Emma saved her birthday money for 6 months until our Christmas trip home to the United States. It took her about 30 seconds to decide what she wanted to buy. An American Girl Doll. She has read many, many of the books… entire boxed sets. She chose a Rebecca doll. Rebecca looks like Emma, so it was an appropriate choice.
We did not take Emma with us when we went to the Mall of America. I wasn’t sure what kind of seizure she might have at the sight of a two-story shop full of American Girls. We had forewarned her that she would not be collecting dolls. We would not be buying her doll furniture. She could ask for clothes from the grandparents for her birthday, but we were not spending more money to dress the doll than we do to dress our real children. One doll was IT. Just one.
I seriously underestimated that store. The moment I set foot in that store a wave of panic washed over me! I have to find the right girl!! I grabbed the first employee that I saw and blurted out, “I need Rebecca!” I’m pretty sure this woman was under the same “happy spell” that all Disneyland employees are brainwashed with. She had a crazed smile plastered across her face. She spoke about the dolls like they were real people. “Rebecca lives downstairs. Let me take you to her.” One the ride down the escalator she recounted the general theme of the Rebecca books. As we entered the Rebecca section she pointed out the clothing and the furniture that was made for this doll. I recited my creed: One doll. One doll We are only here for one doll! For a second she looked at me like I was a cruel and self deluded parent, then her crazy smile snapped back into place and she said, “If you need anything else, just let me know.” We paid for the doll and ran like we had just robbed a bank!
The was no hiding the gigantic red bag from the American Girl Store. As we walked through the Mall of America to our parking spot I was afraid that we would get mugged by some Christmas crazed parent who also needed a Rebecca doll. “Let’s just get out of here!” I thought. I felt like all eyes were fixed on us and our big red bag. Oooh, what did THEY buy?
When we got back to the house were we were staying, Emma and all her girl cousins rushed me like a herd of wild Beiber fans. I raised the bag above their heads and landed it safely in the arms of my daughter. Squeals and screams erupted! I was a hero!!
I thought for sure there would be deep jealousy between my daughters. But Emma, very generously, gave a miniature American Girl doll that came with one of her boxed sets to her little sister Lulu with detailed instructions about how to care for the little replica. For a few weeks the girls played with their mismatched dolls with relatively little fighting. Then a miracle happened.
A pastor from one of our supporting churches came down to Costa Rica to visit us. He brought gifts from the ladies of the church. The ladies had heard that Emma had recently got an American Girl Doll. (One of the ladies was an employee of the A.G. store, I heard.) I was totally shocked and humbled when my 4 year old Lulu, opened her present. She had received her very own American Girl Doll… Kit Kittredge. You should have seen the look of joy on her face. Her excitement can not be exaggerated! It was literally a dream come true for little Lulu. That act of generosity and thoughtfulness took my breath away. I felt so blessed and happy for my girls- now they both have their own doll to play with. (The picts below include my girls and their friend Julia, also a missionary kid.)
It reminded me of the time when I was a girl and Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage. My sister and I, being pastors’ kids, did not have these dolls nor could we ever afford these dolls. A wealthy lady in our church who was a doll collector brought my sister and I over to her house and let us pick out any Cabbage Patch Kid we wanted! It was a dream come true and something that neither of us have ever forgotten. Children don’t forget these kinds of stories. Though they grow up and grow out of their toys, the warmth and love they feel from that kind of generosity is something that stays with them for a life time.