While I’m a big fan of the holidays and even tune in radio stations that play Christmas music while I’m driving without the kids in the car, I’m not so much a fan of the overwhelming level of consumerism that is not only pushed by retailers everywhere, but presented almost as a national imperative, our individual contributions to the well-being of stores near and far.
Don’t you get that same feeling when you read about “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” and all these other arbitrary labels for days where we’re supposed to be buying lots of stuff and helping the economy both locally and nationally? When did it become a patriotic act to go shopping? Definitely an “only in America” situation!
It’s even harder with children in the house. Even trying to minimize their exposure to media and advertising (and have I mentioned before how much I loath National Geographic Kids because of its absolutely awful advertising policy, which seems to prefer the worst possible ads? Well, if not, I will just share that we’ve been trying to cancel the gift subscription we received for months now).
It’s hard not to be a bit of a curmudgeon this time of year, even though I like the general spirit, the snow, the decorations and the lights. I mean, why do the kids toys have to be so daft and so incredibly likely to be forgotten and broken within a month or two?
Or, worse, as can be seen in the surprisingly vitriolic debate about the new Amanda doll, people buy expensive electronic gizmos, reinforcing to toy companies that it’s the right direction for future development, just to let their batteries die, leaving the kids to play with a doll that’s actually less fun than a cheaper, battery-free doll that they could have purchased in the first place? Doesn’t make any sense to me. But then again, we do our very best to avoid anything with batteries.
(which is why I remain baffled that there’s not a Brio-compatible train engine that’s wind-up or otherwise self-propelled but without a battery involved? In fact, if you’re a toy inventor, a radio controlled Brio / Thomas the Tank Engine set compatible with existing Brio trains and track, would be one heck of a cool toy. We probably wouldn’t buy it, but heck, if it had rechargeable batteries and otherwise plugged into the wall at least it wouldn’t beget the terrible amount of waste that regular battery toys generate!)
Alright, I know, I’m just ranting here.
It’s just been a very interesting time in our house as we had to empty every room to replace our carpet with bamboo floors, meaning that we’ve also had a chance to go through all the toys that the kids have been accumulating over the last few years. And boy, do they have a lot!
It’s amazing, actually. I don’t particularly remember having an austere childhood, but I sure don’t remember having toychests overflowing with toys that I’d forgotten about.
The real harbinger: when a friend asked our daughter A- what she wanted from Santa she said “I don’t know. I think I have everything I want.”
I’d like to think that came from her being happy with the toys and dolls that she has, but I somehow, perhaps cynically, think that it’s more a reflection of the abundance of toys in our house than anything else.
So, please, let’s all try to take it a bit easy this year with holiday presents and try to keep in mind that what makes this time of year so fun is the time we get to spend with our friends and family, not the time we get to spend at the malls!