Bridgette and I were ecstatic this week when the LA Times picked up our How to Score a Zhu Zhu Pet post. Sweet! After reading the Brand X article, I noticed a reader’s comment that brought about some valid questions.
“Does just reading about this year’s Tickle Me Elmo make you feel tired? The holidays are supposed to be a time to relax and have fun, not to get stuck running endless eleventh-hour errands to find elusive toy hamsters. We need to slow down Christmas, and start enjoying it. Kids need limits. This might be a good year to stick to 1 or 2 presents per kid under the tree, and focus on doing holiday activities together instead of buying all that junk. Just like there’s pressure to keep up with their classmates’ Christmas presents, my guess is if any of the other parents hear that you’ve opted out, they’ll be thrilled and relieved that they can do it too. Sanity is contagious.”
For some reason, we were not able to reply on the Brand X site, so we wanted to share our thoughts on this comment here. We are NOT looking for a flame-throwing smackdown here, but we do want to know what other Moms think. We feel as if the commenter has some valid points, but to illustrate our views, we wanted to share our stories:
Jennifer’s Story: I am 34 years old, and “the” toy when I was about 8 or so was the Cabbage Patch Doll. Bridgette and I lived across the street from one another and had another friend a few houses down. They both had a Cabbage Patch doll and I didn’t….yet. The reason I didn’t have one yet is because you couldn’t get one, much like the Zhu Zhu Madness going on right now. I can vividly remember news footage showing rambunctious crowds of anxious mothers with their hands raised, clawing and fighting while store managers stood on ladders and tossed out Cabbage Patch boxes to the crowds. If you caught one, you were lucky. If you didn’t, you had to go home and break your child’s heart. But from what I remember, you were just lucky if you didn’t get trampled!
My parents were never the kind to try and keep up with the Jones’ but for some reason Mom decided that I had to have one like everyone else. It was probably because she was tired of hearing me beg for one! She called everywhere, no luck. Finally, after a lot of persistence, she hit the jackpot. There was a Zayre’s store right by the house (do they have Zayre’s anymore?) and they had one. ONE. Mom, my little brother, and I headed out early and were there when the doors opened. The manager handed over the box encased in two shopping bags that were sealed shut so no one could see what we were getting or a riot might ensue. Mom let my brother get the Star Wars Ewok village to keep it fair, and we checked out as fast as we could. Mom told us that was our little “Out of school for the summer” present. My Cabbage Patch doll is now in my daughter’s toy box.
Bridgette’s story: I am 35, so my childhood was filled with much of the same “must have items” as Jennifer’s. I, too, reeeeaaallllyyyyy wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid, and even though my Mom and Jennifer’s Mom stood in line together to try and score a Kid, they turned up empty handed (but probably went out for coffee afterwards). While she tried as hard as she could, it was my Grandmother who fought the crowd and was lucky enough to snag one for me. I still remember that her name was “Esther Morgana.” Who comes up with those names, anyway?!? Geesh.
So the point in telling you all this is to say that both of these stories turned into fond childhood memories. We are glad that we remember our Moms going the extra mile to try and get something we really wanted. Thanks, Mom! Was our perception of Christmas ruined because we got the dolls we wanted? No! Do we now know the true meaning of Christmas? Sure! Did our families still have quiet time together to enjoy the holidays? You bet! When we look back at our memories of Christmas, we remember the “must-have” gifts, but more than that, we remember the Christmas lights, the family parties, and going to midnight Mass.
Bridgette and I found the commenter’s points to be very thought-provoking. It brings about the question of what lengths other parents will go to in order to get the “in” thing and do you think it is detrimental to your child? For our children, Zhu Zhu Pets are within financial reason and are age appropriate, so we will gladly go through a little “endless eleventh hour errand” to try and get them. Matter of fact, I think I can speak for my other cohort in Zhu Zhu crime (my friend Kellee) when I say we actually enjoyed our two hour stint in line at the Wal Mart! We got to chat for two whole hours without being interrupted! It was quiet! We relaxed! We had fun! Plus, we got a few good laughs at ourselves while we were there. When we left shortly after midnight to head home Kellee actually hollered out from across the empty parking lot, “Another memory has been made!” It’s not like we waited in line to get our five year olds some Madonna tickets. It was a toy! And while Christmas IS completely about slowing down, spending time together, and of course remembering the real reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place, it is also very much about going the extra mile for those we love. If it’s an eight dollar hamster, I’ll do it. If it’s the $3,500 bracelet my daughter circled in the latest Tiffany and Co. catalog, I am setting a limit.
The commenter says “Sanity is contagious.” He is right, but to quote the wise philosopher Jimmy Buffet, “If we all couldn’t laugh we’d all go insane.” So, if waiting in line for an eight dollar hamster gets my daughter to smile, and I had a good time doing it, I am sticking with Jimmy.
So please, comment and tell us your thoughts! Do you try and get the “new” thing for the kids if that’s what they want? Do you put your foot down and say no? How much is too much? We can’t wait to see what you have to say on the subject!
~Jennifer and Bridgette