Mom hopes for lasting American Girl memories

My daughter loves dolls and stuffed animals like they are all real. I remember when she waking up from her afternoon naps holding her “entourage,” which consisted of about 20 of her favorite stuffed animals and friends.

The one thing she has been wanting most in this world is an American Girl Doll. It was on her Christmas list last year, her birthday list this past July and it is on her Christmas list again this year. I have held back on her for a few reasons: They are not cheap, her ability to care for a doll with that kind of a price tag, and the rite of passage.

We have had practice dolls for quite some time. For her second Christmas, she got a Snow White Baby. At her third, she got Snow White, her fourth Rapunzel (you see the pattern). But then on her sixth birthday, she got an imitation AG doll from Target that she treats like her American Girl doll. She dresses it, combs her hair, sleeps with it, changes her clothes and has even bathed her. What has caught me by surprise is her not being ashamed she has an imitation doll, but that she is proud.

At an American Girl birthday tea party this past fall, she brought her doll all dressed up. We bought a new outfit a German grandmother made and sold at a French Market in Indiana. That is how she chose to spend her birthday money this year. She was so proud to have a doll to bring with her newly knitted clothes that it did not bother her she was different.

In fact, we really focus on the importance of being different and embrace that it is OK to be just you. What impressed me the most at this tea party was her telling her friends, “Oh this is not an AG Doll, but it is my doll” with such pride. (Patting myself on my back.)

I have resisted getting her a real AG doll, but I have grown to like them and their stories. I like what they value and what they teach. When we read the stories together, we talk about what we just read. It helps to think about the story and the characters. It can also foster a love of reading.

She is at an age where it is appropriate to have an expensive doll. She understands that these dolls need extra care. This means she is ready for this rite of passage. At 6, learning responsibility is an important lesson.

My husband and I talked it through a few weeks ago. He said it was up to me. I told him about getting my Cabbage Patch doll on Christmas Day. It was such a fond memory because all I really wanted for Christmas was that doll. I recall shrieking with excitement when I opened my doll and as I look back, it puts a smile on my face. It is one of my favorite Christmas memories.

When she looks back on this Christmas, I want her to look back with the same giddy excitement she is going to feel when she opens up her Saige doll this week. My heart jumps thinking about my moment and what is about to be her moment. I don’t want to say I am getting caught up in commercialism, but creating memories is one of things Christmas is all about.

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