“Shouldn’t we spread it out a little? You know open up some of the gifts when they’re first received? You can’t even remember what I gave you for your own birthday last month. How can she get the most out of so many presents?” So states the wife from Dr. John Gray’s Venus.
“She’ll be fine.” So replies the Martian listening with the 5% Dr. Gray gives him credit for in the book Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.
Both boys and girls have the same problem Christmas morning, at the end of the eight days of presents for Hanukah and on their yearly birthday celebration. We parents tend to go a tad overboard giving the gifts we wouldn’t have wanted to miss getting ourselves. What we neglect to do is to multiply that gift-giving feeling out by their own friends, our friends, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
After the boxes have been ripped through, ribbons cast off, greeting cards still pristine in their sealed envelopes and quick thank you’s blurred by the smoke of festive candles you, as the parent, are left with other worries besides the clean up. You wonder if the high dollar toy was worth it, will the clothes fit or need to be exchanged in a line that will stretch past that of Honey Baked Ham’s the day before, how much candy they can possibly consume without becoming ill, who invented the annoying rubber covered twist tie and when, not if, the inevitable meltdown will undoubtedly occur.
It’s only a week later, or in the case of a five-year-old, an hour later that another problem starts to take shape. Which toy will hold their attention until the next gift giving frenzy? Will it be the Bride Barbie even after the dog spits up her veil in a hairball? The Disney Princess doll set that didn’t include the beloved Ariel or Pocahontas? Dare we sneak away the magic-mirror wand that employs the annoyingly high pitched harpy sound or hope that isn’t the favorite one? (Get it before it can be I always say.)
On day two it was the wand. Day three it was the veterinarian kit until we lost all of the parts. Day three it was the scooter the neighbor kids got. Day four it was the Tupperware we took on our nature walk looking under rocks for beetles with the neighbor kids Ben, Brandan and Shawn.
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Why was that the Tupperware hike the best? Simply stated: She was being entertained. Maybe it was because she “played” with that Tupperware cup the longest when climbing up the hill from “the Hidden Valley gate”. I should have figured this out years ago. It ain’t the toy. It’s the fun playing with the other kids.
Another example showing that you never know which gift will be the hit: I gave Sam several previously viewed movies I picked up at our local Video Depot for five bucks each. Old selections like Free Willy I and II and the second Aladdin cartoon. We brought one of the Willys to the gym and there were fourteen kids begging me not to take our tape home when it was down to the last fifteen minutes. That was on December 26, when they all undoubtedly had newer videos at home to watch. (But they couldn’t share them with that many kids in my living room-or yours I suspect!)
The weirdest thing that happened with her toys was when, two weeks ago, she allowed me to clean out her five different toy boxes (including the one in the car). She had agreed to get rid of her “treasures” and make room for new toys. She had no trouble watching me empty box after box. When I was done I had an extra bag of trash to be picked up and she had re-discovered toys she hadn’t seen in months. I could have hit myself for not doing it sooner. She was so busy with last year’s toys she never even shook the presents under the tree this year.
So who knows what it will be tomorrow. The colorforms or the See’s Candy Barbie. The Techno Dog or the dinosaur puzzle books. The Mrs. Potato Head we finally found all of the parts to or my smallest Tupperware containers. Or maybe it will be the stuff Ed gave himself in my stocking: cooking utensils, cookbooks and baking chocolate. Listening with only 5%? I don’t think so. He gave me all of the stuff he had asked for. And Samantha can have it all. She’d probably find more fun things to do playing house with my toys than I ever could. Know what I say? Have at it. As long as it is the gift that lasts. And lasts. And lasts. Better yet? Take it all across the street and bake something with your friends. At their house.