It happened again.
It doesn’t happen every year, but it does happen regularly over time.
Unless you have been living under a pet rock, you have probably heard about the latest toy that is making otherwise sane people throw common sense out the window in their quest to buy one.
In case you haven’t seen one, a Hatchimal is basically a Ferby – another toy fad circa 1998 – that is encased in an egg. You “nurture the egg” until the robotic animal pecks its way out and into your life forever.
If we look back, each year there are always popular Christmas toys, like Easy Bake Ovens or Rubik’s Cubes or Beanie Babies or anything from Frozen. But every once in a while for no clear reason, a toy becomes a crazy fad and causes people to behave in desperate and irrational ways.
Back in 1983 it was Cabbage Patch dolls.
In 1996 Tickle Me Elmo became the toy no child could live without. It’s so popular that it actually has a spot in the Smithsonian in Washington.
In 2016 it is a Hatchimal.
Here’s the thing: The suggested retail price for a Hatchimal is around $50.
Now with them being in scarce quantity and high demand, you probably will have to cough up between $200 and $350 dollars to get your hands on one. That’s after scouring eBay or Kijiji in hopes of finding one available, or in the rarer occurrence that a store announces they have some in stock, in which case you will need to line up for hours to grab one.
Why do parents say they are willing to pay these prices and devote this much time to acquiring a Hatchimal?
Their kids want one and they want it now.
And they don’t want to have to deal with the disappointment that little Johnny or Mary didn’t get they thing they “have to have”.
I feel that it’s necessary to put in my “I’m not a Scrooge” disclaimer at this point.
These toy fad crazes can bring out the very worst in us.
They appeal to a scarcity mindset that says “I’ll do anything to get this thing”, forgetting that in a few months you will likely be able to pick up a Hatchimal at the regular price if not a deeply discounted one.
They put an over-emphasis on the commercialization of Christmas that leads us to spend more money than our budget allows for things that we will lose interest in rather quickly.
They reinforce with our kids the unrealistic idea that we always get what we want when we want it.
I remember one Christmas I wanted a cassette tape recorder – because that was the thing that everyone wanted that year. I got a small transistor radio instead.
Was I disappointed?
Did it scar me for life?
Looking back, I believe my parents had to choose the best gift they could within the budget they had. In those days parents didn’t spend money they didn’t have on things just because we said we would die if we didn’t get them.
More and more it seems that we have forgotten what this holiday is really about – whether that’s a religious celebration for some people or for others an opportunity to gather with loved ones and participate in traditions.
Whether it’s Christmas or not, every day we have a chance to teach our children what is important in life. Pretty sure that doesn’t hatch out of a $200 egg.
If you succumbed to the holiday hype this year, go with it.
And then take a pause and think about next Christmas. Write down what you want to do differently next year. Hatch a new plan now. The best and most lasting gifts always come from the heart and not from a box.