The Toy Trap

I’m not going to fall into the trap this year. I won’t. I swear.

I grew up in a family with five children. Every year our parents would buy toy after toy, and we’d walk downstairs on Hanukkah to find the floor literally covered with presents. It was great fun, and we’d be filled with excitement as we tore off the wrappings and reveled in our good fortune. We’d walk around with our favorites in hand, and go to sleep late because we just couldn’t bear to stop playing with our Crissy dolls, or our Perfume Making Kits (one of my favorite toys!), or our Easy Bake Ovens.

Within two weeks, though, we’d be complaining that we were bored and had nothing to play with. You could literally see the steam coming out of my Dad’s ears. My Dad still talks about the train set that he thought would make our year, that we abandoned completely after the first day.

I most remember the organ. The poor, lonely organ that was Never Touched By Children’s Hands. My poor, misguided Dad.

Every year there seems to be some “it” toy – something the kids must have and that parents go to extraordinary measures to find before Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus. I remember very well the Cabbage Patch Kids craze of 1984. I was working at Richway (similar to Target), and people would line up the night before if they even suspected we were getting a shipment. There was pushing and shoving and actual fistfights, for goodness sake. Before I had kids I would roll my eyes and laugh at these idiots people. “I’ll never do that,” I smugly thought.

Then I became a parent, and that changed everything. My heart wants the floor covered with presents, just to see my son’s face as he opens each one. His smile makes my life. Our budget won’t allow for that kind of spending, our small home won’t allow that kind of clutter, and I honestly don’t think he needs lots of toys.

So, I sure have my head on straight, right?

Well. Last year’s “it” toy was Tickle Me Elmo TMX. He came in a little cardboard suitcase, and people would pay up to double the normal cost to find one at TRU, on Ebay, or Craigslist, on a street corner. I happened to come across one quite easily, and paid the normal price of $39.95, and how I wish I hadn’t. My son played with it exactly once. I knew he wouldn’t play with it, too, as he’s not interested in stuffed toys at all. There was no pressure from him or anywhere else to get one – my son is happier with a 99 cent Hot Wheels car than most middle-aged men are with their Porsches.

I thought it was cute. I got caught up in the excitement. I completely wasted $40. Who’s the idiot now?

I’m not going to fall into the trap this year. I won’t. I swear.

We open most of our gifts on Christmas Day around our Christmas Tree (my husband is Catholic, and I’ve enjoyed a tree for many years). My son’s gifts have been purchased, all 4 of them (plus small gifts like a car or workbook or pencil for each night of Hanukkah). And we’re under budget. They’re all things I know he’ll play with (well, I’m hopeful about the workbooks). I did good.

Then I spent Thanksgiving with my family. We did some shopping, and I found out that this year my nephews and nieces are completely smitten with Webkinz. They’re cute. They’re cuddly. They come with a secret code that gains you entry into a really very cool website where kids can play games and keep track of caring for their “pet” and many other ubercool activities. They can be found as inexpensively as 2 for $20 at our local flea market. Don’t forget the Webkinz clothing, though, or the little charms that let you into other areas of the website, and before you know it you spend $50 on a $10 toy, and your kid won’t let you near your computer…

I’m not going to fall into the trap this year. I won’t. I swear.

But the reindeer Webkinz is really cute.



5 Responses to “The Toy Trap”

  1. remodelingthislife Says:

    I still have my cabbage patch doll from 1984 🙂

  2. scienceesl Says:

    My girls still play with my cabbage patch kid. But I had to earn the money myself to get one, because at the time my dad was out of a job. I think having to earn the money myself made it that much more special for me.

  3. meonlybetter Says:

    As one who is presently profiting from this Webkinz craze – I say go for it. As a fellow mom of a preschool age kid – I can tell you … forget the Webkinz. Age 7 seems to be about the right age. Unless of course YOU really want to have a virtual pet and just want to pretend it’s your sons. 🙂
    If you think the Reindeer are cute, wait till you see the penguin.

  4. BeThisWay Says:

    My secret is out.

    The penguin, huh?

    Please, just shoot me now.

  5. Perhaps Jewish girls shouldn’t have Christmas trees « Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest of The Time I Know You? Says:

    […] I did. I had to break my promise not to purchase any more Christmas stuff this year. I bought a very plain, regular stand. No muss, no […]

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