Now that the holiday commercials have started in earnest, I'm getting an eyeful of all the latest must-have toys. I don't want to sound like an old lady, but I can't help looking at all that stuff and wondering why everything has to be so fancy and complicated. Whatever happened to a pack of regular old markers or a set of blocks? How come all the dolls have eighteen buttons to operate lights and sound? Why are the games either impossibly complex or mind-numbingly stupid? Say it with me: They just don't make 'em like they used to.
Perhaps one of the reasons I'm so attached to toys from my era is because I still get to play with them every once in a while. (Another reason is because THEY'RE AWESOME.) When we go on vacation to visit my sons' grandparents, they always indulge us by digging back into their storage spaces and hauling out my and my husband's old things. At my parents' house, we play with my old dollhouses, my bother's matchbook cars, and the giant bag of puppets handsewn by my mom twenty-five years ago. My dad even gets out his old toys: metal Tonka trucks from the late 50s that he wouldn't let us touch when I was kid. At my mother-in-law's, it's all Star Wars figurines and army trucks and space shuttles.
New toys are all fine and good, but when the old stuff comes out, all of us--kids as much as adults--seem to have a better time with these objects that already hold so much history. It's great that some of the major brands are coming out with new version of vintage (i.e., from the eighties) toys, but you really can't buy the feeling of a beloved old doll's hair against your cheek or the pleasure of knowing at exactly what angle you need to bend Luke Skywalker's legs to get him into the cockpit of his X-wing fighter. Holding these things in our hands again can make us feel like kids ourselves, and that makes us better playmates for our own children.
If you (or your parents) still have some of your old toys, don't miss this chance to share a bit of your own childhood with your kids. Talk about what you loved about the toys, and how you loved to play with them. Watch your children learn to love them anew. Forge a connection between the generations. Have fun the way you used to. Feel like a kid again.
Do you still have some of your old toys? Do you let your kids play with them?