Christmas is right around the corner, and Hanukkah will rush in weeks before Christmas trees appear twined to the roofs of minivans. Countdowns dangle in store windows like wishes on stars. Just 30-some more days until your kids get enough junk to make you consider setting your house on fire and starting over from scratch.
Every year, children throughout the country and the world wake up to unwrap more stuff than any one person should own in a lifetime. We are talking hoarder status here. Parents grit their teeth and bite their tongues, smiling and saying thank you all the while dreaming up the special ways those annoying whirling gizmos and talking gadgets can die quick but terrible deaths. And every year I wish there was a frank, lay-it-all-out-on-the-table book of guidelines for anyone gifting anything to any child anywhere. This year, I’m writing my own. This is the guide for anyone who is buying my kid a gift.
For the love of God, no more stuffed animals. We have 5,000 of them, and for the most part, they sit in the corner collecting dust and boogers. The number of stuffed animals in a home should not exceed the number of children who live there. One child? One stuffed animal. Two kids? Two stuffed animals. I’m sure you can follow the pattern. Stuffed animals serve one purpose, to get dirty and then promptly ruined beyond recognition in the washer.
If it has a million tiny pieces, it’s only a matter of time before three-quarters of it is in the trash. If I step on it or see it lying on the floor and I have no idea what it goes to, it goes in the bin. The next time I play a game without all the pieces, the whole game goes in the garbage. Basically, if you gift my kid something that requires repeated assembly, just do us both a favor, skip the middle man, and throw it in the trash yourself.
Glitter is the herpes of craft products. It never goes away. It sticks to everything. It’s clinically proven to drive parents to complete and utter insanity. If you send glitter to my house, I will consider it an act of terrorism. I will never forgive you for gifting my child glitter. You may want to consider joining the witness protection program and becoming a sheep farmer in Montana.
If it needs batteries, it is probably loud. If it’s loud, I’ll be sure to find a way to return it to your house so it can give you a heart attack when it starts singing at 3 a.m. Or I’ll take the batteries out of it and tell her you bought her a bum toy.
I know it seems a little impersonal, but cash is OK. Kids are expensive and the activities they love cost more and more with each passing season. There are soccer cleats and dance shoes to buy, goggles and art easels, and all the supplies needed to basket weave. If you give my kids cash, I promise to set it aside with the exception of $5, which I will use to buy an overpriced latte at Starbucks.
And, while all these sentiments are genuinely felt as I cringe with each tear of the wrapping paper, I do appreciate you thinking of my child during a hectic and overwhelming holiday season. The truth is I really wish you’d spend some time with said child. Come visit, take her to a movie or to the park, or color with her. She’s got so much junk, but she only has one you, whoever you are. Besides, Mama needs a break.