It’s a funny time of year, leading up to Christmas, for those of us who celebrate it. Everyone is talking about ‘getting their shopping done’ and there is general discussion of what gifts people have bought for whom. Advertising is at its very worst (or most insistent or whatever adjective you prefer). This,coupled with that warm fuzzy feeling Christmas can bring (I’ve had plenty of years when it didn’t, but now that Little Fearse is around the warm fuzzy feeling is back) it can really bring out the consumer in a non-consumer.
I have had my heart set on buying Little Fearse some African animals for Christmas for imaginative play. She is starting to get very interested in pretend play with her dolls, cars and soft toys. She likes dressing up and pretending to be different animals.I wasn’t expecting this kind of play from her for a little while longer, but the teacher in me desperately wants to foster this. She has been really enjoying our zoo trips and seems particularly fascinated by animals like the ostrich, meerkats, lions and giraffes.
I don’t want to buy her junky toys. Like most toddlers, she plays hard with her toys. They get tossed, crushed, chomped, folded, tugged. I want to buy her toys that can withstand that kind of play. I also don’t want to get her cartoony looking animals, I’d love them to be realistic. I think that animals like these are super cute, but I’d rather the animals Little Fearse plays with look like the animals she sees at the zoo.
I’ve found a brand I love – realistic looking, durable animals. There are various used lots available on Gumtree and eBay, most in great condition (testament again to how long lasting these animals are). The problem is, these toys are also collectable. They regularly retire a run of animals, making them highly sought after. I have found myself getting into outrageous bidding wars, ones where I have bid all my Paypal reserves plus some and still been outbid. Bulk lots of these gorgeous figurines go for hundreds of dollars. This is well outside my Little Fearse Christmas budget. This does not feel like a simple Christmas.
One of the worst consumer traps is the increasing strength of desire the harder it is to obtain something. Designers don’t put $3000 price tags on their clothes because they are worth that much money. They put $3000 price tags on their clothes so they are unobtainable, and therefore desirable. The same goes for buying second hand goods. Earlier this year I got into a frenzy over trying to buy a Little Squirt nappy hose to attach to my toilet. I was so obsessed I bid on 5 or 6 auctions on eBay and was outbid every time. They went for close to the price of a new one. I ended up buying a very second hand (it was oooold) one on Gumtree. I paid way too much for it and when it arrived discovered it was so perished and leaky that it was no use to me. The desire to have a Little Squirt nappy hose instantly faded.
I have managed to find some smaller lots, two meerkats and two lions for Little Fearse. It isn’t exactly the zoo I imagined. I hope that my efforts haven’t been fruitless, but boy am I glad I lost those $100 auctions.
We are almost at the end of our BNN year now, and it seems to me that those ugly consumer habits may still be just below the surface, waiting for the perfect opportunity to take over my rational thoughts. It is going to take a lot longer than a year to undo 30 odd years of buying habits.
I hope you have had a more rational start to the holiday season.