Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dolls Equal Sadness...or the Story of Wasted Opportunity

This is Sluggy's Cautionary Tale.


I got the remaining load of dolls uncrated, cleaned up their boxes(if needed), photographed and put up on the local Yahoo Tag Sale site the other day.
14 assorted dolls and 6 boxed outfits for 1 of the dolls.
This is the last of the dolls that had belonged to my mother.
And I am feeling sad.

Sad, not because they remind me of my mother and she has been gone now 11 years.
Sad because of what they represent......all that wasted money and the opportunity to use that cash for a better purpose.

You see, my mother never actually enjoyed these dolls.
At some point after her divorce from my rat bastard father(don't judge me), after she had been getting her alimony for awhile and felt financially secure(though she really wasn't), she began to buy these dolls.

Basically I can see now why she was spending all this money on something she stuck in the dark recesses of her closet as soon as she bought it.
She was buying her childhood....or rather, the childhood she wish she had had.

My mother was an only child, born in the midst of the Great Depression.  Her early years were spent growing up in the hills of Virginia(think "The Waltons").  Her parents were young and seeing as her father didn't work much due to the double whammy of no jobs and he drank, they had nothing.  Though they lived in the midst of a very large family in the immediate area with some wealth and influence, this little family unit was dirt poor.  They lived without electricity, running water, flush toilets in a log cabin that I suspect my Grandfather had built.
Not a Log Home, a one roomed log cabin on a little patch of land my Grandmother's parents had given her.

Eventually they moved away from the hills down to the coast and the big city, where there were economic opportunities.  This little family went on to prosper but my mother's early childhood, while filled with a large loving extended family, was void of "things".

So when she felt she had money to "play around with", she started buying the things of her childhood days that she was deprived of in her youth.  A few times, when she would show me or talk about something she bought, she'd tell me it was an "investment", because these were collectibles, limited edition or special items.   I am sure I was rolling my eyes at her in

No one knew the extent of this "rebuying your childhood" spending until after she passed away.
That's when my brother went into her closet and found the hoard of dolls.
Barbie Holiday dolls, replica dolls, Danbury Mint dolls, porcelain dolls.
Her three most favorites to buy were Shirley Temple dolls, Gibson Girl dolls and Christmas Barbie dolls.
I can see why she collected these three types.....
*Shirley was a BIG star as a kid and the same age as my mom.
*Gibson girls were from a more romantic era(mom was a romantic at heart) and represented her mother's generation
*My mother was a HUGE FAN of Christmas.

And she left every blessed single doll to my Daughter, her only Granddaughter.
My tomboy daughter, who stripped nekkid her 1st Barbie doll and left in a corner so she could put the outfit on her miniature stuffed  Daughter was never a fan of dolls.  She didn't want them, I didn't buy them.

So my mother never actually gave Daughter any of these dolls, when mom was alive and my daughter was young and could enjoy them.
Mother also never displayed or enjoyed her dolls in her own home.

About 10 years ago, after my mother passed and her estate was cleared, I was given possession of all these dolls.  This was not even a year after we moved to this house.  Between the day-to-day of raising 3 kids, settling into this home and dealing with my own depression and shopaholic tendencies, I was overwhelmed.

As there were so many taking over the house and our lives, I decided to sell them a few years after bringing them to PA....or at least the ones I could find at that point.

I was able to sell off via eBay about half of the number we had.  That was 6 or so years ago when going prices were higher on the auction market.  I tucked that money away for Daughter's college fund.
Let's just say, even in a better economic climate, I recouped pennies to the dollar of what my mother spent to purchase these dolls at retail.

About half of these dolls got packed away and mixed in with my own hoard of stuff and I didn't see them again until recently, a decade later
Now that I've uncovered the rest of the dolls, I am hesitant to put them on eBay.  After the fees and the hassle of packing and shipping these things, it is not worth my time for the tiny bit of money they would bring.
Daughter still has no use for them as a 19 year old.  We are planning on moving in 7 years and we don't have room to cart them around until she is on her own and out of the house for good, when she could do with them what she wants.  I suspect at that time, she'd either put a sign that read "FREE" and put them on the curb or use them to build an awesome bonfire. ;-)

So I have made the executive decision and put them on the local selling site and am hoping I can sell at least half of these.  The ones I can't unload I'll have to cart off to Salvation Army and at least get a little tax write-off.

I pulled out the paperwork I have that's associated with these dolls.  Yes, my mother took photos and kept everything for insurance
I got exceedingly sad seeing in black and white on those invoices, all the money she spent on this crap.

All that money that, if she had just stuck into a savings bond or a bank account, could have paid for 4 years of tuition at a good school for her darling Granddaughter.
Wasted on a U-haul truck load of worthless dolls that nobody got to enjoy.

So I am doing the best I can with this situation and trying to turn it into a blessing.....when I'm not looking upward and asking my mom, "What the HELL were you thinking!?!?". ;-)
Maybe I'll feel better when the dolls are out of my life, since they represent waste and sadness to me.

Just take my advice.....If a doll is refered to as a "collector's edition" or a collectible investment, please do yourself a favor and RUN, don't walk! away from it as fast as you can! 8-(



  1. I am so sorry that your mom never enjoyed them. My mom has bought both girls a "collector" barbie each year since they were born. BUT every year they open them and play with them even now(at 19 and 16). Its so funny to watch them playing with them and pulling out the old ones, but my mom only bought those ones because they were prettier then the regular barbies she says. Of course she plays with them with the girls to.

    I hope someone buys them and gives them to there kids to play with, I never understood the theory of collecting something to just look at and not enjoy.


  2. Oh honey, I am so sorry. This is just sad, sad, sad. My own mother collects many things. It is going to be the most difficult job of my life to sort it all out when the time comes. It's like she is trying to fill up some emptiness inside with all this "stuff". I am dreading it.

    In the meantime, my kids are under strict instructions that if she ever offers them anything in the house, whether they want it or not, they have to take it. That's just one less thing I will have to deal with later.

    I have started gifting her with things like gift certificates to her favorite theater or restaurant, things that are experiences rather than things that clutter.

  3. I don't feel sad for your mother's wasted money.I feel happy that in some way she was able to assuage the feelings of deprivation. Even though she never looked at them, she was medicating a wound of her childhood. She could have been drinking or have some other vice instead of buying dolls. Okay, maybe she

    This was harmless unless you had to pay her bills. You are the one who is suffering the burden of them. Let it be a work of love and frugality to unload the dammed dolls that plague you and remember she enjoyed her purchases.

    My father controlled unmercifully every penny that came into the house. My mother could not indulge one whim because she had to buy panties and socks for us, make our clothing and make a childhood for us that was at least not one of deprivation.

    When she started getting social security, she went to yard sales and had the walls covered with plaques, pictures, anything that was meant to hang. It looked like she was out of control, but she was so happy with all she was able to buy that I never had the heart to suggest she stop. Thankfully, she lived two happy, peaceful years after daddy died.

    Tables and floors were covered with things she bought. It was really a happy sight to me, because he could not control her money, even though he wanted to do so. Then, when he died, she got even more money. I was happy for her.

    She bought some junk, but she had an eye for the worthwhile old antiques. Believe me, I was not afraid to oppose my mother's ideas. But, I knew why she did this and overlooked her "habit."

    Try to be happy for your mother's choice of medication. But, I am sorry it is such a chore now. Hire someone to get a better price than you will. My friend could do that and make money based on price she got. Doll collectors rather than the locals will pay more. The Shirley Temple is exquisite.

    When I made and sold Cabbage Patch clothes, some children's parents and Santa bought CP dolls that went into the top of a closet as and investment. That made me sad. But, it is done as far as your mother goes. Smile at how she smiled and felt inside when she got her childhood so late.

  4. Gosh, this is very sad. My Mom buys these for Claire too and they just get added to the pile. They're pretty and all but still, what's their point?
    And even worse, my Mom was in the Beenie Baby in the 90s. She spent thousands of that crap. Now she hands them out to my children to play with and they eventually get torn or ruined or whatever. It's all such a waste.

  5. Anna has a few of the barbie dolls. I'm not sure how I gave birth to a girly girl but I did.
    I'm sorry about your mother on so many levels. And I'm sorry that you have to deal with this. But you are on a roll and I know that you will get rid of everything.

  6. Judy--I hope some one can enjoy these dolls too.
    I just wish my mom would have spent this money on things that would have made her life easier when she was alive. ;-)

    LisaPie--I'll pray for you when the time comes for you to dig out your mom's hoard. Been there, done that twice now and it's not fun.
    When my brother got sick and I went down to nurse him, he was so ill he let go of some of his hoard but only if I asked him if I could have something and bring it home to PA. Once it got here, it went in the garbage or to charity. If he had known I had nefarious plans for his hoard, he would NOT have let me have

    PracticalP--Yah, I realize what she was doing and it was her money so not me to tell her how to spend it. But for every hoarder who dies there is a family having to cope with all that stuff. I realized I was heading down that road to leaving a hoard. But the thought that I'd devastate the family I left behind was enough to get me to change. It's been difficult emotionally and has taken years and I still have a lot of work to do on myself.

    Mark--Don't get me started about beanie babies!lol At least my mother didn't pile those up too. Though I have quite a few from my beanie trading days I need to unload. Can I put you down to take a couple of boxes?lol

    SonyaAnn--We all have our family stuff to bear, don't we? I actually got so upset this weekend that I sat down and just cried over this. Silly...but I guess I am still mourning and it hits me now and then.

  7. Hoarder? Yes, but have you found any dead cats or rotting food? LOL...that was the first thing that came to mind. Thank your mother for not hoarding cats! I would just have to pay someone to clean up that kind of hoarding.

    If you donate these to specific children you see and know or get to know, maybe you can get some good feelings from these dolls. I would not donate to any Christmas toy drive because little girls would never see these. I am all for your making money, but the personal donation would make your heart a little lighter.

    Even though I did not collect Beanie Babies, I have about two dozen since back then I was going to school and would get a Happy Meal from McD.I even give them to my grandchildren and still have at least two dozen. Ever so often I find two hiding here or there.


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