Christmas Shopping Meltdown

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Our sickenly abundant Chinese Christmas

Yesterday I went shopping which, like – never happens any more, being such a stupidly over-loaded (self-imposed) writeaholic. I went shopping for scary bits for our Halloween party on Saturday and for… da da da daaaaaa – Christmas.

I usually start Christmas shopping on 27 December every year, but this year has been a little slower due to moving inter-country and publishing books and all that. Conveniently, most of my nieces and nephews are at that easy age where I can cop out and send a gift card (which is always much more gratefully received than a perfumed hanky and a stationery set).

We don’t do adult gifts any more for Husband’s side of the family and Husband and I have decided ‘not to get each other anything because coming home to Australia has been enough financial shock to the system and we’re still working through a massive stash of items squirreled in from China anyway’. (Footnote: I still got him something. Sssh).

I’ve already received an SMS from Santa saying it would be fine for Ella and Riley to get new DSi’s this year, so, mindful of the hefty Santa bill we’ll be receiving on Boxing Day (gee, DS games in Australia sure don’t cost $2 like they do in China), the kids’ stockings will certainly be a little undernourished this year.

Of course, that’s meant I haven’t had to do a great deal of shopping, which is nice – but who could ever have imagined I’d officially go Christmas shopping yesterday and come home with absolutely nothing? Nada. Squat diddly.

Since coming home to Australia, I’ve been very uninspired by the goods available for kids. Maybe it’s because my kids are reaching a certain age where things are shifting with them – preference-wise, capability-wise, obsession-wise.

Maybe it’s because products cost up to 50 times (I’m not joking) more than they do in China. Yes, I know there’s a reason for that, but that still doesn’t explain the massive mark-ups between four hundred middle men on the way to that glittery place under our Christmas tree.

Maybe it’s because, after living amongst four years of material overabundance in Beijing, I’ve come home with an overpowering desire to streamline, simplify, declutter. Since repatriating, our house has entered a delicious clutter freefall that’s had a glorious effect on our family’s life. The last thing I want to do is cram that serenity with trashy crap that never gets used, clogs up the arteries of our freeflowing household and sits firmly on the credit card like a black lump of doom labelled ‘absolute and utter frigging waste of hard earned dollars, sucker’.

I think one of the main reasons I’ve been so gobsmacked by the lack of scrumptious goodies for Christmas stockings is the price. Twenty-two dollars for a ball that pops open magnetically to reveal… nothing. Thirty-eight smackeroos for a plastic doll that will soon disappear into a sea of other non-descript plastic dolls. Eighty-nine big ones for a computer game that will be superseded before the wrapping is torn off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not cheap – but living out of the country for four years means I’ve been able to see the true value of things and have had minimal brainwashing exposure to what kids must have in order to be a fulfilled child (and adults, too, for that matter). It’s like I’ve come home and everyone is walking around in a stupefied daze – must have latest Nintendo watchamacallit immediately, cannot exist without designer label at forty times decent retail price so strangers will think am cool and rich, cannot go through life unless can mow down innocent stares in enormous, eco-quashing Hummer.

For some reason, I just can’t buy into that (‘scuse the pun). I simply can’t justify spending a cent on anything the kids won’t love, adore and play with to the exclusion of all else (stuffed toys do not qualify, no matter how cute).

So, yesterday, I walked around in my own sort of daze, brushing aside virtually every single item I spied because it did not 'qualify'. I did try. I looked, I sought, I fossicked for toys. And everything I looked at did nothing but repel my outstretched fingers like radiating kryptonite, curl my upper lip or expel an audible sigh (really a groan of disdain). Not only were the products rubbish, but the price was consistently beyond the ridiculous.

I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t do it. Why do we have to pay so much and more to the point – why do we have to pay so much for crap?

Where are we, for goodness sake? Europe?? We’re at the butt end of the world, nowhere near Europe, yet life costs so much here, we should have honorary access to the power of the Euro monetary system. How can the value of our dollar on a world scale truly equate the cost of living here? How are pensioners and infirm and single parents and other disadvantaged people surviving in this country?? Truly?

Okay, I’ll get off the whinge wagon.

I’m off to Target this morning to see if something there can redeem my Christmas shopping disdain. This is coming from someone who absolutely lives and breathes Christmas – so the last thing I want to do is become a scrooge-like, penny pinching miser (although, being someone who is usually lavish with money, Husband would be happy if this was the case).

Can I find some toys to fulfil my very unrealistic shopping pre-requisites?

Watch this bare, unwrapped space.

First published, in part, on Australian Women Online.

1 comment:

Emma Davidson said...

Know what you mean! I'm going to rob my shop for Christmas toys for the kids this year, at least I know they're all fair trade made and I get staff discount ;) And the box full of toys arrives tomorrow.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...