Saturday, November 19, 2011

I've been hunting

...for the original clothes for my American Girl "Kirsten" doll ever since I brought her out of storage for Maya and Sophie to play with. Until a few months ago, she was packed up in a clear zippered bag on a shelf in the basement, just waiting for the day my daughters were ready.

This summer, when one of Maya's generous friends decided to just GIVE her an (extra) American Girl doll...(and a Bitty Baby for Sophie, and dresses and accessories, etc.) it was time. I decided to get my Kirsten out, so that when another friend came over to play (that same day), they could play together. But my doll had no clothes. I just knew that they were packed away carefully in a shoe box...somewhere. I asked my parents to search my old closet, the garage storage, the crawl space...

When I was little, I knew that ownership of such a doll was no small thing. In fact, no one gave her to me. I'm pretty sure I knew better than to even ask. I carefully studied (or memorized) the catalog as I saved my money...for...years. When I finally had the $90, I ordered her.

Just the doll. Not the extra accessories...

Not any of the other outfits or books or furniture either. I made those. I sewed a detailed quilt by hand, my dad built a poster bed, and I made pillows, a sham, a fitted sheet & top sheet, I made her an apron, my mother sewed her an extra dress. I loved this doll. And I loved the historic time she represented and all the ways she excited my imagination.

I do have issues with the whole game that the "American Girl" company runs. While there are a few great ideals wrapped up in the "American Girl" package, it mostly seems to be a slick and brilliant business, marketing endless products and accessories, all exhorbitantly priced, offering branding and identity shaping, early materialism building.... The whole machine makes me a bit cynical.

But I'm obviously still (a little?) guiltily hooked. I try to be a skeptic, but deep down, it's really hopeless for me.

After that day that I pulled my Kirsten out of storage, I did a little internet searching on her. She's 'retired' now, and sells for over $300 new. Not that I'd ever try to sell her (she's not in good enough shape if I did)...I was however a bit more desperate to find those original clothes. I called my parents again. I went there and dug through my old closet myself. No luck.

Tonight, as Ryan pulled down the Christmas boxes from the garage attic, he found a box, a huge forgotten plastic tub. He thought it might hold some of my childhood things. He was right. It was filled with baby blankets and six labeled shoe boxes, each a treasure chest for a sentimental mother of two little daughters. Inside the tub, I found my old Madame Alexander baby doll from my Aunt Connie, my only "Barbie" (not a real worldly Barbie, of course. Mine was actually a Biblical "Esther" doll purchased at the local Christian book store), my Hatian doll (brought back by missionaries), a white and pink quilt from my bed, a few of my prettiest baby clothes, several doll dresses, and my beloved "Sarah" cabbage patch doll.

I had a handsewn "cabbage patch-wanna-be doll" for a long time (that someone made lovingly for me, I'm sure), but it just was never the same to me. I always wanted a real one, like all my friends had. When I was seriously ill in the hospital as a five-year-old, my next-door neighbors bought one for me. I still remember opening the box in my hospital bed. She had long brown hair and brown eyes like mine. She wore authentic cabbage patch accessories, white & pink pin-stripe jeans, white tennis shoes with pink stripes, a pink rain jacket (all found preserved in this magical bin). Owning her then made me feel SO rich.

And in the box on the bottom, Kirsten's things. The pillow I made for her bed with a ruffled edge and heart hand stiched in the center, a red flannel nightgown (which will be perfect for our Corbin family Christmas red-flannel pajamas tradition) and Kirsten's original dress and apron.

I'm full of once forgotten memories now, and...pretty excited to reveal my treasures in the morning to my two sleeping girls.

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