When Principles Meet Nostalgia

Nik and I have some fairly strong convictions on what kind of toys we want to have in our house.  I blogged about this more extensively in this post.  Specifically, we decided that we didn’t want to have any plastic toys in our house.* Along with no plastic toys, we also have decided that we don’t want any “branded” items in our house (namely, no Dora, no superheroes, no Angry Bird, etc.).*

Last fall, as I was continuing my quest to rid our house of unnecessary stuff (which seemingly will never end), I came across a box of my old dolls and doll clothes.  In that box was my old Cabbage Patch doll and my old Strawberry Shortcake doll.

I LOVED those dolls.  I have a picture from fourth grade of all the girls in my class who had Cabbage Patch dolls.  Mine was named Jobena Freda and she had a green cheerleader uniform.

Jobena Freda was almost all cloth except for her head, which was plastic.  Strawberry Shortcake had a plastic head plus plastic arms and legs.  She also smelled like strawberries (still!  25-30 years later!).  The smell of her breath was really comforting to me, even at age 36.

And so there was my dilemma:  I played with those dolls a lot.  My family gave them to me.  But they were made of plastic and they were branded – two things that Nik and I had definitely decided we didn’t want in our house.  Also, another change we made in our house years ago was to have nothing that was artificially scented (knowing that pretty nasty chemicals are used to create those scents).  So I knew that we weren’t going to have Ellie play with the dolls (and breath Strawberry Shortcake’s toxic breath) and that they would probably just live in a box.

So what did I do?  After a bit of agony, I sent them to Salvation Army.  It wasn’t a decision that I took lightly but ultimately, I decided that my good memories of those dolls were enough.  I didn’t need to also own the physical dolls and to have their presence taking up physical and emotional space in my life.

I did keep the doll clothes that my paternal grandmother sewed for those dolls.  Those clothes are precious to me and I think they might fit Ellie’s doll.  I also kept a few cloth dolls that my grandmother brought to me from other countries and a small doll that she made herself.  I am looking forward to telling Ellie about her great-grandmother while we play dolls with those things.

Now that it’s been a few months since I gave those dolls away, I think I can say I made the right decision.  It’s hard to find the balance between keeping and giving/throwing away.  In this situation, I’m glad I chose “give away”.


*We certainly don’t keep Ellie from playing with plastic and/or branded toys when she is elsewhere.  Part of why she so loves going to Yiayia’s house is all the fun brightly-colored noisy toys!

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8 Responses to When Principles Meet Nostalgia

  1. Mom says:

    Tough decisions! But I agree that we don’t need the real thing when we have the memories. And what good would they be staying in the box? Maybe another little girl will love them!

  2. Martha says:

    I wish I still had my doll that I had when I was three. She was a doll that was given to me by my uncle and she was the same size as me. I considered her as my friend and playmate . I had given her a name, which was Vasiliki. I am sure my granddaughter would love to see her and treasured her, It would be even better if my grandmothers dolls were around. Am I too romantic?

    • Laura says:

      I don’t think you’re too romantic! I had the easy situation of actually having the doll and so being able to decide whether or not I wanted to keep it. I can see how I would be more sad if I hadn’t had that choice. I did keep the dolls that my grandmother brought from me from other countries so I’m hoping those become heirlooms for our family.

      And wow – that must have been a huge doll if she was the size of a 3-year old! How fun!

  3. Did you take any pictures of you and your dolls? That would’ve been sweet!

    • Laura says:

      I didn’t this time around although I do have a picture from 4th grade with all my friends and our Cabbage Patch dolls. I’ll post it if I can find it!

  4. Nicole says:

    Wow Laura! I commend you for sticking to your guns. I still have a box of toys from when I was little as well. I even have the strawberry shortcake doll you had! Never once did I consider her strawberry scent that still lingers to be a chemical. More things to think about. We haven’t done the no plastic like you. I definitely understand the logic. The things we’ve purchased have been intentional toys like Uncle Goose blocks, Tegu blocks, a precious handmade doll from Hazel Village, a knitted giraffe, two Green Toys recycled plastic tugboat and sub for bath time, and some books. She’s been given many toys and I don’t have the heart to toss them when people intentionally thought of her and got them. What was your deciding factor for no plastic?

    We too are going to be drastically downsizing. We aren’t sure what it will look like in the end, but I think we’ll only have a few rooms of stuff versus a whole house.

    • Laura says:

      Sounds to me like you’ve been really intentional about what toys you’ve brought into Sarah’s life, Nicole! I hadn’t heard of Tegu blocks – they sound really fun to play with!

      By far, the deciding factor for us in terms of no toys was space and our desire to have very little stuff. I know there are some really great plastic toys out there too but it was an easy way for us to drastically reduce the amount of toys we could possibly own.

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