Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Up to My Neck in Toys and Hypocrisy

Every week I have all of these ideas of what I want to write about...then they all disappear when I sit down on Monday/Tuesday/whenever-I-get-around-to-it-day.  But, fortunately (we'll see about that) I have this little idea that always floats around in my head that I smack down weekly and think no one wants to listen to me rant about that.  Oh, well, f-it.  Here goes.

During the holiday season I noted something in pictures of my friends, in television commercials, in my own home.  It's excess.  What?  Did she mean to type something else?  Nope.

When I was growing up and Christmas time rolled around I did what every other kid did.  I hoped and prayed that I would get that toy or thing.  I would sit on that sweaty, creepy Santa-look-alike and ask him to please relay my message to the real Santa.  I may have been young, but I knew Joplin, Mo was not the North Pole so clearly, this was not Santa.  Then my mother destroyed Christmas in one fell swoop when she left our BRIGHT BLUE toboggan sitting in the back of her closet with the door open then claimed it was from Santa on Christmas morning.  Okay, so Christmas wasn't dead but Santa was...Okay, so Santa wasn't dead but I'm going on a guilt trip here people.

Seriously, I never felt cheated on Christmas morning if I only had a few gifts under the tree and one very full stocking.

Sidebar:  My mother is the queen of stuffing stockings.  If there is a deck of cards with cats on it to be had, a reindeer hand towel to be rolled up and crammed in, a hot chocolate flavored lip balm to be dug out of the bottom of a stocking, my mom will find it...probably in July when no one else is even looking for stocking stuffers.  Props to my mom for getting me more useless, thoughtful, fun crap than anyone could ever want.

Back to Christmas morning.  My childhood Christmas looks nothing like the Christmases I see now.  The amount of toys, clothes, gifts of any sort that are given now makes me think that the economy must be taking a turn for the better.  It's ridiculous.  Remember that I am including myself in this category.  I'm by no means standing on some soap box or pontificating from my high horse here.  I'm just observing, okay it's observation with a bit of snark.

Kids get so much stuff these days.  I sit here in my living room surrounded by no fewer than four Little People homesteads, several vehicles of varying size, and more books, toys and puzzles than one little girl and one angry baby could ever play with and we probably have half of what most people have.  (I'm basing this on what I see on Book-your-face.) 

I feel like we weren't raised to put so much value on things.  I know I wasn't.  But I get sucked in.  I walk down the aisles of Toys-r-Us and say, "Claire doesn't have the Little People airplane.  I bet she'd love it.  We've been on an airplane so clearly she needs this.  If I don't get this for her she will be scarred and it will surely be the subject of some rant-y blog that she'll be writing in 30 years."  Then I stop talking to myself because people are looking at me.  I pretend I'm talking to the baby, which doesn't make them think I'm any less crazy than they did before.

Now, I have no problem with having many, many books.  We love reading, we love books.  I'd rather have books than anything else.  I plan to donate these books and these toys when the girls are done with them...if there's anything left of them.

That's my sincere hope for all of the excess that I see around me:  I hope that everyone donates toys and clothes as their children grow out of them.

Here's a confession I'm not scared to make:  I buy used.  Oh yes, I buy whatever I can for the girls from the resale shop.  Why?  Because I like to save money and because I try my best to do my part for the environment and this is recycling in its easiest form.  I figure I have to do something since my husband would like to leave every.single.light. in the world on at all times.  Sometimes when I tell people this they look all shocked like such nice things can't possibly be used.  Honestly, how many times can your child possibly wear a Christmas dress?  Some confounded outfit that only looks good in a Vogue-esque photo shoot?  Someday our children will be very angry that we put such large bows on their heads.  Hey, my girls wear bows.  My rule of thumb though is if the bow is actually bigger than the baby's head, it's not going on my child.  I want to look at the baby, not the bow. (No offense bow-makers, your bows are works of art, but so is the Mona Lisa and I'm not putting that on my baby either.)

Anyway, I made a resolution at the beginning of this year.  It's not really a New Year's resolution because that implies it's just for 2012.  This is a lifetime resolution.  I'm going to try to keep myself in check.  Claire and Zora don't need everything their little hearts desire.  I want them to know what it is like to want something and have to wait for it.  I want them to also know how to deal with disappointment.  We are raising a group of kids who have been told everyone wins, everyone is great, and "yes" over and over again.  This is not the real world.  They will not always win.  They will be told "no."  There will be people who are better than them at lots of things.  I want them to be able to deal with the bad so that the good is appreciated just that much more.

Television, television, right...hmmm...oh, sorry, I was distracted by Tabatha Takes Over on Bravo.  We're still on a bit of TV here and there.  Claire has become quite the tattletale though.  She says, "Nina night-night.  La la la lullaby."  Sprout has a show on at night called The Goodnight Show.  Its hosts are Nina, a real person, and Star, a puppet star.  They sing a song that goes "La-la-lullaby, la-la-lullaby..."  Yeah, we never let her watch TV, that's why she knows the host's names and their theme songs.  Busted.  She's such a narc. 

Again, I would like to reiterate that Sprout is better than most of the "children's" programming out there.  Over the weekend my dad was trying to find something Sprout-esque for Claire to watch at their house.  He ran across a cartoon and thought, this works.  The acid trip the writers and artists of this show must have been on caused me to have flashbacks just from watching.  The characters consisted of several monsters.  One looked like a naked, muscle-y abdomen with legs and arms wearing a belt.  I couldn't tell you what the others looked like because of the distracting nakedness of the one monster.  Yeck, now I need a shower, this show was that gross.  We quickly changed it when we both realized that this was real life.  Claire wasn't interested anyway.  There was a cat to smack, I mean pet.


  1. Amen! I obviously I don't have kids yet but I am seriously appalled at how much most kids have these days. I think it really does a lot of kids a disservice to think that they will always get anything and everything. I remember as a kid getting clothes for Christmas (sans toys) and being thrilled...well, maybe not thrilled, but glad to have new clothes. Kudos for you for shopping resale. I think it's awesome!

  2. Thanks, Amy. We got exciting things like winter coats for Christmas and I'm sure we got underwear. I never thought I was missing out on anything.

  3. I loved your statement about wanting your girls to want something and have to wait for it. I totally agree!! So many kids/people now just get what they want the instant it comes to their mind. They never truly know what it's like to want!

    And, I looove shopping resale!! Best money saving idea ever!!!

  4. Agree! We decided very early that the boys would only get four things on Christmas, and each gift has to follow a theme: something you want, something you need, something for fun, and something for learning. My stance is that the tradition will mean more than the gifts. Right? Someone tell me that this is so...

  5. I came across this blog post, shared on the FB before Christmas. Though the writer is quite a bit more religious than I am, it struck me. The theme of excess is definitely something that impossible to ignore at this time of year, and (not to make anyone mad, or make too many assumptions) further, I find myself questioning what I am actually celebrating if I am "not that religious". (that is just me - to each his own I always say! :)) Anyways, you may find it interesting reading as well. http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/11/29/the-christmas-conundrum