Wednesday, December 05, 2018

And thinking ahead

(Though I find myself wondering this morning: how is it that this semester is not over, yet? I am so unmotivated. I have a batch of quizzes and a bit of late catch-up grading but I just want to relax and do fun things. And it's cold in my office this morning)

I started sewing up Augusta last night. Got the shoulders done, the first sleeve in, and part of the second sleeve. I've decided that Saturday - when I am staying home, because it's supposed to be a nasty cold rain - will be the day to work on this. Once it's sewn, all that remains is knitting on the neckband and button bands.

I still haven't fully decided on "over break projects" though the new socks I started (a simple garter-rib pattern in a weird KnitPicks "Sock Lab" yarn - black yarn with sparkles* and a little bit of pastel rainbow in it) will be one, and probably the big Midsummer Unicorn if I can fit the yarn into my suitcase....And maybe Celestarium.

(*I will never learn. Black yarn is a pain to knit with, and yet I love black + pastel or black + bright jewel tones for socks)

The Sunshine Family dolls and case came yesterday. I do have to clean them up a bit before display; they're dusty and have that slightly oily schmutz that sometimes comes from stuff in a house with oil heat. (No, it's not plasticizer or anything leaking out. Trying experimentally with a damp thumb I was able to rub some of it off, so I think a damp cloth with a tiny bit of soap on it will work). The case is a little damaged and I don't remember if that was noted? It looks like a mouse chewed one corner. BUT it does have the original Sears price tag from the 1970s, which to me is a plus. (It cost $3.99, which, according to this calculator would be about $17 today. Don't know if the dolls came with the case, but $17 seems pretty steep for just an empty case with a picture on the front...)

The dolls do seem to be a later issue than the set I have. (This is *probably* the 1976 issue, based on the copyright dates on things. I'm pretty sure I got mine in 1973 or 74). The clothes are different on the parents, the baby's hair is darker (more reddish, and it's curly). The plastic also has a different feel from what I remember - lighter weight.

It also came with a plastic kitten that I *think* was part of the farm set, and a rooster and a hen (one of those "lays eggs" ones with a mechanism - there was one thing in the box that I thought at first was an old Tic-Tac but that might have been a remaining egg). There's also a plastic shovel similar to one I remember having for my dolls.

And the booklets. Oh yeah, the booklets. They take me back: telling you how to repurpose a lid from an aerosol can (turn it over, fill with stuffing, tie a piece of fabric over the top) into a padded seat. And they show (from the Farm set) how to make paper "plants" for the garden that I presume are supposed to be corn....but I had to laugh because they look a bit more, superficially, like another (ahem) big cash crop that just became partially legal here.

There was also a "craft brochure" with a recipe for that salt-dough clay and instructions on how to make a basket by weaving yarn around a form you cut out from cardboard...

And I wonder, are there kids' toys now that come with stuff like that? Where it talks about how you can make stuff for your toys out of household things? I suppose maybe the expectation that households have scrap fabric and stuffing on hand is probably not such a likely expectation now, I don't know. Or maybe the idea of consuming over all has pushed out making? And so instead you buy kits for your kids that have all the stuff in them, and when the stuff is used up, well, it's used up?

One thing I noticed out and about yesterday: those LOL dolls are *everywhere*. Target has gone all-in on them - displays literally all over the store. (And the displays were mostly full, it seemed, though maybe those were the smaller cheaper sets). And yeah, the whole "blind bag" thing is huge right now and I admit I kind of enjoy it - but as a kid, if I had wanted a doll or stuffed animal, I would have wanted the exact one I wanted, not some random one, and definitely not getting a couple of blind-packs where they were maybe all the same. (And I wonder: will there be Christmas-morning meltdowns when kids get blind-packed things that are identical to things they already have, so once the surprise is over, it's just the same toy?)

I also heard the teaser line for - but didn't stick around for the story - something about "empty toy shelves in stores" and speculating that the death of Toys R Us might make toys harder to find, and I don't know. I guess Amazon still sells them, though I also know some of the popular things, third-party sellers seem to buy them up and then jack up the prices (then again: people did that thirty years ago with Cabbage Patch Dolls, they just didn't have the internet to do it on).

I don't know. I always thought the phenomenon of the "gotta have it" toy was interesting - how much of that was the kid genuinely wanting it, and how much was peer pressure? Most of the toys I remember wanting were sort of unusual things that not everyone else had. And I wonder if it's increased now in the era of Instagram and YouTube (even though I thought there were age limits on having channels or accounts on there). I will say I always felt a certain dismay over the shoving, fist-fights, and sometimes outright theft that broke out over this. (This is really not what was intended for the commemoration of Jesus' birth, I thought, even as a fairly  young person). And also, now, as an adult - well, I wonder if maybe there isn't a little heuristic value in sometimes NOT getting what you want, in learning to deal graciously with disappointment (or even: not-so-graciously) as a kid? I've seen too many adults who seemed incapable of dealing with things not going their way that it makes me wonder if they were *always* indulged as children. (And as much as I complain about "we only got toys at Christmas and our birthdays unless we saved up our allowances - which was tiny - for months on end or did extra chores for money," it was probably in the long run better for us* than getting a toy every time we went out - I've talked before about how discombobulated I was seeing kids in the Target whine or even throw a tantrum about "I want a toy" shortly before Christmas and their parents just capitulated** instead of invoking "But Christmas is coming, do you want to add it to your list?" or "but you're already getting stuff for Hanukkah" or whatever)

(* And yes, I admit one thing - I probably spend too much of my money on stuff like that NOW because I didn't get it as a kid)

(** I suppose it's possible some of those families don't celebrate, but even non-observant "cultural" Christians - and some agnostics and even atheists - do Christmas. And Jewish families usually do Hanukkah and most of the people I've seen throwing fits over "I want a toy" were people of European descent, so...I'm gonna assume 'spoiled kid' here before I assume 'they don't celebrate a December holiday where gifts are given")

But yeah. It does seems strange to me, when I look at it through a more sociological or deep-thinker lens, what we have done to what started out as a religious holiday.

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