Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Holiday Shopping: Who Is It Really For?

I don’t shop for myself. And yet, I do. Roaming the isles of Toys R Us with hungry eyes, my kids’ wish list almost falling out of my excited hands.

 The Mulan Barbie for my daughter? Well, it isn’t on her list, but wow, how cool – and look at that dolly! A Hanukkah memory game? We already have a memory game, but this one’s got Jewish pictures. And my poor son – just cause he’s 10 years old, doesn’t mean he won’t enjoy this little set called “Elasmosaurs Attack!” It comes with a shallow little plastic boat, a distressed-looking man figurine wielding a cell phone, a useless-looking net, and of course, the giant prehistoric creature.

 Just for the record, we’re not rich. Not even close. I rarely shop for my own clothes. I use up little hotel shampoos leftover from the summer’s vacations, and when I run out of those, I go for Baby Shampoo, (and then my head ends up looking like a blowfish). But when it comes to our kids, especially around the holidays, we go mad. I go mad.

 It would be nice to think of it as a selfless thing that I do.

But the truth is, if I were doing this for the kids, for their well-being, I’d probably have bought a quarter of the stuff.  I mean, it can’t possibly be good for them to own SO MUCH. Can it?

 Here is what I think I’m really doing it for:

 For the joy that will surge, when they open up each package. It will be something almost physical, like an electric charge in the room. I will feel it hit me.

 For the way they hug you for each great gift. (At least THEY think I’m a good parent. At least at that moment.)

 I am doing it the little girl that I once was. 

I had a big doll, that my babushka made all kinds of cool clothes for – even jeans! And she did that at a time and a place when people didn’t get to wear such clothes!

I had a little baby black doll, an island doll. She wore a garland of bright flowers around her neck, and a straw skirt. I also owned a stuffed monkey in a skirt, a small wooden chair which I loved, and a construction site set (with the crane, etc.). That just about covers it – and honestly, I couldn’t imagine owning more at the time.

 But now, walking in between the isles of Toys R Us, it’s as though that little Soviet girl is visiting a museum of tsar-era gowns, carriages and treasure studded goblets. As I shop, the mom in me calculates which present would be best received and enjoyed. The wife nervously tries to do math, and returns half the stuff (including the Hanukkah memory game) to the cashier. The writer me looks at the cashier’s faraway brown eyes and wonders if she has any kids of her own.

 But that little girl? Her mouth is hanging open. Her eyes glisten with amazement. That little Soviet girl? She’s in fantasy-land, and she’s loving it!

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December 6, 2009 - Posted by | Personal Mirror | , ,

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