Sunday, 24 June 2012

Beware of things going cheep...sorry cheap.

Once upon a time when I had less children, or they were at least quite a bit smaller with far few less toys, I used to love this time of year.  For it signalled the beginning of the toy sale season.

And what fun they were.

My bestie girlfriend, who has at least as many children as I, only slightly younger, would ring the minute the Kmart catalogue arrived in her letterbox.  She lived a few suburbs to the north and always received it.  I was not so lucky and would pack all the toddlers and babies into the car and drive to her house to pore over it's shiny pages.  They were chockas with toys designed to educate, entertain, make really irritating noises, almost always plastic, for all ages.

We were in heaven.

We would highlight, circle, turn down pages.  One of us would field 6 children and the other would face the onslaught of an army of similarly excited parents (mothers) with madness in their eyes.  We'd seek the last Polly Pocket bus, or the amazingly discounted Star Wars Lego X Wing.  We'd ring each other from the shop, should we buy 2? 4? what colours?

Repeat for Target, Big W, perhaps Myer, maybe even DJs.

And we thought we were so clever, saving loads of money, getting all our Christmas shopping done and filling our present drawers.

The reality was so different.  The mission was almost always a failure in the long run, with three usual disaster scenarios.

Disaster 1.  Cunningly hide large toy truck in back of wardrobe ready for nephews birthday in 4 months time.  Birthday comes around, am so used to strangely shaped bag taking up my shoe space I forget it's there. Purchase new present.  Wonder what to do with toy shop special.

Disaster 2.  Christmas present for own child seems perfect in June/July.  In December realise 6 months is a long time when you're 4 and child has grown out of it.  Purchase new present.  Wonder what to do with toy shop special.

Disaster 3. Due to failure to properly plan Christmas presents, end up with far too many for one gender/age group and not enough for the other gender/age group.  End up giving inappropriate gender/age group presents and get looked at strangely by close friend/relatives or alternatively...purchase new presents.  Wonder what to do with toy shop special.

This is not a link, this is a bad dream. 
Confession:  There are still a few disaster presents hidden around the house.  Just two or three.  Still have no idea what to do with them.  Whenever I come across them I have a nasty shudder while remembering the madness of catalogue time.

These days I do most Christmas shopping online.  In late November.  Followed by much angsting as to whether they will arrive in time.  Birthday present shopping is often done at the last minute, sometimes even on the way to the party at the local gift/book shop.

We've also stopped (by mutual agreement) buying Christmas gifts for every single child we know.  At some point the plastic maelstrom became too much, and over the past few years we've asked many people to stop buying for our kids and been asked in turn to stop buying for theirs.  We have appreciated the slowing of the toy wave.  They have so much.  They are so lucky.  They need nothing.

I'm not sure what my lovely friend does these days.  I know she used to love the toy sales as much as me.  But I also know she's over it too.  I know she now lives far from where any Kmart catalogue can be delivered.  And strangely, her kids don't have nearly the amount of plastic crap mine do.

What happened there?