"" Writer's Wanderings: Toys Toys Toys

Monday, December 05, 2005

Toys Toys Toys

Christmas shopping is getting to be less fun for me. My own kids and their wives are far enough removed from my everyday life that I don't see the little things they need like I used to when they lived at home. (No, I'm not asking that they move back in.) Often they provide lists but that reduces the element of surprise even though it saves on returns after Christmas.

The grandchildren, however, offer a spot of delight in the holiday excursion to the mall and toy store. I envy the grandparents who get to shop at FAO Schwarz in NYC. When we visited there, we found a wonderland of awe and excitement. The first floor was filled with every kind and size of stuffed animal imaginable. The second floor had designer toys. As we neared the top of the escalator, we discovered the giant keyboard that Tom Hanks danced on in the movie Big. There were some accomplished young musicians dancing out tunes as onlookers watched in amazement.

Moving to the dolls department, we happened upon the nursery section. Behind a plexiglass window were hospital bassinets with lifesized baby dolls wrapped in blankets waiting for "mommies" to claim them as their own. The sales clerk for the area was dressed as a nurse and would retrieve a baby now and then for a perspective mother to hold.

In the action toys area, there was a bank of computers where kids of all ages could design a custom Hot Wheels car--color, body, detailing. We passed by wishing we had Tyler with us and found ourselves staring up at a giant dinosaur whose head swayed back and forth as it opened its mouth to roar. Beyond the prehistoric creature lay a wonderland of Legos--kits, pieces and parts of all sizes and colors, and huge buildings and creatures made of thousands of Legos.

We rounded another corner to discover a lifesized Barbie dollhouse that contained every Barbie and accessory made to delight the Barbie fans. I was truly feeling like a babe in toyland.

There were numerous stations along the way where toys were being demonstrated. I didn't realize how significant the demos were until the demonstrator of one toy asked if the buyer wished him to sign it. He was the inventor of the toy!

While Toys R Us was huge and carried every toy imaginable, FAO Schwarz was unique and truly made me feel like a kid again. I was wishing I'd brought an extra suitcase--but then one wouldn't have been enough to hold all I wanted. Just like a kid I wanted more than I needed.

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