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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Unfortunate True Spirit of Christmas?

I'm all about getting the best deal on toys, clothing, whatever I need for my house and family. But there are certain things I *won't* do to get that favorite toy for my kids. 

That includes killing people. 

I was shocked (although in hindsight, not really) to read in the news about how a crowd of roughly 2,000 people trampled a 34-year-old Wal-Mart greeter somewhere in New York. Or how two armed men shot each other in a California Toys 'R Us after the women they were with got into a bloody confrontation over who knows what. Officers at the scene apparently said it "wasn't over a toy," although it's hard to tell at this point whether it was that or a dispute between two people who already knew each other. At any rate, step foot inside a Toys 'R Us within even a month of Christmas and you'll see all kinds of hideous behavior, all for the sake of what their kid's flavor of the month favorite toy is. 

If you're a child of the 1980's like me, you might remember the dreaded Cabbage Patch Doll craze. My mother obtained one such "rare" doll after a shopping spree, only to be approached by a woman at the end of the checkout line asking how much she wanted for it. And this was probably 25 years ago. We've certainly escalated in our behavior since then: don't bother asking, just brighten someone's Christmas by whipping out a 9 mm pistol. That'll show little Johnny how much you care. 

And to think: last year for Christmas I was hellbent on buying my son the Blue's Clue's Memory Game. After searching several stores, including the hated Toys 'R Us, I gave up and bought another version - I didn't shoot someone over it. And you know what? A year later, we've found the cards are the perfect tool for keeping our roller blinds from letting in too much light around the edges. Who would have thought. I bet half the toys parents clamor over each other for will be relegated to the 'unplayed with' pile a year, maybe six months, later. 

That's the thing about toys. Sometimes it's never enough. I wonder, who wants the toy more - the kid or the parents? Maybe my kids are deprived, but whenever we go to friends' houses I'm always amazed at how many toys their kids have than mine do. One mother I know says she 'buys her daughter a new toy for getting through the week' or something like that. I hope my facial expression didn't give me away too much but I honestly couldn't believe what I was hearing. No wonder my kids love going over to their house, because the place is like it's own version of FAO Schwarz. 

And it's obvious the Black Friday Walmart shoppers had nothing else on their minds than toys and good deals when they literally crashed through the electric doors that morning. Two thousand people. And now a guy is dead because they wanted to save money on some worthless gadgets and trinkets. What's even sadder is that they have to go over security footage to find the suspect(s) who are not turning themselves in. Perhaps they don't want to believe or admit that they behaved like animals and were part of a group directly responsible for someone's death. 

Sadly, this sounds more like the "true" spirit of Christmas nowadays.