For about three weeks now, an American Girl catalogue has been sitting on my coffee table. The thing has been flipped through so many times that I can tell what Jellybean was eating during a particular trip down her ever-expanding wish list.
It looks like she was enjoying noodles with butter while perusing through Kit Kittredge’s page. Kit is a “clever, resourceful girl facing the Great Depression with spirit and determination,” according to the catalogue. Living in such a downtrodden time in our nation’s history doesn’t seem to have put a damper on Kit’s fashion sense as she comes dressed in some snazzy clothes including a lilac sweater set, pleated linen skirt, cotton bloomers and T-strap sandals.
This is what Jellybean wants for Christmas … not just Kit Kitteredge or Julie Albright or Rebecca Rubin, but pretty much the whole bloomin’ catalogue. From the “Bitty” babies to the “Bitty” twins all the way down to “My American Girl,” which allows Jellybean to create a doll that either looks just like her (creepy) or is one of her own creation — complete with hairstyle options, clothes, glasses and enough accessories to make Kei$ha feel underdressed.
To the uninitiated, American Girl Dolls are period-specific, historical dolls of the highest craftsmanship and detail. For example, the aforementioned Julie Albright is something of a hippie chick circa 1974: “a fun-loving girl from San Francisco who faces big changes and creates a few of her own.”
They are pretty cool … for girls, I mean. Each American Girl has her own little scenic life accessories, ranging from Julie’s 1970s VW Beetle (complete with “SFGIRL” vanity plate) and Kit’s newspaper reporter set, to Saige with her hot air balloon and Caroline and her sailboat. They also have desks, canopy beds, horses, dogs, cats, a cow, endless dresses, headbands, purses and other stuff that little girls love to play with — all sold separately, of course.
The only thing they don’t have are affordable prices. Seriously, I could buy a real baby for the price of an American Girl Doll, but Jellybean is apt to notice the difference.
So what’s a dad to do? I hid the thing, replacing it with one from Target.
Christmas can be tough for parents. We want to give our children everything they ask for, but doing so means selling plasma to pay off the Visa bill, leaving you too sluggish to discipline the spoiled brat your foolish generosity created.
Part of Christmas is dealing with disappointment, both by what we give and what we get.
The Diva’s going to be the only one really getting what she asks for this year, ‘cause all she wants is cash. Not that I blame her. I remember getting sweaters that didn’t fit, toys I’d outgrown and video games that were stacked up and forgotten in the corner of my bedroom. Cash is one-size-fits-all. Cash puts gas in the car. Cash buys the clothes she’ll actually wear, saving us money in the long run.
But, of course, Christmas is about more than the gifts you get, or give. And when those presents and expectations get too high, it’s a good time to remember that the real gift of the holidays cannot be wrapped and stuck under the tree. It can only be found when people who love one another take the time to create the moments that will linger in their hearts long after the lights have come down, the dolls have disappeared to the back of a closet and the cash has been spent.
In that, Christmas can last all year … just like the credit card bills.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.