The dollhouse


When I was 5 years old, my grandpa built me a dollhouse. Even as a little girl, I remember being amazed at the intricate bricks that formed the two-story-high walls and the individual shingles that topped the roof. The front side had a tiny front door which, if you pulled on the tiny handle, opened on tiny hinges. A staircase with a delicate railing connected the two floors, and each of the 5 rooms was painted a different color. I arranged the house with little furniture handmade by my grandpa, and filled it with anthropomorphic animal figurines called Sylvanian Families.

It’s impossible to count how many hours I spent playing with this dollhouse. It’s one of the main icons of my childhood.

But as the years went on, I became less and less interested in make believe. As is the case with many little girls, my focus turned first to horses, and then to boys – and before I knew it, I was off to college. I always hoped that one day, I would give the dollhouse to my own kids – but until then it sat untouched, usually under a sheet in one basement or another.

In the 13 years since I graduated high school, I’ve moved 18 times. This Saturday, I will move a 19th – this time to a place with very limited storage. This has made me reevaluate just about everything I own, and it’s led to the realization that it doesn’t make sense for me to hold onto the dollhouse. I can’t keep moving it from place to place and finding a spot to keep it, only to let it gather dust – so tonight, I decided to give it to some dear friends who have daughters.

Despite my hope to give it to children of my own one day, it was time to let it go – because it’s okay if there’s a gap between the life you thought you’d be living and the life that you actually have.

And when you find the courage to release your grip on the thing you thought was so important, you might just find that the bitter is overpowered by the sweet.



  1. shannon on April 25, 2013 at 7:14 AM

    oh annie, i love this, so much.

    “And when you find the courage to release your grip on the thing you thought was so important, you might just find that the bitter is overpowered by the sweet.”

    gah, so good.

  2. bethany tab on April 25, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    my disjointed thoughts on this: I’m sorry you had to let this go. I feel the ouch. You did the right thing. Your grandpa’s handiwork gets to be celebrated again. Make believe magic is probably happening in that house right now. I’m sorry again. Being a grown-up is the worst sometimes.

  3. tarrah on April 25, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    the “gap” line is my favorite. beautiful!

  4. Emily Croston on April 25, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    I always wanted a dollhouse like yours, but I never got one. Sorry you had to give yours up! :(

  5. Debbie Barnett on April 25, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Sometimes it doesn’t matter who “begat”the next generation… as long as someone is passing something onto them… traditions can be adopted… just like children. :)

  6. Sarah Kate on April 28, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    My Sylvanian families are in Ava’s closet. Perfectly preserved (Grandpa’s glasses and all) and ready for her to play. Of COURSE you had them, too. We are kindred spirits in that way. I, however, didn’t have the ultra cool handmade doll house to go with. I had the house from Sylvania but would have preferred the other. I’m glad yours is seeing new life.

  7. Ashwin on April 28, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    Annie, I must admit, I had not read your blog in quite some time. It was only your email about buying your first home that motivated me to wander over here.

    This post reminded me how talented, intelligent and funny you are. My friend Annie is a living legend.

  8. Ginger on April 29, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Lovely and brave.

  9. hootenannie » Blog Archive » Shotgun on April 29, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    […] The dollhouse […]

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