Deborah Jackson

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Toy Graveyard

Has your basement, attic, spare bedroom or cupboard under the stairs become a toy graveyard? Do remnant Thomas the Train tracks or cabooses litter the visible carpet? Have Beanie Babies been tossed in obscure corners, collecting dust bunnies on their silken fur? Do you have to slalom through Polly Pockets and headless Barbies to get to the laundry?

Yes, sometimes our kids accumulate too many toys. What do I blame for that, besides myself? Christmas!

For some reason gold, frankincense and myrrh have transformed into heaps of toys, neglected and hardly used. The joy of giving has become the act of spoiling. Initially our kids squeal in excitement on Christmas morning, but even they start tossing the multiple toys aside after a while with barely a glance. And after spending all that money, we haven’t the heart to dispose of that perfect toy too quickly—especially after wracking our brains trying to come up with something different.

My kids have reached their teen years, so the gifts are fewer, but more expensive. Electronic gadgets—cell phones, iPods, Wii Games, but at least most of them are used until they’re out-of-date. For my younger great-nieces and nephews, I purchase books, but their parents have suggested a moratorium even on those. Too many books.

How can you have too many books?

Okay, so I have too many books. I have a bookshelf of unread books. I have a Kobo full of partially read classics. I have books on the floor, books on shelves in the living room, books on the shelf going down into the basement, books on several shelves in the basement and books on my night table and shelves above my bed. So yes, you can have too many books.

But I’m still convinced that books are the best gifts for kids. If you’re going to give your kids more gifts for Christmas, think of everything a book can do that the toys in the graveyard can’t seem to match (which is why they end up in the graveyard). A new world, an exquisite combination of colours and artwork to dazzle or amuse—if it’s a picture book—a laugh when it’s a sad day, a story that let’s your child know that he’s not alone with the problems he faces at each challenging age, a place to escape the pressures of this world (and let’s face it, kids have enormous pressure these days), an expanding vocabulary, the ability to focus—something multitasking and reduced physical activity (required to expend energy) have removed—the wonders of a different society or culture, lessons subtly incorporated to give them a moral grounding and the strength to face difficult choices, the magic of words so skillfully combined they’re musical to the ear and a future that only literacy can bring. There’s many more, but I’ll stop here so you can breathe.

My daughter once said on FB: I think that there are more books in my house than the average person can read in a lifetime... let's hope I'm not an average person. (I intend to dig into them all... if they're interesting.)

Why would she say that? Because she loves to read. And that is the best gift I could give her.


Jim said...

You can never have too many books.

Deborah Jackson said...

I guess you're right. Sometimes when I trip over them, I wonder, though. Thanks for commenting on my blog. You're wonderful!!

Jim said...

don't go overboard. I'm hardly wonderful. . . well. . . fine. . . I AM wonderful. Thank you for noticing.