With Christmas nearly two months behind us, I have absolutely no qualms about bitc- I mean, complaining, about this year’s biggest holiday regrets —or should I say biggest waste of money spent on the worst gifts and gadgets ever!
Though I’m the first one in our humble family to tout that Christmas is by no means about frivolous purchases and shiny red bows, I’m also the first one to walk through the heavenly gates of such prestigious shopping venues like Wal-Mart and Benny’s with a list a mile long of “must have” items from my eight precious children.
Actually, now that we have six teens in the mix, there really isn’t much I can purchase for that crew at our local discount hot spots, unless of course stocking stuffers like Axe Cologne – the equivalent to Off Mosquito spray – or a boatload of iTunes gift cards are on the list. No, places like that are reserved for my first and fourth graders, who still enjoy toys with plastic arms and legs, and board games that pop and spin.
And at the ages of 7 and 10, they also love the latest fad gifts; enter those furry overpriced slippers with the heads that move up and down when you walk—well, for the first day you own them that is.
I’m referring to those adorable pet feet known as Stompeez. Not only did I cave and buy them for Annie, I gave them to her a week before Christmas so she could wear them in to school for Polar Express PJ Day. Translation — by Christmas Eve, they were already shot!
Next up — another wretched purchase in the land of stuffing — the Pillow Pets, Dream Lites pillow friend — another “must have” item because it is guaranteed to help your child never be afraid of the dark. Did you know that these rainbow colored animal concoctions can even chase away the dark?
Oh, and that’s not all, it also turns your child’s bedroom into a starry night with a full blown light show in colors of neon pink, orange and lime green. Miss Annie had to have one of these as well, but sadly for me, when she opened it we all learned that Santa had totally blown it and brought the Unicorn instead of the Lady bug that she had requested.
Sigh! On the bright side, she did use the pillow on Christmas night and I believe again during the recent blizzard.
OK, so I can live with those bad purchases — they were roughly both under $30 each, and I talked my mother into buying one of them. The next two are the bigger ticket items that I totally have buyer’s remorse over — are you ready? The EZ Bake Oven and… Cough, gulp, gasp… An American Girl doll.
Allow me to go straight for the kill, starting with the EZ Bake Oven. I had an EZ Bake when I was a little girl. It stunk then, and it stinks today! We can put a man on the moon but we can’t find a better way for little girls (and yes — little boys!) to make cupcakes in an oven that operates with something a little stronger than a 100-watt bulb?
I realize there was a lot of discriminating fuss recently about the color choice of this bad baby, and pardon me, I stand corrected. I see after carefully reading the product description manual that kids can learn about cooking and whip up red velvet cake, chocolate chip cookies, rainbow cookies and much more on the updated Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven. And because there's no light bulb, this new Easy Bake kids' oven is even easier.
How they can proclaim it’s easier is beyond me. Nothing finished baking, and most frustrating of all — once a teeny, weeny plastic tray of batter was placed inside the new and improved oven, it would get stuck, therefore leaving raw batter inside the totally inaccessible insides of this purple, &^%$#()& appliance.
Not only did this make for one heck of a mess but worse, made for a very unhappy little girl because her first attempts in the kitchen proved disastrous rather than victorious. (Maybe that should be the focus of the company… Substance over color choices, but what do I know?)
By Dec. 27, our purple oven was packed up and placed in the pile going to the Island of Misfit Toys.
While I’ve saved the best for last—the coveted American Girl Doll – I think I’m going to leave well enough alone and save her for another column. I’m sure that all my well-meaning friends (whose daughters are now in college) had completely different experiences with their girl’s dolls, and probably didn’t spend more than $200 for the doll and one stinking outfit like I just did.
But because I’ve already dumped on today’s toy industry long enough in this sitting, I’ll revisit that little purchase sometime down the road.
I may have buyer’s remorse for a few items this season, but I also credit the toy industry for getting certain toys right over the years. No matter their age, my kids still reach for the timeless classics like colorful building blocks, Legos, crayons and markers, and traditional games like Monopoly, Trouble and a deck of playing cards!
Just knowing that these simplest of toys can still add such value to our lives without age limits is payback enough for the money I’ve frivolously spent on items like a non-gender friendly EZ Bake Oven.
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