Today I threw away what is hopefully the last of the silly bands that began invading our house about 5 years ago. It was right about this most wonderful time of year too, and I have to say that I was an accomplice in the crime. I stood in line debating which pack of silly bands would be just right for each one of my children. I was teaching in the classroom at the time and "the word" on the streets was that this was the hot toy for the year. Every kid had to have at least one pack. And so began the breaking and entering of the silly bands, for which I gladly held the door open. It has been a long battle. We moved once and were hoping to have completely rid ourselves of the invaders at that time, but apparently a few escaped us and quietly crept right into the new house. I think I can finally put my feet up and say that I have won the battle and all silly bands are now where they rightly belong - in the trash.
The funny thing is, when the kids found them in their stockings all those years ago, they looked at me and said, "But what ARE they?" hoping they would do some little trick or make some kind of noise. They didn't perform. "They are just like rubber bands, see?" Yes, they were just rubber bands. That's all. Nothing more. You can use them to do... well, I'm not really sure. Hold papers? Tie things together? What kid needs silly bands - I don't know.
But that's the thing about shopping for presents. We think we've found the perfect gift - the hot item and we forget to ask, "What is it?" Last night I stopped at a store to pick up something little for my daughter's birthday. All the holiday presents and 'gifts' are displayed oh-so-prettily and yet I had to do a double take on a few things to try to figure out what they were. "Oh, that's to display your holiday cards in the reindeer's antlers!" said a voice behind me, obviously so proud that she had figured out what it was before I had. Look, I'm pretty sure I know how to figure stuff out and I am pretty sure that this is one thing I definitely do not need nor do I need to waste the time trying to figure out what it is!
There are other things that have invaded our house over the years, McDonald toys, cereal box toys, legos that will be here after the apocalypse, and thousands of other stocking stuffers that I feverishly gathered in an effort to have stuffed stockings filled to the brim with the hot toys for my kids. But my kids are not the only ones who suffered as victims of this crime. Me too. I have more junk (like balls wrapped in twine and 'decorative' bowls) than I care to mention. What was I thinking? I looked through a very fancy trendy store on my shopping spree the other night, and this is what I saw: a Decorative Horse Head for over $100, or how about an oversized painted clock face, with no clock, for almost $200. Please, "What is it?" What does it do? How does it help me? The simple answer: it doesn't. In about five years, when the trend dies down, I'll be throwing it in the trash, or worse, 50 years from now, my kids will be burying me and saying "What is this thing and why did mom have a clock that never worked hanging on the wall? THAT was the root of her problem! No wonder she was never on time!"
So this year, for Christmas , I'm not going to open myself up to an alien invasion. Anything that comes in has to be recognizable, familiar, and useful. Something to wear, something to read, something to play. I found this really cute sample list on Pinterest:
I doubt that silly bands would make it to the "I'd really love" line.
Today is giving Tuesday. It's to make us aware of others this holiday who are truly in need. It's not Christmas when we go on consumer binges. Instead of stuffing stockings with FTH, future trash heap items, I can find a better use of my time and my money - like sending it to Hurricane Sandy victims. Maybe then I can call it Christmas.