Are you smarter than a fifth-grade shopper?

Essay by Donna Miller

Jump ropes, hula hoops, pogo sticks, bicycles … Christmas gifts from days past!
Need help finding that perfect gift for a ‘tween? Google the most popular gifts for that age group, and the top sellers are all under the category of electronics. Hand-held video-game systems, Wiis, video games, iPods, MP3 players, and PlayStation3 systems top the list.

There is new Monopoly game complete with Monopoly Bank Cards, and an Electronic Bank Unit, working much the same way as a debit card, automatically keeping track of money exchanged between the players. In keeping up with the times, you can now collect up to $2 million for passing Go, instead of the $200 from days gone by.

Remember Chatty Cathy, Baby Magic or even paper dolls? How about the metal cars that ran by pedaling with foot power? Barbie did not come complete with a pet shop, home gym, or hair salon. Her legs bent at the hips, and her arms at the shoulders, and her head moved from side to side. She had a blonde ponytail and curly bangs, blue eyes, and she came with a carrying case that doubled as a closet, house, or whatever the imagination could muster.

Small household items such as matchboxes, small jewelry boxes, cotton balls, and cardboard cereal containers were used for furniture and accessories. In today’s world, accessories are, of course, sold separately. Barbie has a dog that eats and then “does his business” — and it comes complete with a pooper scooper. I’m waiting for a doll to be distributed that does the dishes, laundry, cooks, cleans, grocery shops, babysits, mows the lawn, and prepares taxes. It would also be nice if she would get a job to help out financially.

Technology is changing so rapidly, it’s difficult to keep up! There is an iDog, a mechanical horse that sounds and looks like the real thing (comes with a carrot), interactive games that are hooked up to your television, and video games that are way beyond my comprehension and coordination skills.

What exactly do children want for Christmas, and how do you know what they are asking for? And does Santa at the mall understand their requests? He has a tough job. How do you respond to a little boy who asks for a PR49 with aQz4 adapter, and mega GbMz quad booster? OK, I made that last part up, but you get the picture.

It is particularly surprising and disturbing to me that the American Girl Doll company has a doll dressed in a 1970s wardrobe in their historical series. That era does not seem so long ago that it would be considered “historical.” For goodness sake, I was in high school! Is time passing by that quickly? When I think of historical, I think of knickers, men with powdered wigs, no electricity, and no plumbing. How dare they say the ’70s are historical! I consulted my yearbook, and sure enough, the doll would blend right in. Shocking!

We all tend to overspend, and we want to give our children more than we had, even if we had more than we ever needed. We still need to reflect on what Christmas is all about, and I believe that is the best gift we can give our children.

Wishing you a blessed Christmas and New Year.

  

Donna Miller resides in Mount Sidney.


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