It’s Christmas Eve. That must mean the obligatory Christmas-themed post. With a bit of horror thrown in. And what could be more horrible for a parent at Christmas than a visit to the local toy shop?
Maybe it’s just the way my mind works, but I find the 21st century toy shop surreal and disturbing. On a recent visit in search of a gift for a birthday party (and to surreptitiously collect Christmas gift ideas for the kids), I was confronted in the entrance of the store by a big stack of Doggie Doo on sale. This Youtube clip explains what a Doggie Doo is, and probably also explains why it was on sale. In our house, if we want to make a game out of picking up dog poop, we have a real dog. And real poop.
But I suppose this toy is only a natural extension of the dolls that “really” wet and dirty their nappies. My youngest daughter used to have a doll that ate and pooped green-coloured mush. I assume the purpose of these toys is to prepare children for the distasteful chores of adulthood (e.g. cleaning up messes after dependent creatures), but if that’s the case, then why does the mess always have to be coloured in an unrealistic shade that would have you rushing to the vet’s/emergency room if it came out the rear end of a living thing?
And speaking of dolls…horror-themed dolls are de rigeur this year, doncha know? Monster High figurines are purported to be the offspring of classic horror icons. You have the likes of Dracula’s daughter Draculaura, Medusa’s son Deuce Gorgon, and Cleo de Nile, daughter of The Mummy. Not wanting to miss a ride on such a lucrative bandwagon, the manufacturers of Bratz dolls have their own pseudo-scary dolls range, Bratzillaz. Personally, I’m drawn to the Monster High dolls in spite of my better judgement, moved in the opposite direction by Bratzillaz, and absolutely terrified by the thing on the shelf between the two, which was a One Direction doll (a tiny, corpse-like Harry Styles). Looking at that made me want to sand his face off (anyone who has read my story “Life in Miniature” will know what I mean).
It’s also somewhat scary to find out how out of touch I am. I pointed out what I thought would be the perfect gift for an eight year old girl, a decorate-your-own-glow-lamp kit, only to be tactfully informed by my daughters that most girls would prefer My Little Pony or Bratz or something else packaged in pink and mass-produced in China.
“Back in my day,” my eight year old proclaimed, “My Little Ponies didn’t have horns or wings.” (Back in my day?!? She’s eight!)
Perhaps I have been too heavily influenced by old schmaltzy Christmas movies, but my visit to the toy shop did not bring about a rush of nostalgia or a rekindling of a childlike sense of wonder. I definitely felt an adult sense of wonder, though; most of the time I wandered about with my mouth agape, muttering to myself, “What IS all this shit?!?”
With one exception. I fell in childish, covetous love with the Lego Monster Fighters set. What horror writer wouldn’t want a tiny plastic Van Helsing in her Christmas stocking?