Humor: Presents of Mind

Claire looks back and wonders: was gifting violent video games and high heels to her youngsters a bad idea?

The holidays: wasteful, overly-commercialized, ridiculous, and depressing. I loathe them. But I love my kids and they loved Christmas, so when they were little I put on a happy holiday face, spent a boatload of cash on their presents and drank my fair share of Chardonnay in order to endure it. I tried hard to buy proper presents. I admit, though, that I did buy some that weren’t exactly what some purists might call politically correct.  To this day two in particular make me cringe but one thankfully saved my sanity. 

Most cringe-worthy present: one year I bought my four-year-old daughter a pair of toy high heels and a kitchen set (sorry Gloria Steinem). I’ll never forget the day I watched her in the backyard vigorously scrubbing down the kitchen set while wearing her high heels and her favorite really, really short mini-dress. The feminist in me died a little bit that day.

Most downright thankful present: another year I bought my young children their first video game which I’m now ashamed to admit was called Streets of Rage (or as my 3-year-old called it Stweets of Wage).  My kids as well as my husband loved it and so I considered it a “downright thankful” gift. Because of that video game I got to relax and read chick-lit books while hubby and the kids played and played and played. What would I have done without Streets of Rage?

Side bar:  I honestly didn’t know what the game was like despite the glaring clue in the video’s name.  Eighteen years and a lot of wine-soaked holidays later, I became curious as to why my kids loved that game so much, so I e-mailed my daughter and asked, “Honey, what exactly was that video game like?” “It was so violent,” she replied.  “You walked down the street and killed the bad guys.  One weapon was a broken beer bottle. Another option was to beat the bad guy over the head with a crow bar.  That's why it was called Streets of RAGE, Mom.” Oh, yeah, right.

Notwithstanding the gift-giving screw-ups, my children turned out fine.  In fact, despite cutting their video teeth on “Stweets of Wage,” both my kids are staunch pacifists and, even in the face of the kitchen set/high heel/mini-dress debacle, my daughter is one of the strongest feminists I know.  So did I make a few boo-boos in the gifts I bought them? Yes. Did I spend 98% of my time doing the right thing for them? Absolutely. Well, then, pass the Chardonnay and let’s all tolerate another happy holiday season!


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