An American Girl Doll That Doesn’t Exist Yet, and Other Christmas List Wishes From a Child

At Deadspin, Drew Magary talks about the items on his daughter’s Christmas wish list and it’s very, very funny, mostly because his daughter asks for things like, an American Girl Doll that won’t be on the market until next year:

“New American Girl Doll of the Year 2014.” The heartless corporate executives at American Girl roll out a new “doll of the year” doll every year, complete with its own book and shitty DVD movie (the last one starred Nia Vardalos and Ian Ziering) and a meticulously crafted backstory that reads like an account planner’s wet dream (“She’s a spirited girl who draws on her passions to inspire action!”). And the kicker is that these dolls are always sold for a limited time (the 2013 doll of the year, Saige, is also on my kid’s wish list and costs $110 if you can find her), so that mothers around the world step on each other’s gullets just to secure one for their brainwashed offspring. Anyway, American Girl has not named its stupid doll of the year for NEXT year yet, but my kid wants it anyway. I assume the doll’s name will be Kayden. Here is my kid asking for a present from the future, and that represents one of the more reasonable items. I love you, but you cannot have this, sweetheart.

She also asks for “A little thing that can turn into anything at anytime” which, wow, kid’s got quite the imagination!

At Thanksgiving dinner, all the ladies bonded over having American Girl dolls, which made it seem like American Girl dolls are as prevalent as Barbie dolls, except maybe not because they cost more than $100. Sounds like a pricey Christmas gift!

Also, I never wrote Christmas lists as a kid—my parents just bought me whatever they felt was affordable and appropriate, and I just sort of went with it (but was still terribly excited about opening gifts).

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36 Comments / Post A Comment

sea ermine (#122)

My family is big on christmas lists, like, not only did my sister and I write them we made our parents would write them as well. I don’t always stick to the list, but I like to use them as a jumping off point for inspiration. And it’s super useful for my mother, who never ever wants anything, but will occasionally agree to ask for a yankee candle or puzzles or something.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

Now that I am an adult I really wish we had been more of a list writing family. Unfortunately my parents like to treat Christmas like a test of character. If i was a better person surely I would know what to buy them. I assume that giving me anxiety is the only gift they truly enjoy so…Merry Christmas I guess?

lemur_niemer (#3,125)

@EvanDeSimone I’m so glad my family writes lists. Not even just “a bracelet” but “here is my amazon wishlist with the exact things I would like.” There’s also no shame in gift cards in my family. The funny thing is, I really like branching out and finding gifts that I think people will like. Sometimes it can lead to “Why didn’t get you get me what was on the list?” though.

p.s. I haven’t done my Christmas shopping yet so I guess it’s going in the Friday estimate after all.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@lemur_niemer Same here, although the suggests that I plan to do my shopping this weekend instead of three days before Christmas in a blind panic as is my personal tradition.

andnowlights (#2,902)

@EvanDeSimone @lemur_niemer We’re the list writing type too, down to the links of the exact thing we want. My Christmas shopping is 95% done (still need to pick up a copy of the magazine for which I got the subscription for my dad so he can unwrap it). Magic! The only rule in my family is no gift cards, but checks are somehow acceptable.

I have to wait to WRAP everything til I get home 3 days before Christmas, though, because all the wrapping paper has to match under the tree, per mom’s regulations. That is SO IRRITATING.

lemur_niemer (#3,125)

@andnowlights Matching wrapping paper is a little ridiculous.

I realized a couple of years ago that my mom always had “Santa paper” and “parents’ paper.” She still does this, which is kind of sweet.

Allison (#4,509)

@andnowlights My brother hates giving the direct links to what he wants…and then gets a little annoyed when someone takes his comment of “just throw a dart in the Giants Dugout Store” and misinterpreates it as “get me a dartboard”.

I do owe my aunt a list of stuff, but it’s hard because I’ve already given my mother basically every idea I have/nothing I want can be easily packed if I am given the actual item, and I know gift cards can be boring to give.

andnowlights (#2,902)

@lemur_niemer The tree does look really nice…

Of course, this is also the woman who has literally an ENTIRE room in the basement filled with entertaining ware like platters, glasses, 100 glass plates, etc. It’s kind of her thing.

andnowlights (#2,902)

@Allison Oh that’s intentionally annoying! he can’t even start to get annoyed if he’s going to make gift shopping a scavenger hunt for people. That would not fly in my family at all. This time of year is stressful enough without having to read between the lines.

franklina (#3,924)

@lemur_niemer Yes! We had “Santa paper” and “parents paper” too. So sweet!

And my parents would deviate from just Santa sometimes, like the year my little brother got a Nerf football “from John Elway.” He thought John Elway had really sent it because he was such a big fan…

Allison (#4,509)

@andnowlights I mean, had he even said “some Giants World Series gear, I’m a size L” that would have been WAY BETTER. I almost died laughing over the dart board though.

sherlock (#3,599)

I still associate American Girl Dolls with being my earliest understanding of class markers. I went to a fancy private school for a few years that my parents really couldn’t afford (hence why they eventually pulled me out.) I distinctly remember being invited to a doll tea party, where every single girl except me had brought their American Girl Doll. I just brought my favorite stuffed animal, which I thought was way cooler than a doll anyways. But I really remember noticing how upset it made my mom, and I think that’s one of the first times I really “got” the huge class difference between me and my classmates.

@sherlock I went to a parochial school, which was pretty economically diverse, but yeah – the American Girl Doll Havers (and the multiple-doll-havers!) versus the nots were the easiest way to figure out who was on reduced tuition and who wasn’t.

andnowlights (#2,902)

@sherlock I honestly had not thought about it being a class marker until this very moment. And now I’m really not sure how to feel about my dolls. So strange.

Tatiana (#194)

@sherlock I was an American Girl Doll have-not as well. I didn’t even know what they were until college when someone mentioned their collection and I was like, is that like a Cabbage Patch doll? Kind of a neat concept though.

Ellie (#62)

@sherlock I had an American Girl doll (Molly because she looked the most like me). I got her for, I think, my birthday when I was maybe eight or so? I was obsessed with the American Girl catalogue – I read the catalogue, read all the books, got books out of the library, wrote stories about them – and really wanted one. My mom spent over a month telling me that it was too expensive, so not to expect the doll, and I really didn’t. Later I think I ended up getting another one when they did the “Just like me” or whatever dolls, I’m not really sure why. That was out of my allowance and I didn’t enjoy her as much. It was a good experience for me and I was always pretty aware that they were expensive. In general I hate dolls (I have a thing about “fake people”) and only liked these because of the historical stuff.

E$ (#1,636)

I have some retroactive guilt about the fact that I had an American Girl doll, now that I know how expensive they are. I don’t even know how I found out they existed — probably from a catalog at my grandparents’ house (they also had the famous JC Penney’s ginormo Christmas book, also known as Things Kids Didn’t Know About But Now Definitely Need). I am consoled a little by the fact that I played with the doll for about 6 years, then played with her whenever my younger cousins came over until I moved out. And I’ll be able to hand mine down to my (as yet hypothetical) child. But still! $110!

I thought the funniest thing about the Drew Magary piece was how terrible it is when one kid at your kid’s school gets an iPod.

@E$ If it’s any consolation, they used to be $90, I believe. I remember poring over the catalogs and formulating Christmas/birthday requests (I was a spoiled only child).

Man, totally not the point, but this post is really making me want to call up some of my female friends so we can dig our old Samanthas and Felicitys out of storage and go to the (also overpriced) doll tea at the American Girl Store like a gaggle of creepy old ladies.

Bonnie St. Clair (#2,949)

@E$ I have retroactive guilt about having an American Girl doll too! Looking back, the money that my (single parent/schoolteacher) mom spent to get me the AG stuff that I thought was sooo cool was clearly a big expense relative to the disposable income in my family. I’m sure there were much less expensive toys that I could’ve been happy with, but American Girl dolls were super-popular among my friends so I had to have one (*sideeye at younger self*) But like you said, I did at least get a lot of use out of playing with my doll, and I got really into the nerdier parts of the AG empire and read all of the books and it spurred me on to seek out more books about history and about strong women/girl figures, so that was good.

E$ (#1,636)

@Bonnie St. Clair Yeah, the books are great! It’s a relief to see that Mattel (who bought AG Inc in the 90s sometime) has kept those up.

andnowlights (#2,902)

I had two American girl dolls and some of the furniture. All my friends had them, too, and our parents took us to this crazy American Girl doll official tea somewhere in downtown Atlanta. We all had dresses that matched our dolls; I took Samantha and had a dress that my mom made to match the red Christmas dress. There’s a picture somewhere that the internet will never see.

Looking back, it was probably a significant expense to my parents at the time. My dad switched jobs and it was rough (for them) for awhile right around the time it was important to have those dolls. Would it be weird to thank my parents at Christmas? I feel like I need to, now.

Also, I still love playing with them, not going to lie. I was friends with a 7 year old when we lived in Connecticut and I had SO MUCH FUN playing with that freaking doll. We even made it a dress (I’m a sewer). Still a kid at heart, I guess.

Bonnie St. Clair (#2,949)

@andnowlights Ha, I remember going to an American Girl doll tea too! It was at some hotel in downtown Nashville. I think there was also a fashion show component to it too (of course). That’s cool that your mom was able to make a dress to match Samantha’s dress (I definitely know which one you’re talking about!) – my mom ended up buying me the overpriced Molly party pinafore dress so I wore that to the tea.

My girlfriend wasn’t really into dolls growing up, and she thinks it’s hilarious that I proudly wore child-sized clothes modeled after a doll, haha. Looking back, it does seem funny now, but I was alll about it at the time.

andnowlights (#2,902)

@Bonnie St. Clair We all had matching dresses for that tea party! I will find the picture at home over Christmas and show you, as long as you promise not to post it on the internet lol. Now I wonder if there was a fashion show for ours too. I don’t remember that much of it. Will have to ask mom.

All of my Christmas dresses were modeled after all the American Girl doll Christmas dresses. So I had Samantha one year, Addy the next, etc. My mom was awesome at sewing.

Ellie (#62)

@andnowlights My mom and I made a lot of clothes/other objects for mine, too. It was really fun.

ATF (#4,229)

@andnowlights I never went to a tea but I did have matching dress. I think when I was 8 or 9, my mom got me the Christmas dress that matches Samantha. I was both completely stoked because I loooooooooooooved how pretty the dress was and more than a wee bit embarrassed because I felt entirely too old to match my doll. I still wore it though. There are photos of me in it somewhere I’m sure.

Bonnie St. Clair (#2,949)

@andnowlights Re: the photo of your Samantha dress, ha, it’s a deal. I think there’s a picture somewhere of me in my Molly dress, so I’ll have to look for it. Also, I’m totally jealous that you had multiple matching Christmas dresses for the different characters.

wrappedupinbooks (#1,426)

My first exposure to American Girl dolls was through the books at the public library. I was all about historical fiction, so I did like those books, but not enough to buy my own copies or anything. I think the only time I ever wanted a doll was because one of my friends had one. And then my mother reminded me that I didn’t actually like dolls (which was and is very true. I missed out on those caretaker/maternal instincts, I guess). And that was the end of that. I also later saw how much they cost in one of the cataloged or something and was horrified. $80 or whatever seemed like enough to buy a car or college (LOL). I was one of those kids who hoarded money though.

lemur_niemer (#3,125)

I just cleaned out my room at my parents house. I gave away a decade of t-shirts, but I did ask my mom to save my American Girl dolls. I loved them, and I loved the books too. Because they didn’t have an Asian-American one when I was growing up, the “looks like me” doll is white with brown hair – close enough, right? But I recently found out that they’ve expanded their diversity and now have an Asian-American doll named Julie. And all sorts of specialized accessories – like wheelchairs and hearing aids and special allergy bracelets. While part of me is like “ugh, more capitalism” most of me thinks it’s pretty cool that at least someone is offering this.

Also I definitely remember my mom taking me to some sort of American Girl warehouse sale. I think it was in WI?

Ahhh American Girl. My exposure is as an enabler: I subsidized my only niece’s collection with a yearly Christmas gift certificate and we always spent a day in the American Girl store in Manhattan where they have a doll hospital or something? That place was madness.

So glad she outgrew that phase and now we talk about Doctor Who when she visits.

Kthompson (#1,858)

I am only just now realizing how spoiled I was to have the American Girl dolls. I had multiple dolls (and the babies) and tons of the accessories. I had no idea they were so incredibly expensive. I have only good memories. Mom and I would read all the books together, and I loved the dolls and the accessories, and they were well made, quality toys that lasted forever. (Also, the boxes they came in made excellent Christmas boxes. We still have a few circulating!) And my mother was a single mom working as a teacher–we were NOT rich at all. Totally second all the retroactive guilt.

(Same with Playmobil. i had sooooo much Playmobil. And it was so much more awesome than Lego. In fact I just got some Playmobil for Christmas last year. Awesome at every age.)

franklina (#3,924)

@Kthompson Ahh this is my life exactly: (1) American Girl dolls and accessories from a non-rich single mom, (2) recirculating American Girl (and other) boxes under the tree to this day, and (3) Playmobil. Such cool toys.

I don’t feel too guilty about it though – extremely grateful, yes, but like you said, my mom and I would read all the books and play with the dolls and accessories constantly, and lots of love and repeated use can justify the price tag for a quality toy, IMO. Same with Playmobil. We played with them constantly and they are in the attic now, ready to reemerge when I have kids.

Also I suspect that at least 1/3 of my doll accessories and Playmobil set gifts were things that *my mom* wanted more than things I asked for specifically… Don’t get me wrong, I adore my Molly 1940s school desk, but I’m pretty sure my mom splurged on it because it reminded her of her own school days :).

Anyways, I doubt we’d have such lovingly fond memories of Barbies, so worth it in the long run.

jennonthego (#5,366)

I had a shitton of Barbies, so I definitely wasn’t immune to commercialization, but I never had an American Girl doll. I read all the American Girl books (back when there were only four Girls) and I don’t even remember asking for the doll. Or maybe I did and my mom looked at the price tag and said, “No,” in that way she had that made me never ask for it again because no amount of whining would change her mind (see also: the Princess dress I wanted at Disney World in 1987).

I was a little shocked to see my usually level-headed BFF angsting over how to add the dolls to her 3.5-year-old daughter’s Amazon wishlist, so the grandparents could buy them. I also thought they weren’t “play with” dolls, but maybe I’m wrong there too.

franklina (#3,924)

I made a PowerPoint Christmas list on my dad’s work computer when I was about 8. It had detailed descriptions of things I wanted and a TON of slide animations. It seemed like a very serious matter at the time…

E$ (#1,636)

@franklina I used to think Powerpoint was so cool, before it was required of me…

Li'l Sebastian (#3,297)

My parents and grandparents got me a complete embarrassment of American Girl Doll stuff that I have no use for as an adult, but when my parents moved out of their house, I told them to sell it on Craigslist. They got an email from a woman in our town whose husband had passed away suddenly saying that her daughters love American Girl dolls but she absolutely couldn’t afford to get them new stuff this year, and is there any chance she could get the stuff for cheaper or free. Giving those little girls that stuff remains probably the nicest thing I’ve ever done for the least amount of effort on my part. Their mom brought back some thank you cards they made us so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t some kind of scam.

So… folks feeling guilty about your AG collections, maybe give them to some kids?

Eric18 (#4,486)

The top comment is hilarious:

“A little thing that can turn into anything at anytime.”

She wants an old argument with your wife?

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