herald

Monday 16 September 2019

Mum's the Word: The annual toy cull is a necessary evil as new arrivals loom

It's time to start figuring out Santa's often oversized gifts will fit into your home this year

The bus firm stressed in a December circular to drivers that health and safety considerations rule out the use of festive outfits
The bus firm stressed in a December circular to drivers that health and safety considerations rule out the use of festive outfits

Christmas . . . tis the season for ruthless pruning. Up and down the country parents, weak in anticipation of Mr Claus’s arrival, are busily editing their toy collections, making room for yet another Christmas Eve bounty.

For some reason Santa tends to go big. With a penchant for oversized gifts the red-suited visitor regularly delivers castles, dolls houses, Lego installations, electronic keyboards and toy kitchens that take up more floor space than a bedsit in Dublin 1.

Aside from the wonder of squeezing such exotica down a chimney, there’s the modern day dilemma of where the kids’ marvellous new booty shall be housed.

Hence the frantic, mid-December cull. In an effort to make way for Santa’s deliveries parents know that a toy edit is the only option. It’s a painful process for the nostalgic, doubly so for nostalgic hoarders.

No matter how battered that old toy looks, and notwithstanding the fact no one has played with it since of 2010, you know in your heart that it was once your darling child’s favourite toy. It may sit unloved and taking up valuable real estate in the toy box, and even though you’re pretty certain no one is ever going to miss it, you’re too attached to it to bring yourself to throw it out.

Toy after toy you consider then dismiss, packing them back into the toy box for another year. Before long you’ve thrown out very little and are back to square one: facing a Christmas Day headache that you can’t blame on the bubbly this time.

So it’s time for a reality check. Over the years, Christmas after Christmas, birthday after birthday, that collection of toys, books, games and stuffed animals has been growing. No matter how organised and well intentioned you are the kids’ toys will always get the better of you. Always.

Show me a parent who hasn’t found a

Jenga block wedged in their washing machine, a toy car in their handbag or a Lego figure hanging out in their sock drawer.

First the toy box fills up, then the shelves, then the cupboards, and before you know it you’ve willingly relinquished that extra room, signing it over to the ever-expanding collection of toys. Congratulations – you’re suddenly the lucky owner of a playroom.

I offer congratulations with sincerity. Those of you with playrooms are the envy of the rest of us who now share our once stylish sitting rooms with boxes of toys.

Jigsaws with missing pieces are an easy cull. The elusive piece causes untold frustration and while you lived in hope that it might reappear you know, deep down, it was gobbled up by the vacuum cleaner.

In many ways the vacuum cleaner is our friend. Anything that’s missing a piece is fair game for dumping, thus easing the guilt that comes with throwing out costly toys.

A necessary evil, the toy cull is a

harrowing pursuit eased only by the vision of depleted shelves and toy boxes. Enjoy the moment. In two weeks’ time there’ll be no room at the inn all over again.

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