Thursday, December 24, 2015

What Not to Buy Kids for Christmas

I was braving the Christmas crowds at Chapters bookstore when I saw it. Chapters, of course, doesn’t sell just books anymore (I wonder how long it will be before books are a decorative sideline for the main business of flogging gewgaws), but the tower of fort-making kits in the middle of the aisle took me by surprise, nonetheless. I thought of my daughter, now grown, the master fort-builder in our family. She made forts everywhere and with everything - at the beach with driftwood, in the forest with branches and logs, in the house with sofa cushions, blankets and boxes, in the back yard with a tarp tacked to the woodshed. The fort-making kit at Chapters comes with clips, posts and a colourful plastic sheet; on the box in bold letters is the catch-phrase - “a different adventure every fort.” Gone, however, is the best part of the adventure.

This Christmas, with the much anticipated and long-hyped new Star Wars film out, you can’t go anywhere without seeing stacks of Star Wars gear and toys (also available in Chapters). I was listening to an interview with the set designer of the original Star Wars. It was a low budget film. He gleefully described creating the now legendary light saber, a flash handle found in a box of junk in a photography store, bubble strip from an old calculator taped on, a d-ring glued to the top so it can fasten to a belt.

Creativity, surely, is in creating. The joy of making isn’t only in completing, but in finding, in arranging, in putting things together until you can say at last – that’s it, that’s better than I imagined. Children find a way to thwart the adults in their lives, of course, playing with the fort-making box, refashioning wrapping paper, building castles out of toys and light-sabers from cardboard tubes, but don’t you sometimes wonder why we seem bent on crippling our children with gifts.

No comments:

Post a Comment