Nellie sighed as she looked at the pile of homework that had to be done on the desk in Samantha’s room. It was Sunday and she had just come home from church. It was cold so she had had to wear long underwear, and wool tights, and she was SO itchy! She hadn’t been able to concentrate on Pastor Stephan’s sermon from being so itchy. Then she had come home only to realize that she had procrastinated on her homework and had to do all of it in one day. It wasn’t something she normally did.
Well at least I can work in comfort, she thought as she shimmied out of her tights and long underwear, and threw them on the floor as though punishing them for making her so miserable. I’ll pick them up when I’m done and hopefully no one will come in and realize I’m only in my Sunday dress.
She had only been working for only 10 minutes when she heard pounding on the stairs. Samantha burst in.
“Nellie! Nellie! You’re going downtown tonight!”
“What? How can that be? Kit was just downtown last weekend, I don’t think Heather would go again the next weekend.”
“Well,” Samantha said importantly, “Heather got invited to an exclusive shopping event at American Girl. There will be a party, and prizes, and everything and you’re going!”
Nellie was still doubtful, “But I thought only people who shop all the time, and spend tons of money, and are at the Berry level in the rewards get to go. Heather’s at the very lowest level in the rewards.”
“I know,” Samantha agreed, “Heather thinks American Girl made a mistake, but she’s thrilled to get to go. Come on! You have to pick out a dress! It’s called a Holiday event, and that usually means Christmas, so I brought some Christmas dresses for you to pick out.”
“Christmas!” Nellie cried, “It’s not even Thanksgiving yet! I can’t wear a Christmas dress.”
“But everyone else will be all dressed up, and Heather doesn’t want to dress up herself so she’s dressing you up in her place.
“Here, look at this one,” Samantha showed her a dress with poinsettias on it, “It’s really pretty but it’s kind of too big for us. It was originally for a big bunny. I guess it wouldn’t be too good for you to wear if you’re going to swing on Lea’s hammock or ride a horse.”
“That’s really nice of you to offer all these dresses of yours, but I’ll just wear my old one. It’s less Christmas-y than the others.”
“I guess you can just wear your old one, but this one is my favorite,” Samantha held up a red lacy one, “It’s homemade and you’d stand out so beautifully in it. You can wear my undergarments to make it flair out too.”
“Thanks, Samantha, but I still think I’ll stick with this one.”
“Well, at least hold mine up,” ordered Samantha.
Nellie did as she was told and Samantha cast a critical eye over her, “I guess you’re right. This one still seems like it would be a little big on you even with the undergarments.
“Okay, go get changed and show me how you look.”
Nellie showed her the dress.
“You do look really pretty in that dress. I think you’ll be a hit, and you’ll have so much fun! Say ‘hi’ to me! Or, maybe say ‘bye to me, because I have this feeling I’m going to be sent to the Archive Prison again.”
“Oh, Samantha! Really? But you only just got out.”
“I know, but there have been rumors going around that they want me to retire. At least I got a second chance. You never even got to come out. Oh, and say good ‘bye to Addy too. I think we might end up going to prison together.”
“Huh, and Addy’s been around for so long. I thought she’d be the special one to stay out of prison forever. Samantha, I don’t know if I should go. I have so much homework to do…”
“Nellie! How can you pass this up? This is probably a once in a life time chance! You have to go! And I don’t think you have a choice anyway, here comes Heather with your coat.”
“This coat is so tight, and it won’t even button,” Nellie said.
“Yeah, but you look beautiful in it, and it’s not all that cold out.”
Samantha kept talking while Nellie was carried out, “Don’t talk to Rebecca and don’t let Heather take another doll home with you…” but Nellie and Heather were already gone before Samantha finished.
Heather sat Nellie on the front seat of the car next to her and off they went. As soon as they got on to the expressway, they got stuck in a traffic jam.
“A traffic jam! On a Sunday night!? I didn’t expect to encounter this. I hope we won’t be late. We have to get there before 6:30 when they announce the sweepstakes winners,” Heather grumbled to Nellie.
But the traffic was really terrible and they finally found out why – a bad car crash. Heather said a prayer for those involved and then they sailed into the city without any other mishaps, but they were running late. Heather parked for free two and half miles away from the store and practically ran the entire way to get there.
“Whew! We made it!” Heather said breathlessly right outside the AG store as she took Nellie out of the travel bag so she could see the windows.
“Oooh, these windows are so pretty! It’s like a white winter wonderland!” Nellie exclaimed.
“Look! They’re sledding down a hill,” Heather pointed.
“Carriage rides! Heather, do you think I could get a carriage ride?”
“I can’t see why not, come on, let’s go in and say ‘hi’ to Samantha.”
Samantha was sleeping when they arrived but Nellie woke her up.
“I just go to bed and now you wake me up. I thought this store is supposed to be closed already. Nellie! It’s so good to see you!”
“We’re at a special shopping event that happens after hours,” Nellie explained, “That’s why there’s a party going on right now.”
“A party! Jeepers! Let me get dressed for it then.”
“There. That’s better. Go on and have some cupcakes, brownies, and lemonade and say ‘hi’ to the other dolls,” Samantha said.
Heather helped herself to fudgey brownies and pink frosted cupcakes while the servers ooh over Nellie.
When Heather’s hands were clean, she gave Nellie a tour of the store.
“I think it’s sad that Kaya really only has three dresses to wear while everyone else gets so many,” Nellie said.
“Yeah, and those three have been around for a while now,” Heather agreed, “I hope she gets something new soon.”
“Nellie, I want to take a picture of you and Maryellen. I’ve always wondered if your hair colors are exact matches.”
“It’s basically the same,” Heather observed, “Maryellen’s is just a touch more red.”
(Without the flash above, with below)
“What’s that singing I hear?” Nellie asked Maryellen.
“That’s the new girl, Melody. She sings all the time.”
“It’s beautiful. Can we go see her?”
“Are you Melody?” Nellie asked.
“Hi, I’m Nellie. You have such a beautiful voice.”
Thanks. I love to sing. I love music. My whole family is involved in music and I’m proud to carry on that same passion.”
“I’m practicing some Christmas hymns just in case I have to sing a solo. Sometimes I’m not so good with memorizing the words to verses so I have to work hard and practice.”
“I can tell you work hard. You’re going to be such a great singer when you grow up, you’ll be a bright shining star… to bright for me to see!” Nellie reached for Melody’s sunglasses, –
I’m going to need shades!” They both laughed.
“I’m supposed to record a song in the studio, do you want to come?” Melody continued.
Nellie stood and listened to Melody sing O Holy Night. When she was done, Nellie burst into applause.
Melody asked, “Do you like to sing?”
“I like to sing some Irish songs my dad taught me.”
“Ooo, I don’t know any Irish songs, can you teach one to me?”
“Sure, this one’s called the ‘Galway Girl’.
Well, I took a stroll on the old long walk
Of a day -I-ay-I-ay
I met a little girl and we stopped to talk
Of a fine soft day -I-ay-I-ay
And I ask you, friend, what’s a fella to do
Cause her hair was black and her eyes were blue
And I knew right then I’d be takin’ a whirl
‘Round the Salthill Prom with a Galway girl
Nellie taught Melody the song and then they sang it together.
“Let’s record it!” Melody said, “If we record it, then I can listen to it and remember it forever.”
“Okay,” said Nellie, “But don’t put me on any record or CD, I’m not that good a singer.”
When they were finished, Nellie suddenly had an idea, “Melody, this year, for Christmas the dolls I live with are planning to put on a bunch of Christmas shows. We were going to do the Messiah. It would be so cool if you were in it!” She turned to Heather, “Heather, don’t you think it would be great if we brought Melody home with us? We don’t have anyone who sings as well as she does, and I bet she can be a great music teacher.”
“Nellie, you’re not supposed to persuade me to get anything, much less a doll! Come away with me before I get more tempted.”
Heather brought Nellie to Addy’s tiny section just in front of Melody’s.
“Oh, Addy I’m so sorry to see you this way. You have almost no display at all. And you’re such an important girl in history with such a great story to tell to little girls,” Nellie sympathized.
“I think my story will still get told,” Addy countered, “and Melody is a great girl, she’ll live up to taking my place.”
“You’re really kind to not hold a grudge against Melody. I just met her a few minutes ago, and she is so nice. Samantha ought to learn a lesson from you. She still won’t even look at Rebecca even after all these years! Just because Rebecca supposedly made her retire. And maybe you will be like Samantha and get to come back out in four or five years.”
“We’ll see,” said Addy.
Nellie had fun chatting with Kit and trying on her accessories, but just then, the announcement came to gather near the TM studio section to find out who will win the drawings.
While they waited for everyone to gather, Nellie posed for a pic with the doll wearing the exclusive Christmas dress.
Heather cast a critical look at the dress, “So far, I’ve loved every single exclusive dress AG has come out with, but this one just falls flat. The material is really thin, even with the two layers, the cloak needs more material and really the dress does too. I think it looks like a snowflake bridal gown like this. If it had more material it would flow better.”
“Hey! This one looks like the exclusive gown from two years ago!”
After the drawing (we didn’t win), Heather and Nellie went up to the TM section. It was completely deserted.
“Are we supposed to be here?” Nellie asked quietly.
“I didn’t see a sign that we couldn’t, but this is creepy. I mean there is no one here,” Heather looked around furtively, “Let’s just get you on a carriage ride and then we’ll head down.”
“This is so fun!” Nellie cried.
After one more quick pic of Nellie against the mini doll tree, they went back downstairs. Nellie was getting more into the Christmas spirit.
“I love Maryellen’s Christmas things. I’m glad I came here. Samantha was right, it was worth it.”
“I’m glad you came too,” Heather said as she packed Nellie back into the travel bag again, “Maybe I’ll get mistakenly invited again next year.”
This time, the walk to the car lasted a lot longer. Heather was sore from running with bad shoes and after one quick stop to look at the Moana Barbie doll at the Disney store they made it to the car.
Nellie smiled, “I can’t wait to tell Samantha and everybody what I did tonight. Maybe I can even teach them some Irish songs. I wish I would have thought to ask Melody to teach me a song she knows.”
“It’s me! I can teach you a song! I can teach you whole bunch of songs!”
Nellie turned to Heather, “You never told me Melody was going to come home with us!! She wasn’t even in my travel bag. How did she get here?”
Heather laughed as she picked Melody up and set her beside Nellie, “I brought two travel bags and I bought Melody on Friday. You just didn’t notice because I had them inside each other when we came here.”
“I think I’m still in shock,” Nellie said, “I can’t believe you’re sitting right next to me.”
“Then let’s start singing! Here’s a favorite song of mine,
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine…”
Nellie joined in and they sang hymns and Christmas songs the whole car ride home.
“You guys should have your own show,” Heather said, “The Nellie and Mellie show.”
The dolls burst out laughing.
“Samantha, I had so much fun at the store! Thank you for pushing me to go. I hope you don’t mind, but I brought a friend home…
Meet Melody Ellison,” Nellie announced when she got back.
“Hi, Melody, welcome to our gigantic world of dolls. I’m sure you’re going to make tons of friends.”
“Nellie said you’re planning on doing the Messiah this Christmas. I’d love to join in.”
“Great! I’m actually the one in charge of that. Maybe we’ll have time to practice but right now, Nellie and I have to buckle down and do our homework.”
Behind the Scenes
Going to AG was really fun. Since I was going alone, I had the whole Nellie/Melody story planned out in my head except I was going to bring Melody out to Nellie in the store rather than in the car, but the store was going to close so I didn’t have time. There must have been at least 6 or 7 girls, moms, or employees who came up to me and squealed over Nellie: “Oh, look it’s Nellie! Can I hold her? Is this her meet dress? She’s so pretty!” etc.
I had not planned to buy Melody so soon. I had decided to wait and see if the GOTY 2017 was really going to be just a #46 with a new outfit like the rumors say. I also wanted to see what Tenny Grant was going to look like and possibly choose her over both of them. But then the deals started. First, AG discounted everything I wanted out of Melody’s collection to $170. That’s basically just a 20% discount so it didn’t tempt me too much. Then the 3 day money savings started which would have brought it down to $150. Now that’s a good deal, and I was even downtown with my Mom and Kit doing the Cubs’ shoot, but I still stood my ground and didn’t get her. Finally, on Friday AG celebrated their 30th anniversary with the bundles again at $150. I just happened to be working right across the street from AG that day so I couldn’t pass it up anymore. Since I had taken the train and was on my bike AG held my packages until I came again on Sunday.
Along with taking Nellie to the AG store, I also wanted to stop in the Lego store and take a pic of the Disney castle but with the traffic jam, the store was already closed.
Who knows. Maybe AG will have an amazing Black Friday or after Christmas sale and will discount the one and only thing I want now: the AG camper, and then I’ll go again with Kanani or Jess to say farewell to Lea. I doubt that will happen, but you never know.