A Doll's Christmas

[Previous Suburban Farmgirl, October 2009 – October 2010]
So I have to ask: Are there any dolls on your Christmas-buying or -making list this year? I’m wondering because — as I troll websites and ogle, as I do every year, things I might have wish-listed as a girl – I’ve realized that my very favorite present to give this time of year is… a doll.
Yep, dolls!
Admittedly it’s not the kind of gift you can give everybody (or most anybody!) on your list. And — big sigh — my three girls are outgrowing their doll years. But when you have the right recipient, and (this is key) you’re a “doll girl” yourself, like me – why there’s nothing more fun to give.
Dolls can be so much to a girl: Confidant, role model, co-conspirator, pal, loved one to nurture, loved one to nurture you. It’s a real shame kids think they want to abandon them earlier and earlier.

I was never much of a baby-doll doll girl. (Although today I can’t resist sniffing those vanilla scented Corolle babies.) My own #1 dolls were my two Barbies, April and June. April Patterson (a Twist-‘n-Turn with long blonde hair) was the mom to all the dozens of my other, shorter dolls, from Skipper and Pepper down to the petite, heavily eye-shadowed Dawn dolls and myriad Liddle Kiddles (the Polly Pockets of their day).
June Peterson, on the other hand, ran the Tinytown Dress Shop (all the doll clothes my godmother sewed for me, in two stand-up cases) and the Big Tree Ranch (my Breyer horse collection, stabled under the Christmas tree). June, who had a sleek black pageboy and was partial to Barbie jeans, was the permanent fiancé, never wife, of Brad Bradshaw, my sister’s Ken doll.
(April, sadly, was married to Tag, large molded-plastic dog who permanently stood on his hind legs, giving him a vaguely human appearance – very vaguely – but the requisite height. When we went to play at my cousin Jennifer’s, however, Tag was ditched for her brother’s G.I. Joe – shorter than Barbie but infinitely more masculine.)
One mother, one working woman – clearly I didn’t have any role models combining both roles growing up. (I didn’t!)
My godmother, Auntie Helen, was my “supplier,” clearly a doll-girl herself. A certified “doll doctor,” she rehabbed dirty, broken ones and gave many to my sister and I. She handsewed teensy snaps on fabulous doll ballgowns. She also made adorable stuffed dolls with big eyes and fat yarn curls. One sat on my bed when I lived in a hotel for women in New York City in my early 20s! Alas, I’m moving and many of these old favorites have been packed up, or I’d show them to you. (June, my working-woman Barbie, usually perches on a shelf in my office in my childhood idea of her “ranch clothes” – a felt poke bonnet, jeans, and a gingham apron, all by Auntie Helen).
Having three girls has been an excuse to buy all the dolls of my heart’s desire. Here’s Eleanor’s Madame Alexander collection, which her Mima began and I try to expand each year (mostly by scouring eBay)… a “Scarlett O’Hara” the year she discovered Gone With the Wind… a sweet “Monkeying Around” Wendy honoring our shared love of sock monkeys.

Another year, I found a close-out on these lovely dolls sold by the defunct web company iDoils. They were American-Girl-doll sized although leaner, and each cost $20 with a bundle of clothes tossed in free!:

Here’s next-in-line Margaret with “Love Toy,” the blanket-doll she carried everywhere for years (and literally loved them to bits – like the TV “Lassie” played by many dogs, there were about six Love Toys, as I bought replacements or my mom made them when the previous version disintegrated):

And finally baby-loving “baby” Page (now 10), holding the gingerbread baby I pull out every year, along with a Christmas rag doll and a big stuffed Santa. (Used to be hard to pull this doll away from them when I put decorations away each year, though I’m glad I thought to preserve it.)

But despite these kid pix, this is not a post about children, really. I think I mostly buy so many dolls because they make me happy! Try it! Besides the obvious – little girls – you can bestow a doll on a surprising range of happy recipients:
* An expectant mom (if she knows she’s having a girl)… a store manager once talked me into a gorgeous Madame Alexander baby in a christening gown to give to my yet-unborn child at “her” christening – and I didn’t even know the baby’s sex yet!
* A soon-to-be big brother and or sister (make it a baby doll, natch).
* Any girl at heart. What girlfriend could resist one you made yourself — or that looks like you might have if you had the time and talent, like these MaryJane dolls?!
* Someone with dementia. There’s actually such a thing as “doll therapy” for people with dementia. Having a baby doll to hug and nurture can be very soothing, especially to older women.
Finally, here’s a parting shot from a few Christmasses ago, the girls’ Santa loot. Mrs. Claus must be a doll-girl, too! Notice the Dorothy doll, the wooden dollhouse and family, the Corolle baby, the Heidi doll next to the Heidi book, and not one but two doll books: Tasha Tudor’s The Doll’s Christmas, and The Doll’s House by Rumer Godden. All highly recommended presents, btw!

Now, shhhh, I have to go and buy one more perfect doll I just found for the collection of a certain not-so-little girl on my list…

  1. Dear Paula, Your daughter is a total doll!! What a beauty.

    I was torn between being a die-hard outdoorsy tomboy and a sometimes dollgirl. My favorite doll was my Thumbelina who looked very real and she moved.

    Very odd that later in life I became a professional dollmaker and pattern designer. One of my historic dolls made her way to Rockefeller Center at Christmastime.

    I too love anything Tasha Tudor…I noticed your book.

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas. Happy Holidays from Wyoming!
    Shery Jespersen

  2. Forrest says:

    I think ine if the thigs that grabbed my attention was the Tasha Tudor book. I love her dearly and I love dolls. I made both my children dolls and I have made doll clothes for them. Much joy comes from this for me and them. I find my children have an extended identity with a doll. This year for christmas, Alex’s doll Sam is getting new pants, top and a vest. While Trinitys doll is getting a new dress and Pants. I knitted both of these out of wool and trimmed them in silk ribbons.

  3. carol branum says:

    hi,love your blog,your daughter is cute also.I also love dolls.I have a Poor Pittiful Pearl,1960,Originally she had a bar or Ivory soap in her apron,a scrub brush and a small bottle of Ivory dish Liquid.Time has not been good to her,and she is damaged,but I still love her the most.I will post a picture of her today on my blog…themofarmersdaughter@blogspot.com….merry christmas,carol branum,lamar mo.

  4. Nancy J Jones says:

    Hello & Merry Christmas,

    I am a doll-girl and have been as long as I can remember. It doesn’t have to be any special doll, just one that for some reason touches my heart. Out of my five children, only one is a girl. And every Chritmas, since her first, Kate has gotten a doll. This year, her 28th Christmas, I hope to get her a really special doll since she is getting married next November. A few years ago I became a "Nana" and I have continued to give my three precious grand-daughters a doll every year, too…Hopefully, they will grow to become doll-girls also…thank you for sharing your story..

  5. Marilyn Collins says:

    My twin sister and I are doll lovers and collectors. We received a Ginny doll with all the accessories one christmas. We played with them for endless hours with our two best friends until they moved away. We still collect dolls. We usully give them as gifts to each other for Christmas and our birthday. Hope you receive a doll for Christmas from Santa Claus!
    Wishing yuo and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  6. I sadly watched my 13 year old daughter pack away her dolls today. She has decided she wants to redecorate her room to suit her age and dolls just don’t fit into her picture of what a teen’s room is suppose to look like. My younger sister and I spent hours playing "Mom" to Christine Jones, Ruth and Deluth (twins), Patty and our one boy doll, William. (I’m not sure how we came up with these names!) I wish I would have had the foresight to keep my old dolls. I will be sure to keep my daughters so that when she is my age she can remember the fun she had with them when she was young!

  7. Hilda Collins says:

    I love your blog!!
    I really enjoy the Tasha Tudor books. I received my
    first very own this past Christmas.

    Your daughter is quite lovely and is lucky to have
    a Mom that enjoys dolls.

  8. april says:

    i am a mom of three daughters and we are overrun with dolls–because,as my husband says,they like them because i do. we have certainly got a "doll" issue around here! i enjoyed your post immensely. will have to find that tasha tudor book to enjoy. glad i found you!

  9. Gourmet Blogger says:

    Terrific forum. I hadn’t noticed sfgblog.maryjanesfarm.org before in my searches. Wonderful work!
    I am a noobie here and I’m sorry if this is not the right place for this post.
    You rock! gourmet food

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