Ah the holiday season is upon us and besides the general dread and seemingly endless debates on whose house we’re going to for what holiday and on what day, I find myself expending most of my mental energy on deciding what gifts to purchase for people.
I won’t punish you with the details of the impossible task of picking out something for my mother, the woman who has the contents of a small shopping mall in her home. Instead I’ll try to capture something of the great toy debate. And keep in mind that it’s compounded by the fact that Aaron’s birthday is right after Thanksgiving and Gwen’s is at the beginning of December so I have birthday and Christmas gift giving to ponder.
I love my children very much and a sad consequence of having a mother with the contents of a shopping mall crammed into her house is that I’ve been taught to express love through gifts. Shopping and “new stuff” equaled happiness in my childhood home (there’s no blame there – my mother is fabulous and in the grand scheme of things she could have passed down a much worse legacy – like alcoholism or something even more dreaded like Catholicism).
Anyway, I find that most of my time is spent on trying to decide whether or not to purchase the Diego Safari Playset or the Hot Wheels speed and crash racetrack, or perhaps wouldn’t it be great if we got both for him – he’s a good kid he deserves it – and we did just refinance the house and all . . . You see what I mean here. Then at some point I stop and think that this is the kid who uses a green plastic dealer’s visor from a Texas hold’em set as a firefighter’s gas mask, and can envision the couch cushion as a mountain, a boat, a slide, a race car, and a monster truck. Does he really need the $34 Diego Safari set or wouldn’t he be just as content with a $2 Diego figurine and some cheap elephants from the dollar store? Is he going to need therapy at some point in time because he didn’t receive the officially licensed Pixar Cars set of Shake and Go racers?
Of course not, and yet I want to get these things for him – why? Shouldn’t we curb the spending and set aside some money for his future – perhaps for his college education? Sure that’s what we probably should do but we’re not going to. Why? Because of the look. You know what I mean. That look a kid gets when he gets a toy that he’s really excited about. The wide eyes, the eager hands grasping at it, the voice that shoots up an octave when he says “WOW”. We all remember that feeling from when we were kids and we just want to recreate that for our kids. Is that so bad? And is it so bad that somewhere in my psyche, seeing that look on his face is proof that he knows that I love him with all of my heart and soul? Is he going to have that same look when he’s 19 and I tell him I’ve saved up enough to pay for a semester of his college education? I don’t think so.
So, the moral of the story is that I’m going to try and find a happy medium between my “proving the depth of my love by the amount of gifts I give you” tendencies, and the cheapskate part of me who is convinced he’d be thrilled with 5 things from the Dollar Store.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have to check on the shipping status of some action figures we've purchased for the 38 inch Rescue Heroes Mountain Command Center with Voice Tech capability.