Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Second-Hand Santa

From the bean of Green Bean.

After reading the dictates of the new sustainable Santa, I'd like to say that we are fastidiously following each directive. I'd like to say that my children's handmade stockings (that at least is true) will hold only handmade toys, crafted from reclaimed fabric, vintage buttons and reforested wood (okay, we gave the wood trains last year).

But I can't.

I really want to save handmade toys. Really, I do. But my children have reached an age when a handmade toy, beautiful and thoughtfully crafted, won't quite cut the mustard. They yearn for the dreaded plasticrap.

Aren't the holidays a time where at least wish or two can be granted, though?

They can with the help of Second-Hand Santa.

With his help, there will be a transformer in my son's stocking. A hand-me-down one passed on to us when my best friend and her family moved out of the country last month. So while it is plasticrap, it is exactly what he wanted and has a carbon footprint of, approximately, zero.

There will also be a giant, oft-reused fabric bag full of used Legos under the tree. The Legos came from a friend, who rounded them up from another friend, to thank me for driving her son to school once a week. Once opened, the new-to-us Legos will be added to the bin of other hand-me-down Legos that a former food coop member gave us a few months back. Sound like a lot of Legos? Like a lot of plasticrap? Yes. But, as every six year old boy knows, you can not have too many Legos. And really, are Legos that bad? Are the hours of creative building really wrong? What if, in a few years, we pass them on to yet another family who gives their child a gift from Second-Hand Santa?

As my good friend, Arduous, and I discussed last week, the beauty of second hand is that there is no first hand guilt. Owning second hand items even comes with a bit of pride because those items found a home with you instead of the landfill. Moreover, Second-Hand Santa saved so much money going used, that he can afford to give a budding artist things like 100% recycled paper and watercolor pencils made from reforested wood to go along with the plasticrap.

And that is something to celebrate.

Happy holidays from the bean pod.


Joyce said...

Great ideas! And no, you can't have enough legos, ever. We've still got three cabinets full fo them, and believe it or not, our adult sons will still get them out and play on the floor with them, when they get together. I'm sure the grandchildren will get plenty of use out of them eventually.

Green Resolutions said...

Yes, great ideas! Our son will soon be the proud owner of a wooden train set purchased second-hand. And I'm quite proud of the purchase, too. My only worry now is the use of batteries in a couple of the engines. And all of his Mega blocks and Duplo blocks have been hand-me-downs. We're lucky to have several sources of hand-me-downs.

Donna said...

I think there should be special dispensation for legos! We're getting more, and I'm pretty sure Grandma didn't buy them 2nd hand, but when the preschooler outgrows them (like when he's 30-something), we'll pass them on to another family. :)

I'm at least happy to report that we didn't buy one single toy from Toys R Us or the mall!

Melinda said...

I love the idea of a Second-Hand Santa!! I always try to give thrift-store gifts whenever I can. I love their added history, and the unique solutions it makes me think about. Somehow, it makes the gifts feel more personal.

ruchi aka arduous said...

Oh man, I miss legos!! I could play with some right now!! Maybe I should tell Santa ASAP.

Glenda said...

One of my SILs specifically requested hand-me-down toys and video games for her two kiddos, from their older cousins (including my son). My son takes really good care of his stuff, so that makes handing things down such a nice option. Sadly, he and I had done such a good job thruout this year of sorting thru unwanted toys and taking them to Goodwill that we had nothing to hand down to his cousins. In 2009, rather than taking stuff to Goodwill when we "spring clean", we'll stash it all in a "potential gifts" box.

crstn85 said...

As much as we wish to avoid plastic, sometimes it is really useful. My parents are storing all my legos for when I have kids in the basement, which happened to flood last time I was home. But you know what? Legos are waterproof. While a lot of items got ruined, these toys are superbly durable and will be around in our life for a long time to come. We just have to make sure they don't get sent to the landfill, since they'd last forever there as well.

Anonymous said...

"the beauty of second hand is that there is no first hand guilt."

Absolutely! And my office mate has no idea that the beautiful dragonfly cup and saucer I gave her today came from the thrift store down the street. It's exactly the kind of present she likes (she collects dragonfly knick knacks) and I don't have to feel guilty about buying new stuff.

Good thing she doesn't read this blog.

Anonymous said...

no, you can NEVER have enough legos. there are legos under the bed, legos on the book shelf, legos in the vacuum and yes..there may even be a lego or two inside the dog. legos are where imagination becomes reality. my son designs and builds for hours and hours. flying machines, wind powered cars and even a playhouse for his sister's dolls (ok, fine.. it was a prison. his lego men incarcerated her fairy dolls for being annoying) but somewhere in all of that building my budding architect, or engineer, or general all around good guy is building memories he'll share with his kids.
you can never have too many legos.

Anonymous said...

If you didn't have new legos, what would you vacuum up next week?

I still have mine from when I was a kid. Biggest hit ever. Although I hate to think of them as vintage. weep weep

Electronic Goose said...

Yay for Secondhand Santa! I requested gifts only from him ... well, except for the compostable gdiaper refills.

Green Bean said...

Joyce: Good to know. Perhaps we won't be passing these legos on to a new family so much as tucking them away for the boys to play with the rest of their lives. :)

Green Resolutions: Aren't hand-me-downs the best! As to the batteries, if you use rechargeable, there's less guilt. Congrats on the wooden train score. As the mother of two boys, I understand how HUGE that it.

Donna: Ahhh, I love that. A special dispensation for Legos. You are right. And, I, like you am happy to report that the gifts that were purchased new came from independent retailers.

Melinda: You are so right. They aren't just Legos or a transformer. There is special history there when you go used - perhaps the adventure at a thrift store or garage sale or the memories from a hand me down. Buying used is a win, win, win situation.

Ruchi: You'd have to move pretty quick to get to Santa, ahem. That's what I told my oldest yesterday. When I explained that Christmas was just two days away, he jumped up and announced "I need to make my list." Oh no, Santa's already got everything packed up!!

Glenda: We're doing a used toy exchange with my nieces this year and we, like you, were a bit too thorough in cleaning out the toys. I think keeping a "possible gifts" box in the garage for well cared for toys is the way to go.

crstn85: You are so right. Legos are nothing if not durable. I occasionally dig one up in the back yard and Lord knows how long its been there. Still, wash off the dirt and its good as new.

Beth: How great is buying used! It really is the answer to almost any eco-guilt. Congrats to you on finding the perfect gift the perfect way.

Blonde: Jail? That's is too funny! I'm so with you. When my boys build with their Legos, I feel like I'm watching major learning and creativity going on. An architect? A contractor? An engineer? Who knows but it is wonderful.

Domestic Accident: I wish I still had mine. I had THE coolest hospital set. And I refuse to think of them as vintage. I'm not that old. Am I?

Goose: Isn't Second-Hand Santa the very best?!? Almost everything my boys got last year was used. A huge portion this year is used. Almost every article of clothing I own is used. Love it!

Green & Clean Mom said...

I need to do better with shopping second hand. These are some good ideas and reminders. A great resolution perhaps?

Crunchy Christian Mom said...

Legos are most definitely THE exception to the term "plasticrap." I always feel better knowing that at least they're not made in China, and they will likely be loved for generations.

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