Monday, August 25, 2008

Dreading Christmas

QVC, on the 25th of every month, afflicts us with their "Countdown to Christmas." Today's programming is all things Christmas, like decorations, toys, gifts, and entertaining. They've been doing this since June or July. I nearly break out in hives when I absently check QVC and I'm greeted with Christmas stuff while the cicadas are still singing outside. I will not look at QVC today.

It makes me angry when Christmas gets rammed down my throat so early in the year. What about Labor Day and Halloween? Election Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving? Things are supposed to happen in some sort of order, y'know? The hype is absolutely crazy, and starting it early means my nerves are thoroughly frazzled by early December. By the 20th I'll be burned out and hating the whole thing.

Every year, The Oracle gets a bit cheated on his November birthday because going to the mall after Halloween means the crews are setting up the holiday decorations, and I refuse to look at them or start thinking about Christmas until the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

While my children are small, I dread Christmas for another reason: Toy shopping.

I love buying things for my children. I love spoiling them rotten. The thing I do not enjoy is that I am just about forced to place their materialistic Christmas glee in the hands of a nation who has no regard for human rights or the materials they use in the production of millions of items they export around the world. Yep, I'm talking about China.

There's a new guy in my "site seeing" list (thanks to vee) who blogs as East Coast Squarehead. (Do pay him a visit; you won't be disappointed.) He touched on the subject this morning and fanned the flames of my holiday worries. His fourth paragraph perfectly expressed my feelings about China and how deeply I loathe sending any money there.

What do you do, though, when the thing, that thing that a kid wants more than anything else in the world, the thing that may just "make or break" Christmas, is only available through the likes of Mattel or Hasbro or Disney, places who contract China's sweatshop factories to produce their goods?

For eleven months of the year, it is so easy for me to say, "Sorry, kid, it's made in a country I do not want to support." Aaaah, but while my children's faith in Santa is only exceeded by their faith in God (a hard balance to maintain in December!), saying "no" is next to impossible.

Dagnabbit, it taints my joy in the season. It's hard to stick to my convictions and give them what they want. Which is more important? Is their temporary joy over a piece of flimsy (and possibly lead-tainted) plastic going to outweigh the importance of supporting countries (especially mine) who follow proper business and labor practices? You can't exactly tell a kid that Santa boycotted China's toys this year when the kid next door is nearly buried alive beneath them.

It's times like these where I wish I could hide the world from my kids, even though I know it would do them no favor.


Anonymous said...

We try really hard not to buy from China. It is not easy. We start our shopping early so we have plenty of time to search. I am always on the lookout for stuff. There are webites ( is one)that help you steer clear of China made products. There is a whole line of toys they sell at Herb's that are not made in China (of course I can't think of the name right now because you can get them at other places too) I have had a lot of luck with Crayola, which is all made in America. The best thing to do is to stay out of Target,WalMart and Toys R Us. Think outside the box for gifts. I try to avoid toys and focus more on books, art/craft supplies, kids version of microscopes,telescopes,science kits, or stuff for their hobbies. Outside play stuff, pogo sticks,skates, skateboards and games (both board and outside). Of course if your kids only want the latest/greatest toys and will only be happy with that then your stuck between widening their idea of what is fun or staying in the China rut.
And as much as I try we always wind up with something from China but at least I know I did my best to keep it to a minimum.


Squarehead said...

Rock and a hard place. Not always easy to do the right thing. Sounds to me like your trying more than most of us. When your kids are older and can understand what the deal is, they will respect you.

Thanks for the nod. I appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could tell the kiddo's that you sent a note to Santa explaining your feelings regarding products made in China and he is respecting your wishes to avoid them.

Once my guys understood my reasons for avoiding products from China they were on board and more understanding of why I didn't want to get certain things for them.


--V said...

Speaking as a former child, the things that stuck with me after Christmas were not the shiny, useless bits of plastic that I lusted for (and never got, by the way. I'd get a more reasonably priced similar toys that I was just as happy with), it's stuff like the way the living room looked when lit only by candles, fireplace, and tree. Or the time we went to see the Nutcracker at the Philly Academy of Music. Or the doll house my Great Uncle Bill made me, based on descriptions from the Laura Ingalls Wilder books of the place her family finally moved into when they decided where they were living was Home For Good. He drew in the floorboards and nail holes by hand. He made every single piece of furniture in it, and enlisted my Aunt Lynn's help for making the bedding for the canopy bed. That's in my parents' basement right now. It got damaged in one of the moves, and my dad wants to repair it before he gives it back to me.

I'm with E. Explain your feelings about China to them, and tell them you've asked Santa to try to respect your wishes.

But then, I have no kids. So I may not be the best advice-giver.

Anonymous said...

stacy says:
I don't think I ever thought of where toys come from. Just like the meat at the grocery store, it comes packaged and wrapped already for cooking from meat trees, and no need for wondering what happened before that.

I like getting one very wanted toy and then filling in with toys that will grow with her and topping off with crayons and coloring books which always are a big hit.

My problem was with shelling out $$$ for a toy I KNOW FOR A FACT would not be played with. I refused to do it. Even after she asked for it, and I said no and the reason why, and then she went behind my back and asked Santa for it when she got her picture taken, I told her I was going to call him and remind him that I said no to that toy and why. That toy wasn't missed at Christmas.

Don't worry over much about what you buy. They won't miss it.

Unless it's a Red Rider BB Gun. :)

Aimee said...

Boy, am I lucky. No family nearby for comparing toy-counts to, and a Christian-centered daycare that focuses on the Reason for the Season. I figure I got at least 2 more years before The Bonster's wish list grows to include things I can't make myself.

(Yes - I am fully aware that I am fooling myself, and that before Election Day my little consumer will be making her list for Santa, and every d@mn thing on the list will require batteries. It's early, I spent my Labor Day "holiday" working, and I just want to enjoy my delusions a little longer, thank you very much.)