Years ago I bought my granddaughter an “American Girl” doll. Since that day- like all great retailers- they have sent catalogs to me at least twice a year. I usually toss them on my desk and take them to school to let my students drool over them. Yesterday, just by chance, I flipped through a few pages of the Christmas catalog. OH MY!
When the book opened to page 36 I gasped! One of the accessories available for Molly McIntire, the 1944 doll, is a Formica and chrome table just like the one we had when I was a child. And the price tag- $85- is more than my folks probably paid for the real thing! When Gary and I first married we had one that I bought for $25 at a yard sale. And it had four chairs. The doll’s only has two. lol
In case you are unfamiliar with the concept of the dolls, each is from a different time period and comes with a story, accessories, and clothes. You can also order a doll that matches your child’s coloring and a complete line of modern clothes, pets, and accessories, but it is clearly the historical dolls that are designed to encourage the nostalgic dreams of collectors and grandmothers. The dolls and basic accessories are $129. Each one is very appealing on its own. However, the extra accessories are amazing and include clothes, food, pets, and furniture. Julie (1974) has a sky blue Volkswagen beetle ($350). Kit (1934), a writer, can sit down in her swivel chair and write at her roll top desk ($85). Marie-Grace (1853) has a half-canopy bed ($125) and Caroline (1812) has a wooden skiff ($175).
Then there is the “Bitty Baby” series. More sweet wonderfulness and all the accessories you might need for a real baby. And yes, there is even an elephant! Bitty’s Sweetie Elephant is $30.
I had many dolls as a child. I even had lots of doll clothes, but most of them were made on my mother’s sewing machine. Much of the furniture for my doll house was made from thread spools and little boxes and pieces of wood left over from my dad’s projects. If my accessories were lacking in quality or authenticity I made up for it with my imagination. When our own girls were children I made hundreds of little doll dresses, especially when they were in the Barbie phase. For several years I made dolls and sold them. So while I admire the cleverness of the American Girl dolls and the little world created for each of them, I wonder if purchasing all those pretty things has the same long-lasting impact on imagination and creativity as the “do-it-yourself” approach.
Pearl was probably the best doll I ever made. But I do love Molly McIntire!