There’s never been more emphasis on buying local and supporting small business as this Christmas, for obvious reasons. I’ve tried to do my part and found it a rewarding experience that I’ll repeat in coming years. It’s good for our community, the economy and for us customers too, since these folks produce and carry quality, unique items.
That goes for toys too, as I’m sure Santa would agree. Back in the day, when my brother and I were kids, giving gifts to children was easier. There were no wildly expensive electronics for sale, no video games or sophisticated technology. No one seemed particularly worried about our cognitive ability either, and whether or not we might benefit from “educational” toys.
Nope, we were given free rein to create and explore without being told how to do it or given elaborate tools to accomplish it. Our fertile imaginations knew no bounds. I mean, sure we had our share of toys, some of them even required batteries, but they became part of the games we thought up, they didn’t dictate them.
For instance, one year I was given a large plastic doll. Her legs and arms moved, with effort and a loud clicking noise, but she wasn’t soft and cuddly, and she didn’t talk, eat, light up or smell like a vanilla latte. Yet, she and I went on some grand adventures together. Granted, one day I came home from school to find her hanging by her neck from the doorway to my room, but those were the hazards when you had a little brother.
Another Christmas, my brother Bill and I each scored a Crazy Carpet; a thick sheet of pliable plastic for sledding. Remember those? Talk about a simple toy. We rushed straight out to a hill near our home where, due to a snow deficiency, and a distinct lack of foresight, I slid over a big rock and cracked my tailbone. Good times.
Recently, I overheard two young boys discussing Santa and the whole gift situation. It was an easy conversation to hear for two reasons. Boys of this size have little to no concept of what’s commonly known as an, “inside voice”, and current social distancing restrictions make yelling at people quite acceptable.
“Have you been good this year?” one hollered, his eyes flicking back and forth as though expecting that pesky, Elf on a Shelf guy, to lunge from behind the swing set and take notes. “I haven’t. Now I’m worried Santa won’t come.”
“Listen,” shouted his friend with a conspiratorial air, “I learned something you should know.” He leaned closer and cupped a hand beside his mouth to ensure the message came through loud and clear.
“I was bad all last year – I mean really, really BAD, and it didn’t make any difference at all. I got lots of presents, just like always, so I’m not bothering with being good any more. You shouldn’t either.”
Proof like that is hard to discredit. Yet, as far as gifts go, we can all be good if we keep them a little simpler and shop close to home; from businesses where our dollar is appreciated and needed.