Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Late night shopping thoughts

In the midst of the birthday shopping for Tristen's upcoming celebration, I was overcome by a variety of thoughts. I couldn't help but think of how much excess we already have. I was torn between wanting to get her something and not wanting to purchase junk. I believe that we have so much more than we need. The kids have plenty of toys and books and clothes. We already have too much. In fact I was embarrassed of that when we moved here to this house.

I should have planned ahead and ordered something special from a catalog of something that I know she would really enjoy. Instead I am combing over the toys at the Walmart and only have a set of $ .88 jacks in my shopping carriage. I walked the aisle and looked at the shelves and didn't want to buy any of it. Most of it is cheaply made. Most of it promotes self centeredness ("it's all about me" diva type of stuff). A lot of it promotes these tween age girls to embrace growing up too fast. I'm not sure I want my 8 year old thinking about dates and boys and mid-riff shirts. And I know that I don't want to support a line of toys titled Bratz (I don't want to raise a bratty child). I desire to filter what the world has to offer and check it with our Christ-centered beliefs.

I feel like it is hard to raise my children in our society and not compromise on my beliefs. Am I alone on this one? Maybe shopping at 8:30 at night after a long day is just overwhelming anyway.


Anonymous said...

You are SO not alone. I cannot agree more. We actually have cut way back on gifts. They get one gift for their birthdays and 3 at Christmas. It is not because of money. It is because I want them to have less junk and I also want them to appreciate what they have.

It is hard to raise Godly kids these days. It is always in their face and ours. I think especially tween girls. WE are that stage with 3 of the girls now and it is hard. Homeschooling helps because they are not pressured by other girls to fit in. We are into modesty and preserving their childhood for as long as possible. It is not always easy. It seems Olivia has a harder time fitting in because she seems imature in comparison to other 12 year olds. We are so happy she still plays with dolls and is a child, not a mini grown -up.

That turned into a book.

Great post. I love your passion for good parenting!! It is so rare these days!

K-Sue said...

I agree 150%. I think if we chose to live without TV/movies it would help, but you would almost have to live without friends, too. We do not, for example, watch or buy things related to Hannah Montana, the latest little girl craze, but my daughter is fascinated by her, and at friendss homes she sees HM everything, during church she is drawing pictures of HM... It's scary, how like a goddess these young girls treat her.

Several years ago, a sweet and wise little Christian boy from our church chose not to receive gifts for his 8th birthday. His idea! He and his parents, instead, made it an opportunity for ministry, choosing to ask the boys coming to donate a soccer ball. Just after they had decided to go this route, they learned our church was sending a mission team to prepare a half-size soccer field for an in-town ministry in an island country (don't recall which island). Th team was able to take along 10 soccer balls to stock the field.

When I tell my daughter this story, she kinda says, "Uh huh. Maybe for my birthday I'll get some more Barbies. And some more clothes." Sigh. The world is loud, and I'm not immune to it myself.

twyska said...

I totally agree also. We have a lot of kids in our neigborhood so we hear a lot of "but all the neighbors have one."

Tiffany said...

I so completely agree. We already have so much and so little of it really gets played with. Grace has a birthday coming up too and I'm also trying to think of original gifts to give her. Here are some suggestions I have thought of for this year or from previous years--
A butterfly garden kit. This is a really fun project and lasts much longer. You get to send away for your caterpillars and then watch them grow and change and ulimately release them. We've also done ladybugs and ants and we have a praying mantis kit that she got for Christmas--haven't sent off for those yet, I keep forgetting.
A nature backpack--stuff it with a field guide or two, sketch pad, crayons or colored pencils, a container for catching things, magnifying glass, maybe a disposable camera.
Sewing kit--her own needles, thread, stuff for a small project, pins, pin cushion, scissors, etc.
Or give an experience and then a small gift--ice skating, putt putt, dinner at a fun restaurant with a friend, lunch at a girly tea room like The Garden Gate, tickets to a play.
Those are my thoughts, hope they help.

Annie said...

You sure aren't alone! I am so sick of stuff, I can hardly stand it. When I was in Russia one of the things I loved was that there is so much less STUFF. We visited some friends and their house was just so simple. They don't have huge closets of clothing...just a couple of outfits for each season. A room for the kids, a room for the adults, and a sort of "family/computer" room. A tiny little kitchen with no gadgets at all! No effort at "decoration". It was so amazingly peaceful! My newly adopted son is so pleased to have a room of his own, but bit by bit he is trying to get everything out of it. He just wants his bed and a dresser.

I also hate buying junk....and you know, the funny part is - WE are more worried about the cost of gifts than the children are. I have noticed that I can do what seems "right" and buy an "appropriate" birthday gift - but if there is an .88 set of jacks attached, that might well be the thing that Anastasia would really want and play with. Cost means nothing to the children. UNTIL they get to be teens when they are always looking over their shoulder.... Mine go to a school where everyone but us, just about, is very affluent. So my two older boys are always afraid they might not have the "best" brand. I just hate it!

Rachel said...

We are sooo on the same page! I prayed and prayed over taking the girls to Libby Lu in fear that they would promote "tween/teen" dress up. We were very happy with what they did with the girls. Only glitter on the nails and spray glitter in the hair and cheeks. I struggle so much with this. It amazes me at what some children are exposed to and believe to be acceptable. Sometimes I wonder if we as christians have become desensitized to the world. WHEN I FIND THE TIME to sit down and channel surf I am amazed at the sights and sounds coming out of my 6,7,8 o'clock NO LESS!! My Madison is crazy about baby dolls (she will be doing a post this evening about her baby abby) and it is amazing how many kids make fun of her for it. They are both pressured to wear makeup to school...I'm sorry but my eight year old daughters ARE NOT going to wear makeup to school. They think it is special to get to play dress up with my jewelry and makeup on the weekends and I want to keep it that way!
As far as gifts go...have you considered asking if SHE would like to buy a gift for a needy child for her birthday. We did this one year and it was the most precious thing ever. The girls of course got gifts from others but they loved buying someone else a gift for their birthday (my father always gives me a gift on his birthday is how we came up with the idea).

G Sheller said...

Everyone has said this so well in their comments, so I will just add-you can help your girls to go through what they have and choose some items to give away for starters. My kids are smaller, so I don't consult with them first-I just load up the back of the van and go. Then, when shopping for your gifts maybe try catalogs that carry higher quality toys(I am talking construction as well as content)and just buy much less-maybe one special thing that you will be able to save for your grandkids as well-that way you end up having less and less to throw away. As our family grows we will most likely do a special outing and maybe one special gift for the birthday child rather than give a bunch of gifts just for the sake of being gifts. I also disguise homeschooling supplies as gifts for my kids sometimes.

Christy said...

Like you, when I've had to pack up all the "stuff" it brings the reality of what we keep and treasure to light. Befor this last move I read a book about hoarding. Not that I'm a hoarder by any means (ask Mark), but it's the stuff we can't seem to part with, the stuff we think is soo important. It's the memory that is important, not the soccer cleats who wore in 1981!!!

I've noticed with my boys- that to buy toys that don't either promote a movie/cartoon or are violent- is a hard thing to do. It gets harder to find things as they get older. We have started the special dinner or trip somewhere, and now that Jacob is almost 12, it's gotten to the point of just saying, "What do you want".

I guess you have realized that all of us that have commented feel the same!

Happy Birthday Tissy!!!

oneblessedmamma said...

Such a hard thing! Mimi just learned how to finger knit, and at the current time, yarn would make her happy, but that's not always the case. We may not be "of the world", but we are definitely "in" it and the influences run both ways. I too am appalled that there is a line of dolls called Bratz, and that people willingly buy them.
As for gifts, Sari's birthday is Saturday, and she is getting 2 towels that I am getting her name and a flower embroidered on. She's easy to please though being only 3. Mimi got a lot of hand craft stuff for Christmas-a wooden lap-sized loom, fabric and a girl's sewing book, etc. She also got her own Bible and a devotional book. Just some ideas...There's always games, puzzles, books, or magazine subscriptions (they are a gift that keeps on giving). Or something with a nod toward the pop culture but more toned down like the Strawberry Shortcake Dance Dance Revolution Mimi got for Christmas. All the fun, none of the questionable lyrics :-).

The Queen said...

Oh have I ever been there...just that feeling of wanting to find SOMETHING but not something useless. I've made big mistakes and seen it laying around within days and other times got the "perfect" not junk gift.

I have 3 kids with birthdays right around Christmas and that is also hard because they have already gotten WAY too much J-U-N-K. We have 3 sets of grandparents...enough said!

I do find trying to think ahead several weeks has helped me out of that slump...being on alert to look for really great, usable things. And I have to say, girls are much more difficult. I could give any of my boys a bag of nuts and bolts and they'd be mostly thrilled! :p

steffany said...

You're not alone.

Christine said...

I totally agree. Why don't you get her something like a baking kit that the two of you can do together or a nice art set from Michaels? You can also buy her a new hair brush with lots of new hair bows, barettes, etc. There are lots of things to buy that are not in the toy aisles. :)

Randi said...

I agree.

Lee & Bev Hotchkiss said...

Sounds like your friends are all "in the same boat!" Always a dilemma, I know. I think our childhood and familly of origin has a big influence on our perspective of gift giving. Hope we passed on good values to you! Mom

Susan said...

Wow. It's great to read what everyone wrote. What a good post. We go really low key at well as Christmas, on gifts. Since we move often and have such a small place we can't have too much stuff and have to go through stuff and toss it often. We still have more than we need though, and have to work hard at teaching and modeling thankfulness, combating the lie that the world tells us that just a little more will make me happy.

Julie said...

I agree also and can see a lot of people had a lot to say about this as well. We generally don't give our kids a "gift" for their birthdays, their party is usually their present from us. Sometimes we get them a little something to open like a shirt or book.