In our supermarket last week I noticed the usual single aisle of toys had been expanded. It hadn’t just doubled or tripled. There were fully eight aisles of dolls, stuffed animals, guns, rockets, board games, sporting equipment, and more. When I complained to my husband how commercial Christmas has become, I realized it’s nothing new. Here’s a clip from the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street:
Once I’d finished my rant about materialism, I began to think about Christmas gifts I received as a child. A baby doll that drank and wet made me feel like a little mommy. A floppy cloth one I named Judy, with elastic straps on her feet, gave me permission to “dance” without feeling foolish, since I had a partner, however silent. Probably the most special of all was a collectible Shirley Temple doll. Mine had a white dress with red polka dots. I drove my mother crazy asking her to curl my stick-straight hair to look like my treasure.
As I thought about these presents, something happened. I began to feel like a kid again.
I think we often forget what it feels like to be a child. Sometimes that’s a good thing. We don’t need to relive temper tantrums and teething as grownups. But to take time off from being quite so serious about life and the challenges and problems it can present is a good thing.
That’s why we recently sent a toy as a holiday gift to a friend of ours. He’s had a bad year on many levels, and the immediate future is a bit bleak. We thought he might like to play a little, take out his frustration, and, yes, feel like a kid again. When he received his package and found his Nerf Gun, he was ecstatic, immediately having someone take and e-mail us a half-dozen photos of him with his present. Having fun.
My suggestion for you in the coming year is to turn back the clock a little. Treat yourself. Buy a simple toy you owned as a child, like a ball and jacks. Play Candyland or Monopoly again. Take a break from the anxious adult in you and embody the carefree kid.
Here’s a champagne toast: a happy, healthy, and blessed New Year to all!