Holiday lessons from a cheap albeit creepy stocking stuffer.

December 25, 2010

A delight on Christmas morning!

On Christmas morning, after pillaging all the gifts under the tree, my girls retreated to the hardwood floors of our kitchen to let loose a set of miniature toy bugs they received in their stockings. The tiny critters operate via a batter-operated chip that vibrates them forward. At less than two inches long, they look (unfortunately) a lot like real roaches and silverfish scuttling across our kitchen floor. At the cash register, they were five or six bucks each. Guess what? My daughters played with them a full hour before even considering their other more elaborate, more technical, more expensive toys.

The lesson never gets old. Alas, it seldom gets remembered either. At least, not when it counts: on Christmas morning. I’m not talking about the true meaning of Christmas -although that’s certainly a fair discussion. I’m talking about the undisputable fact that kids don’t require anything like we think they do in order to be “happy” on Christmas morning.

If we’re lucky enough to have means, we adults inevitably abuse this privilege by assuming our children won’t be delighted unless they get a bazillion presents under the tree. Not only is this not true it’s a mistake that compounds over time. By lavishing our kids with gifts we teach them to be reckless consumers or worse yet to be selfish people. Yet, we don’t care. We want every Christmas to be special, or for that matter every Easter and birthday. While the old saw that they’ll like the “box it came in” better than the toy itself is perhaps naïve, the lesson isn’t: Kids like goofy shit.

Why don’t we ever learn? No doubt We in Adland are culpable. Have we not been preaching rampant consumerism forever? Somehow the American dream of a chicken in every pot has metamorphosed (pun intended) into a Lexus in every driveway. And it starts with our kids doesn’t it?

I’m proud this year that we didn’t go overboard. Yes, because of the recession but also because it wasn’t necessary. This Christmas was every bit as joyful as last years and in January my Visa bill will be oh so much better! I only have one question: how do I keep the children from bringing those crawling bugs to Grandmother’s house later today?


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