The presents have been unwrapped, the new year celebrated, and the holiday treats devoured. Now what? For many folks, the post-holiday season appears bleak, with only frigid weather and sunless days stretching out over the weeks ahead. But for some, the fun has only begun. If you’re an avid skier, snowboarder, or snowmobiler, you’ve just started enjoying the season and delighting in fresh white blankets of snow. Perhaps you’ve even pulled out your snowshoes or the old Sno Bronco.
In the big picture of play, all toys have a purpose: they teach physical and mental skills, develop young imaginations, and encourage kids to think in new ways. However one category of toys has puzzled me for years: housekeeping toys. The term seems like an oxymoron. I love a well-cooked meal, nicely laundered and pressed clothes, and a thoroughly cleaned house as much as the next neatnik, but housekeeping as play?
What will your life look like a year from now? Most of us are intrigued—just a bit—to know what the future holds for us, curious about how our careers, relationships, or finances will go. We’re certainly not the first to wonder about such things, nor will we be the last. For centuries, people of all cultures have pondered the same questions and devised a variety of ways to predict the answers. Some scholars believe the origins of fortune telling can be traced to 14th-century gypsies, while others believe the roots of divination and prophecy run much deeper.
Watching the Emmy Awards recently turned my thoughts to the upcoming 2012 induction of new toys into the National Toy Hall of Fame on November 15. Although our induction ceremony doesn’t boast television stars, glittery evening gowns, or tearful acceptance speeches, it nevertheless offers suspense leading up to bestowing a significant honor on two (or sometimes three) deserving winners. No one goes away with an impressive trophy for their mantel, but classic toys receive their moment in the spotlight.
Among my childhood toys, I cherished none more than my teddy bear. According to the family story, when I was six months old, my mother and grandfather were shopping with me in a department store. As we walked past a display of teddy bears, my mother picked one up and showed it to me. “Look Megan,” my mother said sweetly. With as much fascination as a baby could muster, my wide-eyed awe let her know that I’d fallen under the spell of the fluffy plush toy. Of course, my mother didn’t have the heart to put it back on the shelf. Sale made; favorite toy acquired.
When I wrote my first blog for The Strong more than a year ago, I talked about nostalgia—so it seems appropriate that I should come full circle and take some time to reflect back on my time at the museum before heading off to a new job in a new city. I’ve learned a great deal in the last two years. I can safely handle artifacts and identify French fashion doll manufacturers.