December 10, 2007

Getting the Christmas Materialism Monkey Off My Back

Even the Pope says that hyper-materialism at Christmas, as exemplified by Black Friday madness, is bad. I agree. But there is one type of Christmas materialism that even His Hatness would approve of. Each Christmas, I go to Toys R Us and purchase a toy for a needy child, through Toys For Tots or a similar charitable program. It's something that I always look forward to.

Yesterday was my day to go toy shopping. It so happened that, just beforehand, I spotted the book Investing For Dummies while ordering some business cards. I called a friend who I know is looking for some basic investing advice, and recommended that she take a look at the book. We then discussed our respective businesses, which are still in the early stages of development. Each of us would like to be even more successful with our new companies, and we could have focused on the negatives rather than the positives. However, I told her that I was on my way to the toy store, and that, compared to children who might have no Christmas at all without the help of strangers, we are doing quite well.

Toys R Us had its usual overwhelming inventory of toys, from educational to Barbie to video games. I had no preconception of what I was going to buy, or even whether it would be for a boy or girl. I looked through the educational toys, including those by Leapfrog, but did not see anything that caught my eye. Then I spotted a bright purple and pink Dora the Explorer backpack, with a raised colorful graphic of Dora and (as I discovered from Wikipedia) her best friend Boots the monkey. It was both great-looking and useful, a combination that always attracts me. I also know that one of my friends' daughters, who is five going on six, is crazy about Dora, and I'm pretty sure that Laney is a good arbiter of taste.

As usual, I will never know who received my gift. And I know that my small gesture doesn't mean much in the scope of things. But once again, I felt some true Christmas joy knowing that, somewhere, in a few weeks, a little girl may have a big smile on her face as she lugs around her Dora the Explorer backpack full of school books, or, better yet, new Christmas toys.


At 11:59 AM, Blogger globalchameleon said...

Sweet and heart-warming - thanks for letting folks know about the program! Another giving initiative I ran across is through Oxfam - you can purchase (or gift in someone's name) a mosquito net, school uniform, blankets, even a sheep ("featured product of the month") to people who need them throughout the world

At 4:46 PM, Blogger Aileen said...

Sometimes it's good to be reminded of just how good we've got it.

At 9:27 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

So, maybe next year I'll shop for the gift at Sheep R Us?

At 1:29 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

Good for you. Giving, even to someone you never see, makes you feel good. The difficult thing is that there are 364 other days when that little girl might need some sort of support. Did you ever consider becoming a "big brother" to a child? There is something really special about making the connection repeatedly.

At 3:13 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

Barbara - right now I am uncle to a retriever, and that is quite a bit of responsibility in and of itself (I am currently taking care of him for 6 days). But being a Big Brother might be a good next step, thanks.


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