I have only barely begun Christmas shopping and it is stressing me out. To date I have purchased two things. Small things.
I was pondering today how so much of what I am looking for (and can not find at the moment) is electronic. I remember when I was a kid (and dinosaurs roamed the earth) when Monopoly only had cash… colourful paper money (kind of like Canadian currency in that respect I suppose), and Battleship had little peg boats you put on a grid. Now you can get the same games that run on batteries. You can swipe a card in Monopoly, and G*d knows what the Battleship thing does. Or games no longer have dice and little coloured plastic “men” but are handheld beepy things or computerized gizmos.
Remember Toss Across? Oh how I longed for one of those. No beeps. No batteries. Just beanbags. I never got it. And I think I still want one, though I’m not sure why.
And while I was thinking about old toys, I started searching my memory banks for things that I actually recall getting for Christmas when I was little. In no particular order, and definitely not all in the same Christmas, some of the things I remember are:
– Christmas colouring books (my mom would always colour at least one picture with me in my new book)
– A doll outfit, which by incredibly great planning by Santa, was an exact match to a shirt my mother had made for me
– An Etch-A-Sketch, and,
– A Spiro-graph.
(Each toy I would subsequently spend hours and hours with).
I also recall one particular Christmas, not so very long ago, I had no money and the girls and I made everyone on our list Bread Dough ornaments. We made the dough, sculpted our treasures (each one something particularly important to the recipient), and we painted, varnished, and wrapped them together. To this day Rainbow and Dolittle still talk about that project and would love to do it again.
For the most part, I don’t recall the things themselves when it comes to the Christmases of my childhood. But I recall the excitement… the palatable anticipation of the wonders the morning would bring, and the little flashbulb moments of togetherness. I think that is important for me to remember as the holiday draws nearer, and the budget draws tighter. While I realize the unwrapping is part of the anticipation factor, Christmas for my girls is probably only in small part about the exact stuff the extra hours I work might yield. It is just as important to carve out those moments that will endure years from now, when the batteries are dead and the toy is discarded. It will be the ornaments we make, and the cookies we bake, and the traditions we create that will most likely become their Christmas memories.
Of course, on the other hand, I am still bitter about that Toss Across thing.