Christmas: To have and to hoard

Shopping list? Check. Credit cards? Check. Shin guards? Check. Let the official holiday shopping season begin.

Sure, sure, technically we all know that the Christmas season snuck in stealth like, right alongside the Halloween candy, but we are supposed to pretend we don’t know that.

In order to continue the delusion that your average American understands and appreciates the meaning of Thanksgiving as more than just the benchmark of retailing frenzy and a boon for the otherwise wholly ignored cranberry trade.

Must? Not! Soon, along with numerous stunningly bad remakes of Miracle on 34th Street, eggnog with a two-month shelf life, and bizarre compilations of Christmas music sung by barking dogs and chipmunks, the media will relentlessly stalk us with reminders of how many shopping days, hours, minutes and seconds there are until Christmas.

More importantly, they will provide the valuable public service of informing us what the season’s “must-have” item is. Thus allowing us to get in early on the chance to line up like cattle in pursuit of it.

Elbowing aside grandmothers and stepping over each other to get that elusive Cabbage Patch doll, video game, or Tickle Me Elmo du jour. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without at least one stampeding toy riot.

I have braved the line of shoppers intent on snapping up newly released Holiday Barbies and let me tell you, it isn’t for the faint of heart.

Worse yet, I once let my toddler actually PLAY with a Beanie Baby, even going so far as to – avert your eyes if you are easily repulsed – remove the tags.

It is truly a wonder that I can hold my head up among decent people. Particularly people who are convinced that a mint condition, never been played with toy will “really be worth something someday.”

Trashed treasures. Scores of “collectors” now carefully hoard Barbies, Beanie Babies, and the like.

Endeavoring to keep the toy in mint condition in the original box. Forever safe from the grasping paws of actual children who might, perish the thought, actually play with the thing.

The only flaw in this plan being the failure to realize that the real reason that Howdy Doody dolls and Superman lunch boxes became valuable is because a kid first played with them, and then let them fall into the clutches of a mom who threw them away when the kid wasn’t looking.

In the old days, (otherwise known as those glorious pre-eBay days when parents had better things to do than catalog their child’s collectibles) this was a mom’s sworn duty: to toss, sell or give away any unguarded toys left lying about. Such as first edition Spiderman comics, prototype Barbie dolls, and unguarded Mickey Mantle rookie cards.

Through their selfless dedication to purging all potential future valuables (then known as “kid’s junk”), these dedicated moms ensured that the surviving examples of any item were rare, and thus valuable.

This is not to say that kids didn’t do their part. It is through my dedication to mutilating my Barbie doll’s hair with manicure scissors that your own c. 1973 Malibu Barbie may be worth something today.

You can thank me later.

Trash it for cash. These days, some people have lost all sight of the true spirit of the season.

In the interest of bringing back both the joy of the season and of standing in really long lines buying overpriced toys while visions of future collectible cash dance in our heads, it is only fitting that we all do our part.

Grab some eggnog, gather around the yule log, spin some Perry Como on the old CD player and get to work. We are going to have to work long and hard to de-tag the Beanie Babies and smudge up all the Pokemon cards people.

And I don’t think I need to remind you that Barbies don’t behead themselves.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt states that no Beanie Babies were harmed in the making of this column. She welcomes comments c/o kseabolt@epohi.com or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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