway, Sahar then texts me and tells me the book will be at my house on Saturday and Merry Christmas.  So I won’t be getting this awesome 80s brand doll, but I will be reading her story, which has always been the best part of the American Girl experience for me.

Seriously though…someone tell me the moment they bring Sam back for a limited release.  Make it happen, American Girl.

Me with Sam. Plus my cousin Katie and my dad.

Into the Toybox

A question was posed on Twitter:  what item did you have as a child that you wish you still had? 

My instant answer was my Barbie dolls.

I played with Barbie long after I should have.  I remember having just turned 13.  I kept all my Barbie stuff in a big garbage bag in my closet, no longer displayed around my room, because word had gotten around to me that dolls were not cool for Junior High.  That didn’t mean I didn’t love them still, though.  One afternoon, none of my friends were around, and it was a nice day, so I pulled the bag out and took it to the yard and set up all my stuff.  I played in the sun for maybe an hour, until Christina called and asked if I wanted to go to her cottage for the weekend.  They were leaving right away, so I had to hurry.  I threw everything back into the bag and ran upstairs to grab my bathing suit and PJ’s, and then off I went to spend the night at the beach with my bestie.  What 13-year-old would be thinking of anything else?

Two days later I came home.  It was raining.  No one was around.  I went in my closet to get my dolls, but they weren’t there.  “Oh no!  I left them outside!  And it’s pouring!”  In a panic, I run down and out and find the yard empty-they aren’t there.  Relief floods me, as I go back in and ask my mother where she put them.

“I didn’t touch them.”

“They were in the yard, though.  In the black bag.”

Her face goes white.  She starts to cry, in the way my mother does when she knows someone else is about to cry, too.  “Yesterday was garbage day.  Dad took all the trash in the yard out.”

I dissolved into tears.  I wailed.  You might as well have told me my Grandma was dead all over again.

I went to my room and flung myself on my bed and sobbed.  It was over, you know.  My childhood.  Done.

My mind creeps further back, to the old wooden toy-box I once had that kept all my very important treasures.  I have very few toys left from my childhood: my teddy bear, of course, and a few stuffed friends that the girls held onto for me.  I do still have the little rocking chair I would sit in and watch TV, and I have my toy desk that is still as good as it was in 1987.  But I miss other things, like my Little People play-set, and my kitchen toys, and my pink radio.  And my Barbies. 

Oh god, I miss my Barbies.