26 December 2013

What You Never Got For Christmas

Another Christmas has passed, and so in retrospect, I wanted to leave you with my thoughts on gift giving and the meaning of Christmas, at least for me. I've always tried to give gifts I felt challenged my kids and at the same time, kept them interacting with their environments.

When I was a kid, I wanted a microscope. Not the toy ones where you can magnify things up to 5 times. I wanted the one where you can see the bacteria in your spit or the actual construct of a booger. Call me gross, but I had the mind of a future genius. All gone to waste because I didn't get the things I so desperately desired, aside from the Casper mask and other favorite toys. So I’m over-dramatizing.

Anything which inspired me was a no go. No Play Doh for Diane! 

No, she cannot have that paint set, that goop factory, or that chemistry lab. Instead, she can have this Barbie doll and the doll whose hair you pull from a hole at the top of its head to make the strands "grow" or at least appear to.

"Look!" My mom would say. "Her hair grew!" 

No, it didn't. You pulled it out from inside her head.

Push the button on her belly or turn the knob on her back, and miraculously the hair disappears into the void from whence it came. I once tried to cut open my doll to see how that worked, but my mom caught me. I recall that horrified look on her face and the several days of concern and careful observation, until she came to realize I wasn't turning into a psychopath.

No matter how messed up and tangled my Barbie's hair ever got, my parents would buy another one the next Christmas, or for my birthday. Wasn't it obvious I didn't care about my dolls? Seriously.

They always ended up at the bottom of the toy box, headless and missing one or more appendages. I didn't do it on purpose. They just got stuck between other toys and when yanked out from underneath, while looking for something more important, this was the resulting evolution of the doll. Not all girls play with Barbie.

I imagine where my life would be today had I gotten the microscope. Instead, I got the Spirograph. Remember that beast? I could never get the pens to fit nicely into most of the holes. And in order to make any of the really cool shapes, you'd spend hours spinning the gear, keeping it from jumping track. All the while, your pen bends profusely just before it snaps in half.

Maybe I've just grown bitter that I didn't get all those other things I so wanted when I was a kid. I could get them for myself today, but I'm too old and not as curious as when I was a kid. Keep those minds fed and those passions of your children aflame. 

If your kids make out a list to Santa which contains a questionable item, be sure it's not an absolute NO before you have a moment to reflect. Why does your child want that particular thing and why is it not something you would consider?

It was too expensive 
(the microscope)

It was too messy 
(the finger-paints)

It was too dangerous 
(the pump BB gun)

It was too risque
(the albino rat snake as a pet -  in Japan, those things were protected by law)

Is there anything you ever wanted for Christmas (or any other occasion) that you never got?

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