Josée in Ottawa


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Living the American (Girl) Dream

For the past few months, B.G. has never wavered when asked what she wanted Santa to bring her for Christmas: “An American Girl® doll”, she answered every time. When we wrote our letter to Santa she dictated, “Dear Santa, I would like an American Girl® doll for Christmas. That’s all.” We explained to her that these dolls are very expensive and that if Santa did decide to bring her one, he probably wouldn’t be able to bring any other toys. She said that was fine.

Luckily Santa got the message loud and clear, and our typically reserved seven-year-old actually squealed with delight when she unwrapped her American Girl® doll.  She carried her around all morning and gazed adoringly into her eyes. I put what we call “twists” in her hair and did B.G.’s hair to match. The doll has pierced ears, just like B.G., and she changed her earrings to match the dolls’. Names were hotly debated and she finally settled on a variation of her own name, (B.G.-ia :)) since the doll “is supposed to be a mini me.” (It’s a fine line between creepy and adorable.) Hubby and I had discussed the pros and cons of paying so much for a doll when many other dolls were similar and might have brought B.G. just as much joy, but on Christmas morning I was very glad that Santa had gone for the real thing.

Just as we had predicted, Santa did not bring any accoutrements for the doll. She came only with a skirt, boots, underwear (!) and the shirt on her back. Oh, and I should mention that she came with a catalogue. After lunch B.G. decided to put the doll down for a nap, and I got the impression that she didn’t really know what to do with her. B.G. sat at the dining room table wistfully looking through the American Girl® catalogue. I started looking through the catalogue with her, and never has flirting with minimalism caused me so much internal strife.

On the one hand, the stuff that you can buy for these dolls is unbelievable – as are the prices. For $95 (US) you can buy a Dreamy Daybed for your American Girl®. Custom bedding will put you out another $34.  For $85 you can buy the Gymnastics Set which includes a practice bar (with grips to help her hold on), a floor beam covered in vinyl, a starry gym mat and a pink foam block. For $64 you can get the Purple Peacock PJ’s for Dolls & Girls so that your child and her doll can match at bedtime. To ensure that your child’s doll is never lonely when your  child isn’t around, you can purchase a pet for $22. For $100 you can buy the doll a Trail Bike; for another $48 you can also buy pet carrier that rides behind the Trail Bike. And for the bargain-basement price of $48 you can buy the doll her own horse.

I actually felt physically ill as I looked through the catalogue. For the past while I’ve been working so hard to get rid of clutter, to stop buying unnecessary things, and to really figure out what “stuff” will make me and the kids happy and what provides only a temporary high. B.G. loves dresses and I have had great luck buying fancy dresses for her at Value Village, for $5.99 each. We bought B.G.’s first real bike at The Bike Dump on Catherine and paid $5 for it. She rode that bike for three summers. Prices have gone up a bit but this summer we bought a bike for Bonhomme at the same place for $15. I’ve had moments of excess but overall our frivolous spending is way, way down and so is the amount of “stuff” in this house. Looking through that catalogue I started questioning my sanity in ever buying the doll in the first place.

On the other hand…B.G. is seven. She’s innocent and sweet and smart and funny and I want all her Christmases to be amazing. To be astounding. We are so lucky that we can give her that doll. I am so thankful that we were able to give her that doll. A part of me wants to buy her every damned thing in the catalogue and build a room to house it in too.

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