Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Here they come

The catalogs have started to descend upon us.
Since the first one arrived on Saturday, the boys have fought over it back and forth. Now the second one is here. If you don't count Nova's catalog that comes earlier in the year. I'm sure its the beginning of the flood.
I hear chants of "an' I wan' ______". Or, "Mom, come look at this!" Yes, I already looked at the catalog dear. And no, I don't need to look at every item 15 more times just to verify that it is a wonder of a toy. Yes, I'm sure it would be lots of fun and entertainment. But, in concert with the 15 million toys we already own, and the complete inventory of that catalog that you also want, I sincerely doubt it would ever get touched. Much less remembered.
I have contemplated for weeks now dumping all they toys that get scattered and ignored, or even the ones which reside quietly in the closet upstairs. So quiet in fact I'm not sure the boys remember they own them. What if I just had one very teeny box of toys in the whole house? I imagine they would really and truly play with those toys. Or continue to play with the cushions and blankets and pots and pans and boxes they find lying around. Well, lying around because they played with them this morning and no one picked them up.
I do have a kitchen toy ban. Meaning no toys in the kitchen. I consider it a hazard to have small toys underfoot when I'm carrying hot dishes and knives! And every evening after dinner all the living room toys have to be back in their bins. We do pretty well all things considered. But I wonder what our living room would look like if I could spend that evening time folding the laundry that has taken up permanent residence on the black chair instead of hovering over the toy and kitchen cleanup. And would there be fewer squabbles if the living room and bedroom and stairs and hallway and closets were not littered with toys. One thing I learned in my degree program was that, in setting up an environment for early childhood, less is more. Children get overwhelmed by too many choices. Leaving open space and just a few toy selections leads to children playing more actively and with more focus.
So why can't I just bite the bullet and do it? One big box (or 5) and one big shove out the door. Really, that's it, right? And I know that with Christmas coming, it's not likely people will give the gift of cleaning out the toy stash. I'm guessing it's going to be more of an add-to-it proposition.
In fact, I'm getting ready to make up the boys' wish lists. Because I'm crazy. And I'm their mom. And Christmas is for fun, right?
I am trying to not be too bad though. I am going to ask that they boys receive the minimum number of toys. Yes, it's fun to open lots of packages, but I'd rather they associate Christmas with being with family and feeling that good feeling than think it's all about the loot. That way, too, I can feel good about buying one quality toy that will last rather than lots of cheaper toys that will wind up in a land fill before next Christmas is even considered.
The other thing we plan to do is Christmas for a family. We have done this in years past and it's so much fun! We find out about a family that may need a little extra help this year and gather up a box full of things we think they would enjoy. Our energy of buying and wrapping and doing gets thrown outside of ourselves. We then drop off the box at the house, knock and run. No one ever knows it was us. We never got around to doing it last year. The difference we noticed was pronounced. The years we have done a secret Christmas there has been a lot more joy in giving. Last year there was just a whole lot more "gimme's" and "I didn't get's". It was sad. So, this year, definitely going back to that tradition!
So, if you get less from us this year, know that our resources probably went to a family that needed it. And it went to teaching our children that Christmas is about service and doing and giving to others. We will still have lots of love left for you when we get together. Maybe even more because of the small stack of brightly wrapped gifts. 'K?

1 comment:

Lanna said...

I can relate. I actually banned them from catalogues for a week the other day. Hehe. The Lego one is just too much for Joseph.

My big problem is always the dilemma of Christmas money. They always get so much! A few years ago I just let them spend it and it totally freaked them out Since then I have absorbed it into the Xmas budget and chosen things on behalf of the people who gave the funds. This year I'm contemplating letting them have it again. It's a tough call. I wish I could just give them more family contact instead, but yeah, such is life. Isn't it funny to complain about having too much? I suppose we're moms and we're meant to feel guilty no matter what :P.