Parents: Don’t Sweat Christmas Shopping

19 12 2008

As a youngish adult, I am at a point in my life where my friends are starting families of their own. Looking at the crazes that seem to sweep the country in toys each year (Furby, Elmo, Pokemon) has got me thinking back to my own childhood and what toys I valued most. I can remember the crazes of my younger days–Garbage Pail Kids, GI Joe, and Cabbage Patch Kids (mom actually was PUSHED by a deranged parent desperate to get one for her daughter). It seems to me that then, and probably now, “fad” toys were good for about two weeks–once the coveted item had been seen by all of your envious friends, it sat at the bottom of the toy chest.

There were some toys that provided constant joy to me–my Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, all of my construction toys and blocks, but the one thing I always enjoyed most cost nothing and wasn’t a toy at all.

I am speaking of the ever-popular cardboard box. Nothing inspired more hours of fun than a large appliance box, obtained free from the shipping dock of the local furniture store. Placed on the front lawn, with hastily cut windows and doors, the box became an instant fort. I remember one particularly dry summer when Mom carted home two large refrigerator boxes. Placed end-to-end, the “fort” seemed huge to my younger sister and myself. The windows were created by cutting I-shaped slits in the corrugated material, allowing them to be folded back (instant shutters). This particular fort even had the luxury of skylights, and with a box of Crayola markers sis and I created instant “wallpaper.”

My tip to parents is this: nothing will entertain your children longer than their own imaginations. Create a stimulating environment for them by supplying materials–give them carte blanche to make a mess. Years from now, the extra hours spent cleaning up after them won’t be remembered (I guarantee mom remembers the fun we had in our cardboard fort much better than she remembers how we dug up her gladiolas to create our own garden for it). Enjoy your children, push up your sleeves and jump right in there with them, you might have fun rediscovering your own inner child!

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9 responses

19 12 2008
The Incredible Woody

A cardboard box was always my favorite too. I loved a refridgerator box but I would get in and then ram myself against the bottom until it stood up. Ah, there’s nothing like a little privacy!

19 12 2008
Noe Noe Girl

Bingo Babe! I loved the cardboard box (still do) and Little T loves them too. I don’t feel so bad now ’cause he ain’t gettin’ ‘nuttin for Christmas! Just another cardboard box =)

19 12 2008
Big Hair Envy

Ahhh…the cardboard box, a.k.a. a new playhouse! Good times!

I used to do little crafts with my daughter when she was small, but what she and I REALLY enjoyed was cooking together! Still do. As soon as she was old enough to sit up, I had her sitting on the counter stirring stuff with a big wooden spoon. She could crack an egg clean at the age of two!!! I can’t take credit for the cooking idea, it’s what my grandma did for me……and I never forgot it:) Man, I miss her…..she’s been gone almost a year.

19 12 2008
Mental P Mama

So very true. My son just wrote a college app essay on his cardboard buildings….

19 12 2008
The Vinyl Villager

See, I knew I wasnt the only one who loved a cardboard box!

Mama–I would love to read that!

19 12 2008
Predo

I want a cardboard box now! I am working from home, with Oscar the dog, and we could have a blast! I think a cardboard condo would be the design of the day, and tomorrow would be a ranch style fort! I love the story, and the recall is caused me! You have a wonderful writing style!

19 12 2008
thegirlfromtheghetto

Oh, the cardboard box. Since we never bought appliances, (And I mean we really didn’t even have a working washer or dryer and a fridge from the 1950s called an icebox) we would have to fight other kids on the block for the stray boxes in the trash on garbage day. Best garbage picking ever.

I bought a sketch pad and erasable colored pencils this year for one of my kids. I’m encoraging him to keep up with his comic book making. I love creativity. Kids today just have too much of it because of the over-abundance of toys, video games and tv and internet time.

Back in the old days we would be locked out of the house w/o food, shelter, or anything to play with, not even bikes. You had to use your mind to play.

19 12 2008
joanharvest

My kids favorite thing to do on a rainy day was make a fort out of the kitchen table. I would throw a large blanket that covered the table and hit the floor and they would get under the table and play there for hours. My daughter was the boss and my son was always her slave. She made him get out to find various things for herself and to get her food and he did it willingly. I really didn’t need to buy them a ton of toys. The one thing I made sure they always had was crayons and paper. When it wasn’t raining they were always outdoors–NO TV.

20 12 2008
Liz

There was certainly nothing more entertaining at our house than a large cardboard box or wardrobe box. For the kids… or the cats. It was a highly coveted item. Once, I made them a teepee and that became the new thing.

However, one year when our son was little, he really wanted a Teddy Ruxpin… at the very last minute. So we went in search of it and paid twice it’s retail price, thinking we were making a huge mistake. But, I promise you that bear was worth it’s weight in gold. He put our son to sleep every night with his stories and songs. I loved that bear! He still remembers Teddy, even at 25, but Teddy was special. They pay a fortune for them on eBay now, lol.

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