"Yes, I think they're nice, and the girls are old enough, they'd love them".
"But really, have you been to the store, have you seen the madness?".
Impossible to sway her, my step mother wanted to buy Mary and Kate American Girl dolls for Christmas last year and she was insistent. Eventually I agreed to her most generous offer but only if she would come here and take them to the store, I couldn't imagine doing it myself. Years ago I went in, with Heather and her daughter, and it was terrifying. Jack met us there, he barely stepped in the front door before shrieking and running away fast, laughing at the fathers lined up outside.
The dolls arrived several weeks before Christmas, unwrapped. Late at night Jack and I dug into the packages, there were the two dolls, Kit and Molly, but also extra clothes, accessories, and books. Knowing that she was right, and that the girls would love all of this, I wrapped it all individually, making a pile of gifts for them to open Christmas morning.
First we handed them the small packages, the accessories and clothes. As expected they went wild, screaming and jumping, delighted with everything they had opened. Mary ran from the room, returning seconds later with Barack Obama wearing Molly's glasses. Oh dear, and then Kate, Dick Durbin now modeling Kit's beret. We hadn't considered this.
Confidently we handed them the big packages, certain they would fall instantly in love with these beautiful dolls. Mary got her paper off first, dryly she muttered "oh, it's a doll". Kate looked terrified, she tentatively tore off the paper, took one look at Kit and started sobbing. "I don't want a new doll, I love Baby Dick Durbin".
Having two babies myself I tried to convince them that there was plenty of love to share but they couldn't be swayed, no thank you, no new dolls. Jack tried, he showed them all the new clothes, and the books, but eventually removed the dolls to preserve the happiness of Christmas day.
From time to time Molly and Kit came out, we would play with them, the resistance becoming less and less pronounced. One day in May I heard them banging around in their closet, throwing shoes and laundry and stuffed animals from the very back of the tiny space, in search of Kit and Molly.
Kate and Mary have found room in their heart for both Dick and Barack, and Molly and Kit. Dick and Barack sleep where they always have, held suffocatingly close at night, while Molly and Kit have their own cradle. The girls change their clothes constantly, and Dick and Barack have been kind enough to reciprocate, sharing some of their colorful outfits, none of which fit American Girl dolls. It's a fine example of an expanded family that really works.
This year my stepmother sent another large box for the girls, inside I found several new outfits for Molly and Kit. Wrapping them each individually, I wrote out the cards to the dolls, for the girls to open. The day before Christmas I realized I had nothing under the tree for the politicians. Using the guise of needing another gift for their three month old cousin, I took the girls to the local toy store, hoping to sneak out with outfits for Dick and Barack. Easy to do as Kate spent easily 20 minutes inspecting each and every stuffed animal she thought suitable for an infant. In the end we left with a very small soft lion, and two more doll outfits, although it is getting more and more challenging to find doll clothes appropriate for a Senator and a President. We own every non pink item they offer.
Kate, clutching Dick on Christmas morning
There was great joy on Christmas morning with each opened package. As is the case in our family, there is plenty of love, love enough for two.