American Girl doll with matching American girlThe first American Girl dolls were meant to capture our nation's short, but colorful historical past -- to give girls a sense of how young females contributed to our country over the last 200 years.
Finally my niece is almost old enough for an American Girl doll. These are the dolls created by a Chicago area teacher named Pleasant Rowland. What started as a mail order business now includes a nation of destination stores that not only have everything you ever wanted for your dolls, but they also include salons where you can get your doll's hair styled and cut. And restaurants where you can take your doll to lunch. And cash registers that can empty your wallet faster than two beers and a hot dog at the ballpark.
So the dolls all have names and backstories to go with their period clothing. To completely indoctrinate the girls with our country's patriotic heritage, several books have been written and illustrated for each one of these heirloom creations. Recently there have even been feature movies produced for the big screen, to bring these precious dolls to life -- Kit Kitteridge anyone? Kit's story is the heartwarming tale of a girl growing up during the depression whose father loses his job, causing the whole family to suffer financial difficulties. Her accessories include socks with holes, a dress with raggedy sleeves and a cup for begging. Hey, you have to find laughter in the sadness, people.
Naturally, I have my own favorites. First there's Dolly, the redheaded friend of our nation's first physician's assistant, Clara Barton. Dolly nursed the Civil War troops and married a plantation owner after he was shot in the leg and lost all his land. Then there was Arrabelle, the hard drinking, expert markswoman who ran away from home to become a star in a Wild West Show run by Buffalo Bill. And Addy, the runaway slave girl who escapes to freedom so she can find her father and brother who were sold to a different owner. Another favorite is Tina who ran the first bordello in Tombstone, Nevada or Arizona, wherever the hell it is. She had a special relationship with a certain Marshall John Timmons who missed the 3:10 to Yuma. Okay, kidding. Actually I made up all the favorite dolls except one. And you're not sure which one, are you?
Meanwhile my darling niece is going to be six in a few days. The recommended age for the full-sized American Doll is eight. But frankly, I'm tired of waiting. She's getting a damn doll.
Of course, I didn't realize that wanting an American Girl doll was one thing. Getting one turns out to be not so easy. Despite the fact that my American Girl phone representative was, in fact, from America -- Caren with a "C" -- and she spoke with a well trained smile in her voice, it soon became apparent that no matter what I wanted, it was out of stock or on backorder. On top of that, for some reason, Caren just had to tell me that it's possible to expedite shipping so I can have an American Doll in my niece's hands practically overnight. This not helpful when it turns out there is almost nothing to send. Here's how our conversation went, sort of:
I'll have an Emily doll please, the English girl whose father is serving in the British armed forces during WWII. Her hair is styled like my niece's.
Sorry she's on backorder until July 31st. But you can get her hairbrush, the DVD, and that hot pink dress you like. Unfortunately, you can't have the hardcover book about her; it's only available in softcover.
She won't exactly need a brush for the doll's hair when she doesn't have the doll.
How about getting a matching hot pink dress for my niece? That would be cute.
No, sorry, we're all out of that.
Not even on backorder.
Nope, not even on backorder.
How about the soccer outfit. It looks just like the one she has.
Well, that's on backorder too; we are trying to get more, but we may not be able to.
You mean the soccer outfit is probably gone forever. But I notice it's still on the website.
Yes it is.
So it turns out my birthday gift may turn into a Thanksgiving Day surprise. Meanwhile, I gave my stepma [my niece's grandmama] a heads up -- find out what's in stock if you want anything to get there before the first snow.
Actually, I'm thinking maybe we go to Toys 'R' Us for some Barbies.