Monday, February 16, 2009

Kit Kittredge Books: A Lesson in Hope

M and Bestemor in 2006 at AG Cafe / Kit and Ruthie Books/ Miss A with Ruthie Christmas 08

Kit Kittredge has been a member of our family since 2006 when M turned six and my mother-in-law took us to the American Girl Store/Cafe on Michigan Avenue for lunch and shopping. It was a Girls Day Out for all of us and the memories made will last forever.

Kit's best friend Ruthie Smithens became a member of our family this Christmas when A received her as a gift from "Santa". Together Ruthie and Kit, along with A and M, have made our home come alive with little girl play, cute doll clothes from AG and Bestemor's Sewing Room, and many hours of make believe.

I was a late lover of American Girl thinking they were a costly marketing ploy. I'm still not sure that little girls should have dressers for their dolls that cost almost as much as their own or pretend carriages that cost twice as much as a big wheel bike. However, the stories that come with the dolls and the life lessons they allow me to share have overcome my objections. It doesn't hurt that the dolls have no makeup or naked bellies like so may other dolls on the market today.

A and I have been reading the Kit Story Books at rest time each day since Christmas. We started with the Ruthie Book as it was our newest and most treasured. Once we finished that book, we have been reading the six books in the Kit series. We are within pages of finishing the last book. I'm getting sad to think this series is almost done. A and I have come to know the Kittredge family and friends through these books. While the books are quick reads, they are filled with wonderful adventures along with lessons on courage, hope, and perseverance. The characters have truly become our friends. A asked the other day what had happened to Kit's brother as he was missing for a few chapters. She was relieved when Charlie returned to the scene.

If you are not familiar with Kit, she is one of American Girls' Historical Dolls. She is a 9 year old living in Cincinnati with her family in the midst of the Great Depression. Her father has been forced to sell his car dealership and is unemployed. Her mother has turned their home into a Boarding House to pay the mortgage. Kit is a newspaper reporter with an eye for stories.

These stories could be written about today and the state of our current economy. If you believe the doom and gloom I hear each day on the news and witness Wall Streets ups and downs, it's easy to think we are in another " depression". I think the President is convinced that there is no good news to share with the country.

I'm choosing to look at the state of affairs today much like Kit and her family did I see a future with hope and courage. A and I have had some great chuckles over things Kit has done. We loved her Aunt Millie's crazy ideas and the "Waste Not Want Not Almanac" Kit wrote to document her ideas. We've found it so encouraging to see neighbor helping neighbor. We've enjoyed seeing people want to make it on their own without waiting for a bailout or safety net to help them out.

While at 4, A is really to young to grasp the economy or even what it means to be a consumption focused society, we have had some deep talks about ways we help others and ourselves. We've talked about passing things down to others and giving away toys and clothes we don't need any longer. We've talked about that while they might advertise Bendaroos every day on TV and give us the number to call, we don't need to rush out and buy them. We have plenty of toys right now. It's a lesson for not only the youngest member of our family but for me as well.

Enjoying Chinese Take Out on Saturday night as a family was just as much fun as a dress up Valentine's Dinner at a restaurant. My husband and kids have enjoyed the leftovers for two days. We enjoyed family time at the table and watched No Deposit, No Return, a Disney classic that was very inexpensive on pay-per-view. It was simple, fun and we helped the economy without breaking ours.

Kit Kittredge and Ruthie will be members of our family for a long time to come. I see many more hours of play and pretend in the bedrooms upstairs. I'm praying that the lessons learned from Kit and Ruthie about perseverance, courage, willingness to do with what we have, and not complaining are lessons that will outlast the dolls.

I'm wondering what books A and I will tackle next. I'm thinking about a little pig and friendly spider? Any suggestions? Just don't count on me wishing for a barn full of animals after that story.

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