Toys No Fuss

Picking a better gift for your child

Swarming around the glass doors, the crowd presses forward, straining to surge through the moment the security guard opens the store for the morning. Mothers are shoving frantic fathers, who in turn are pushing those in front of them. The time arrives, the harried employee turns the key, and the crazed mob tramples everything in its path on the way to the hallowed shelves that hold "Turbo Man."

While this scene from Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie Jingle All the Way is humorously exaggerated, few things occupy a higher place in the minds and hearts of our kids than toys. And no time of year brings this truth home quite like the Christmas holidays.

For good or for ill, children closely identify the birth of the Savior with accumulating new booty. For those who care about time and money spent wisely (and who doesn't?), answering three key questions might save the family budget and weary feet?and make what you do buy more meaningful for your child.

1. What do I value?

Socrate's admonition to "know thyself" can be helpful at this time of year. Here are questions to consider by yourself or with your spouse:

Which toys do I object to? Some moms object to Barbie dolls, feeling they reinforce unrealistic standards of appearance for girls. Other parents steer clear of toy guns. Others ignore products with ties to Disney, or boycott goods manufactured in religiously oppressive countries.

Do I prefer toys that are less expensive or toys that will last a long time? Am I interested in something that can be used and then recycled, or do I want a toy that my grandchildren can use?

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May 25

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