Monday, August 12, 2013

All-American girl

I'm back! Andrew and I had a wonderful vacation, and pictures from the trip (along with a few travel tips I've learned) will be coming this week.

And since I left you hanging about the story of my American Girl doll —not intentionally, but our internet connection was really awful during most of our trip — it's time to explain.

When I was about eight years old, I started getting American Girl doll catalogues in the mail every few months. If you were a girl growing up in the late '80s or early '90s, you probably remember them, too: glossy, thick pages with beautiful dolls, accessories, clothes and even matching clothes for girls. Every time that catalogue came, I pored over it, dreaming of a doll of my own.

My parents quickly made it clear that there was no way they'd be buying me a $100 doll — and if I wanted one, I'd have to earn the money myself. For a while, I held lemonade stands and tried to save up the occasional quarters I got for helping with chores, but I realized early on that earning $100 as a kid was an impossible task.

I even took matters into my own hands and wrote a letter to the Pleasant Company asking them why their dolls were so expensive and telling them how much I wanted a Samantha doll. I actually got a polite, personal response back with something about how the American Girl dolls were purchased from a vendor with high prices, and that was why they were expensive.

After a while, I no longer tried to earn money for the doll and resigned myself to the fact that I would never have one. I had one friend who had a Kirsten doll, so I occasionally convinced her to let me play with her. I read all of the books and knew all about Felicity, Samantha, Addie, Molly and Kirsten's histories.

A few years ago, I started looking into the dolls again, just to see which new historical figures they'd added and how things had changed in about 15 years. I was shocked to find out that they'd "retired" the Samantha doll and were planning to retire even more dolls. I wondered if I'd ever see the Samantha doll again.

Finally, a couple weeks ago, I read an article about how two more dolls were going to be retired at the end of the year. And if that weren't bad enough, they were moving away from the historical dolls and focusing instead on dolls you could personalize to look like your daughters.

I have to say that as much as I wanted Samantha because she kind of looked like me (with brown hair and brown eyes), I wanted her more because I was obsessed with the Victorian era and had read all of her books. Because of the Samantha doll and the associated stories, I read so many more other books about the early 1900s. For a long time, I even wanted to name my future son Teddy (don't worry; I no longer have this dream).

So I started scouring eBay for a Samantha doll in good shape and bought one. When she arrived, I felt every bit as excited as I would have at eight years old. I lovingly pulled out her little clothes and the Meet Samantha book I loved so much and felt like I was in second grade again, playing dolls with my friend Jessica and wanting to pull her Kirsten doll out at every possible moment.

Samantha is now sitting in our guest room, waiting for our little girl to eventually come along so she can play with her and have her own adventures. I want my daughters to learn about history, to play make believe and to enjoy a special keepsake doll that they can hopefully pass on to their own kids someday.

I can't wait to share Samantha, and I'm looking forward to reading the book and falling in love with her story and 1904 all over again.

Do you have an American Girl doll? Do your daughters? I'd love to hear your stories!


  1. No doll here, but we do get the catalogs, and I don't have a daughter. :-)

  2. love it!!
    for some reason the catalogs would come to my brother, so i would grab them instead and go over the dolls and accessories.

  3. You were one dedicated kid! When my parents told me I couldn't have an American-Girl doll I just kind of moped around instead of doing something about it. I'm glad you found Samantha!

  4. Awesome story! I was the same way growing up. I wanted Molly so much but never got her. Then when I was 17, my sister (who was only nine at the time) decided that I should have my dream. Starting in the summer, she worked for months to earn the money to buy Molly for ME (not for herself!) for Christmas. It was definitely a Christmas to remember!

  5. Aww I love the AG's.. I was in love with the Felicity series and doll!

  6. Lend me your ear and I will tell you a somewhat morbid American Girl doll story. When I was younger, I got Kirsten. I'm not really sure why. She looks nothing like me, but I thought her clothes and accessories were cute. I liked her just fine until I took out her braids and ended up with a blonde rats' nest, and then I got disenchanted with her homey accessories. So I decided I wanted Samantha instead. At the time, AG had recently opened their doll hospital. Well, I bid Kirsten goodbye (without a tear to be shed) and packed her off to the hospital with a rather endearing letter saying how much I really wanted Samantha and to please switch heads. To AG's credit, they did as I requested (sent a whole new doll, actually). Though she came in a little hospital gown, someone tucked in Samantha's plaid hair ribbon and called it her "meet ribbon." I was thrilled. I took great care of Samantha and look forward to passing her down (head intact) to my daughter, if I ever have one. Coincidentally (maybe?), soon after that AG's doll hospital said that they would only do a head reattachment for the same doll.

    This would make a great Halloween story, eh?


Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts! I love reading them.