That Shopping Time of Year

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I don’t mind (too much) admitting to you that I am a shopper. Now, I am not a shopper in a league with my oldest sister. She (and her daughters) could spend an entire day at a mall that catered to only things they weren’t interested in and would still come home loaded down with packages. This is why my brother-in-law has already retired from the military and is eligible for retirement from another career but continues to work.

I, on the other hand, can shop for quite a long time if the shops available are things I am interested in (which is pretty much just books, electronics, or anything edible). And sometimes toys. I don’t buy toys anymore (sadly, my sons have outgrown toys), but I still get a kick out of looking around the toy department for a few minutes, imagining which ones I would have wanted as a child.

It’s strange to me, though, that I have basically outgrown toys. This is also coming as a surprise to those who have been in my office, as it is filled with Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang (and a few bits of Indiana Jones). I don’t play with those toys, I just have never gotten rid of them.

I can remember as a child when I would play for hours with toys. I especially liked this one toy called “Big Jim”. He was, essentially, a non-militaristic “G.I. Joe”. He came with mountain-climbing gear or sports equipment and his vehicles tended toward the 4WD spectrum. And when you flexed his arm, his muscles got big. He even had this metal band you could wrap around his arm and, when you flexed his muscle, the ensuing bulge would pop the metal band off (possibly injuring you in the eye). This mirrored real life in some way I am not familiar with. He also had a button in his back. If you pushed it, you could make his right arm go up and down. Depending on how you had his arm positioned to begin with, he could either break a fake board (like a karate chop) or throw a little football with at least as much accuracy as Tony Romo.

So, hour after hour—either alone or with friends—I would send Big Jim and his buddies (all named Big Jim, also)—on adventures. They would rescue one another from the creek behind my house (never asking why, even after the fifteenth rescue of the day), fly their jumbo/rescue/adventure jet all over my house, and chop boards like crazed woodchucks. They carried on manly conversations with one another, plotted … plots, and did all sorts of things.

And then, one day, something had changed. I didn’t really notice it until my own boys were playing (sometimes with the box of “Big Jim” stuff). As I watched and listened to them, making up adventures of their own, I came to the somewhat sad revelation that my imagination no longer worked that way. Now, I don’t necessarily lament the fact that I—as a grown man (as far as you know)—no longer felt the urge to sit on the floor and provide the voice for plastic, but I do feel like a part of my life went away and I don’t know why.

So now, as I write this, I’m getting offers over the ‘net about the great “Holidays Deals” that I should participate in. I take a look, and—as usual—what draws my attention most are the computers and TVs (don’t need new ones of either, but when did “need” become a factor?) and some of the books. I’m also getting ads for toys and they aren’t really interesting to me, even though I look. Nope, no interest at all—

A fully-posable 12-inch “Indiana Jones”?!?! I might have to get that. Imagine all the fun I could have with …