I had lots of punny titles for this post: Unleadened bread, leadless horsemen...I went with the obvious. But notice I didn't HAVE to go with the obvious. I chose to seem less creative.
First, let me say that my ideal winter holiday, truly, would be one where everyone gets two shiny pennies and an orange. Or some such thing. Maybe a whistle Pa whittled for you out of that old pine tree branch that fell down out back in the storm last fall. And that's it. But, as my Shaun likes to point out, in my family presents equal love, and the amount of love is directly proportionate to the cost of the present. An orange and two shiny pennies=the love you feel for your ratty old slippers that you never really liked but wore anyway because they were there.
My dearest friend, Tenessa, and I have overcome this cost of presents=love thing by buying many thrift-store treasures for each other. We find it thrilling to surprise one another with presents that cost less than $5 yet seem incredibly indulgent. But not everyone shares this passion for bargains.
Having V has also heightened my senses about the holidays considerably. I don't want her to be greedy, nor do I want her to be buried under a pile of toys she doesn't really love or use. At the time, I recognize that she would both adore and play with a Dora the Explorer doll, but something about this product placement in our lives creeps me out. Also, though, it's hard for me to stand up and say "Hey! World! Nothing with batteries, okay? And nothing made of plastic." Because that pretty much eliminates most of the places the people I love like to shop. Also, I didn't realize until recently how much I didn't like the plastic stuff, so it's sort of like changing the rules of a game in the third inning. I'm not ready to do that. But I am ready to reflect on the upcoming hoildays in a mindful way, and direct people who might be looking for direction to some places I think seem really cool.
Normally I try not to think about gifts until Thanksgiving, but the toy recalls have me really kinda bothered. But .... it's the holidays, a time when I can't control (much) what comes in to our toybox. At least, I don't feel like I can, yet. Beyond our own influx, I also want to give gifts to children I love: our family and loved ones and friends turned family, and of course V and Will. On the one hand, I can't afford to be all "here ya go, cousins..." fourteen times. But I do believe that gifts made not of plastic, with less likelihood of being covered in toxic crap, can be found, often affordably and beautifully. To that end, I've been compiling some links that you can share with people who shop for your wee one, if you have one, or where you can shop for wee ones you like.
Stump Pond Toys: This is through etsy, an online conglomeration of independent salespeople, many of whom sell handmade wares. This guy is just one of many, but I like the name "Stump Pond" a lot.
Palumba: Another etsy seller. Palumba is just fun to say.
Willow Toys: Lovely castles and dollhouses. Really lovely.
Quiet Hours Toys: Um, yeah. Here. Now you're done shopping forever, and me and V will love you everytime we play with this.
Casey's Wood Products: I hesitate to put this one on here, because I intend to use this in my own shopping. If you think you and yours might be one of the aforementioned 14, just skip the rest of this. Otherwise, Casey's is not just a toy company, at all, this is a great place (with great prices) to buy supplies. They have doll forms and fruit and little boxes and acorns. You can get 100 acorns for $16! If you were 4, wouldn't you swoon a little over a handful of those? Well, I would've, anyway.
Rosie Hippo’s Toys: Rosie's got lots of great stuff. I use this site for inspiration sometimes. I wish someone would make us or give us some of these. They just look like fun.
I'm also going to make gifts this year. I write this down for several reasons, but one of them is to warn the blessed fourteen that they may be receiving some slightly wonky plush toys from me this year, instead of purchased things. This was hard for me to decide, actually, because I am still a moderate sewer, and to give something as "the" gift that was handmade, even with love, seems cheap to me, still. It's not, of course: I finished one toy after 2 evenings (about 5 hours) of sewing by hand. Even if I pay myself a moderate $9 an hour, this is a $45 gift even before materials. And I do sew with thoughtfulness, considering the recipient and stitching with positive energy inasmuch as I know how. In the end, I had to think of it this way: if a dear friend of mine made a gift for V, how would I feel? Would I think they were being cheap? Not at all! I'd be touched and excited and moved. So in the end, if anyone doesn't feel that way, they can take their handmade gift and stick it in their ear.
Of course, if you've already shopped for V, and you've purchased the Deluxe Plastic Stuff boxed set, I'm sure she'll love it and it will be fine. Please don't feel bad.
This post is obviously very wishy-washy , which is one of my greatest flaws. I have a hard time being firm about anything, and not just my abs. The only place I'm firm is in the classroom, actually. The one thing I can firmly say, though, that if you buy us that wooden barn stable, I will thank you with all the wonky fabric toys you can carry.