Hey Germany, I know you will be getting this on Tuesday but it’s still Monday here in Indiana….
One of the first things I did when I got home was to go see my rock star of a sister at work. For those of you who are unaware, my sister Heather works intimately for the Riley Children’s Hospital Cheer Guild. It is a non-profit organization that strives to bring smiles and hope to the little patients of the hospital. This last weekend has been the culmination of several months of work (she had been working on this when she came to visit me in March!):
The American Girl Fashion Show.
First I must answer the question all you non-Americans must be asking….what the hell?
Well, first you have to know what an American Girl is:
This is the current list of American Girls. They are dolls that represent a time in American history. For example, Kit Kittredge was the Great Depression, Addy Walker was the Civil War, and Kaya was part of a Native American tribe who had yet to experience contact with Europeans, .
This was actually the original group from my childhood (L to R: Felicity (Revolutionary War), Josefina (Mexican immigrant in New Mexico), Kirsten (Swedish Immigrant in the US), Addy (Civil War), Samantha (Edwardian Period), and Molly (World War II).
Each of these dolls come with books of the adventures of each of these girls set against the backdrop of these periods in American History. The point is to bring history to life by making them relatable. It was the first series of books I got into when I was about eight years old.
Anyway, so what does this have to do with a fashion show?
Well, like any American company – The American Girls make a killing off merchandise (clothes for the dolls, accessories, and now clothes for the girls!). There is enough clothing between the dolls and girls to make a fashion show. It was actually quite cool:
They started with matching outfits for the girls and their dolls – each one trying to be historically accurate (I am not a fashion historian so I couldn’t tell you the authenticity) but then they took it a step further in making a more “modern” version of the outfit to bridge the gap between yesteryear and today:
When my sister organized this event, American Girl supplied almost everything (not including the venue and catering and such). There were four shows over the weekend accommodating 400 guests for each event. I saw raffles, doll hair dressers, and door prizes all created to help raise money for the Cheer Guild.
It was hella successful and I am very proud of my sister 🙂 She raised a lot of money for her little patients at Riley Hospital and I know that means the world to her.
As I watched this event take place, I thought about how American this is. I couldn’t think of a similar brand in Germany that also gained such a loyal following.
But when we were leaving, I overheard a conversation between a grandmother, mother, and child. They were telling the young girl about their own American Girl doll that they owned. It may not be an old brand (created in 1986 – as old as me) but it is getting to the point that there are now multiple generations with their own fond memories.
It suddenly dawned on me how it could it would be to pass on my own American Girl doll to my own daughter.
I own Samantha but still have her dressed up as a concert mistress (as I was one in high school). When I held her in order to take this picture, I was filled with a sudden sense of nostalgia. I immediately felt like I was eight years old again when I was first given to her as a Christmas present. These dolls are still really cool (even if they cost you a literal arm and a leg) and I really like the idea of passing the doll to the next generation in my family.
Then I realized that Germany does have a similar tradition that is passed on: Steiff…..
Now I am sure some of the Americans are now scratching their heads.
Steiff is a brand of Teddy Bear originating in 1880 (almost 100 years old than American Girl). They are recognizable for their movable arms (which is also the reason why they cost more than an American Girl doll)
Because of their hefty price tag, these beauties are passed down. My friend, Nicola, had told me that she owns a Steiff that was given to her by her grandmother. I also found this to be a cool tradition. I know it can be rather materialistic of me to put such stock in teddy bears and dolls but the way they are cherished generation after generation is truly something beautiful.
What about you out there? Is there that special toy that was given to you or you have given? What was it?