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I have a Little in my life who is pretty passionate about dolls.  Back in the days of old, any sort of doll would suffice.  A year ago, for last year’s birthday party, she encouraged all her little girlfriends to bring along their favorite doll to join the festivities.  Fast forward to the actual party and find me feeling contrite.  I had heard about scandalously priced dolls, but I thought they were for the spoiled Hollywood daughters attired in real fur and diamonds and $300 jeans and lipgloss, though they are only seven.  In my heart, I judged the mothers who bought these dolls. 

So at last year’s birthday party, imagine my surprise when eight of these infamous little dolls lined our living room couch.  My Little’s El-Cheapo doll from Zellers paled in comparison to the others, though she was ostensibly the Dolly Party Girl.  The quality discrepancy pained me as I saw it there splayed out so tangibly before me.  I felt badly for my Little, though she didn’t seem to care all that much, loving her Sophie-doll with a love that sometimes seemed too big for her little heart to contain.  All I could see was that Sophie’s painfully white skull peeped out tellingly from in between the sparse tufts of her inadequate head of hair when all around her languished diminutive heads of lushly confident doll hair.  Fast forward one more time.  To this:

This store just recently opened up in an American community an hour or so away from where we live, conveniently in this case, a little Canadian border town.  We’d heard about the store’s portentous arrival for months and in preparation, my Lucy had painstakingly saved her money so that she could buy one of these precious – in more ways than one – dolls.  She decided long in advance of our visit that though the “historical” dolls the chain sells in shocking abundance were lovely beyond compare, instead she’d like to own and adore a “Just Like Me” doll who, as the name implies, looks very much like the little girl owner in question.  Here are a mere half of the doll choices available:

Not surprisingly, for she is a very decisive little girl, Lucy decided on a lovely little thing she decided to name – partly in honor of her pseudonym for this blog and of course, partly in honor of Hermione Granger of Hogwart’s lore – Lucy Hermione.  Sadly, you’ll not see Lucy herself here today.  You will, however, be pleased to know that you’ll be free to feast your eyes on this little Beauty, who models one of the three Halloween costumes available to the Doll World this season.  Isn’t she lovely?  And how about that angel suit?

Here, too, you’ll be pleased to see a sampling of some of the historical dolls available.  These are the mini-versions.  Aren’t they sweet?

We had a great time.  It was much better than I expected.  I thought it was going to be one of those parenting duties one performs solely for the love of the children.  I didn’t expect to so thoroughly enjoy myself.  I surprised myself at varying points with a never-to-be-uttered-before-the-girls half-formed desire to buy myself one of these dolls.  I didn’t sucumb, mind you, but the seedling hope was there, all the same. 

They are everything I used to love about playing with Barbies, only better, because nurturing is tossed into the mix.  One can hardly nurture Barbies, can one?  Their bursting figures preclude all that.  They’re only good for playing the silently aloof  role of fashionista and for making out with GI Joe or Ken.  These innocent cherubs, on the other hand, they cry out to be cradled, to have their hair carefully brushed, to be tucked lovingly into their beds at night.  The fact that their beds are nicer than all the rest of ours hardly matters.

I was lucky to witness two episodes reminscent of Disneyland.  The star attraction of the American Girl store is arguably a Doll spa where you can have your careworn doll restored to – if not her original condition – then very nearly close.  Lucy, lucky duck, had her ears pierced there.  These special moments I refer to were when two little girls received their gussied dolls from the careful attentions of the Spa attendants.   The light in these girls’ eyes was enough to fully extinguish any last remnants of judgement for the excesses I thought I perceived before seeing it all for myself.  The newly restored hair on those dolls was a wonder to behold.  And not one smidgen of pale scalp showed through.