Melissa ShangWhen my family was growing up a decade or so ago, American Girl dolls were big. The girls loved reading the books that told the story of a doll that represented a specific historical era. Mostly, though, they lusted after all the very expensive clothing, accessories and furniture displayed in the slick catalog.

One year, Santa thought it would be very cool to put an American Girl doll wheelchair under the Christmas tree. But the girls were far less impressed with it than I was — and today it sits high on a shelf in its original box with nary a dent on its frame nor gash