Let’s get this out of the way first. This post will mostly be about Sylvanian families. This is because:
- I LOVE them
- They were the only toys I ever really got for Christmas
- I LOVE them
- One of my blogeagues has just been named as a ‘friend of Sylvanian’ families and has challenged me to a ‘I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours’ Sylvanian post
You can read about Sadhbh’s wonderful ambassador news here, but while I was reading I got to thinking about all the associations I have with these quaint little toys. And when I get to thinking all sorts of sparky things happen in my head and I come up with many (questionable) observations. Which you my dear reader, are subjected to.
So take a minute. And think about the toys you used to get. What did you veer towards in the toy book? What had you waking at 4am to dash down to the sitting room and decimate the packaging? What do your toy choices say about you? And did they teach you any lessons that you have brought with you into your adult life?
Using my Sylvanian Family experience here are four ways my Christmas toys affected the rest of my life. I’ll disperse pictures of these joy-inspired fur Gods throughout. Because why wouldn’t you?
- You learn the art of patience
Spare a thought for the children of today. Back in our day (old voice) Christmas didn’t kick in till, oh December or so, and even then the waiting was horrific. Every week seemed like a year, every day, like a month. Nowadays, with Christmas starting in October (eeeessshhh) the countdown must seem like a prison sentence for kiddies. Spending the days poring over the back pages of the Argos catalogue is one way of getting through the soul destroying countdown to
day you get your hands on the loot Christmas.
At some stage in my youthful life a Sylvanian Families catalogue appeared. This was a small booklet with pages and pages of the families laid out with their individual names and the accessories and toys that they lived in. Christians have the Bible. Muslims have the Quran. Sylvaniants have THE CATALOGUE.
I learned the art of patience but I also learned the art of study. I knew all the families, I knew all their names, I knew exactly what I was getting for the next three Christmas’. Because this was the 80s. There were no gifts mid-year.
2. You learn the pain of loss
I can still remember it. The missing-ness. The emptiness. The space in the box where the parts should be. It was a few days after Christmas and I was six. Santa had brought the caravan, occupied by the Badger family and pulled along by a little grey horse. I set up the caravan and laid out all the different parts. The cupboard. The stove. The blanky for the bed. But, search as I might, there a few pieces missing. Cups. Cutlery. A whole other cupboard. They weren’t in the box. They weren’t in the kitchen. They weren’t anywhere. In fact, they were never to be found.
“But Daddy,” I wailed after he had given up helping me to search for the missing parts. “What are you going to do about it?”
He laughed and explained that there was nothing he could do. If they were lost, they were lost. It was the first time I realised that Mammies and Daddies can’t fix everything. Sometimes balloons blow away. Sometimes little parts of Sylvanian Family toy sets get mistakenly thrown in the bin and are never to be found. Sometimes there is loss and that is life. (Still not over it).
3. You learn that not everyone is the same as you
When friends came over, we would set up my collection, carefully placing each item where it was meant to go. When we were all set up and playdate friend would want to actually start ‘playing’ with the toys, I would put a small hand on theirs and shake my head. These toys were too precious to play with – we should mostly just look. It was safer that way. What if something got broken? What if – something went MISSING? And so the playdate would cautiously reach for the Barbies, throwing their eyes up to heaven, wondering if their mother was coming to pick them up soon and take them away from this eight year old freak. But, my dedication to safety paid off. Every single one of my collection looks like the the day it came out of the box in the 1980s. It was just a matter of sacrificing a few lifelong friendships along the way. They had the craic with the Barbies and their Mr Frosty’s and their pogo sticks. But I had my Sylvanian Families. And still do.
4. You learn where your talents might lie
When I think about my family and friends and the toys they got for Christmas, I realise it indicated where their path in life might go. (This is not foolproof. I did not become a medal winning showjumper on a white Sindy horse. Nor a fashion jewellery designer) But Sylvanian Families do represent something I am still fascinated by and something that is still part of my life. They are replicas of miniature social historians, living an early 20th century life. I’m pretty sure the family names are weaving their way through the historical fiction I write. Do any of your toys relate to your adult interests? Sport? Mothering? Reading? Art? Bet there’s a few hairdressers out there who were gifted the grotesqueness of the hairy Barbie head. Am I correct??
So there you have it. While you’re choosing your gifts for your little childers this year, take a moment and think: where in life will this lead them? Could a science kit interest them in experiments? Could another football keep up their love for sport? Could those craft kits set them on a path to a future fashion business? Because you never know, do you?