So have you heard about the supply chain issues?
I caught a few rumblings on social media not long ago — “Things are stuck on ships in faraway places!” “There’s a microchip that everyone needs that no one can get!” — but as it appeared not to have an immediate bearing on my life, I made sure we were stocked up on toilet paper and moved on. (Because if we’ve learned one thing from COVID-19, it’s toilet paper.)
Then, during an otherwise pleasant weekend getaway in the hills of Pennsylvania, My Brother The Planner cornered me and asked if I’d started my Christmas shopping.
I gaped at him.
“Do you even know who I am?” I said.
Because my personal philosophy is a Christmas Eve with No Last-Minute Shopping Isn’t A Legit Christmas Eve At All.
“Well you’d better get started,” he said urgently. “Because all the toys are stuck on container ships in ports and if you don’t buy toys now, your kids might not get anything for Christmas.”
(Here are a few things you need to know about my brother: He is an engineer now wrapping up his PhD in stuff that is way over my head. He has the type of humor that masquerades as seriousness until he knows he’s got you. And he’s my little brother, so he knows how to push my buttons.)
I rolled my eyes.
“Well, last week I was at Big Box ‘r Us and they seemed to have plenty of Barbies, so I’m not going to stress,” I shot back.
“Suit yourself,” he said, then went back to scrolling through his news alerts. And I guess toy deals.
I may have heard him snicker.
But I couldn’t get his comments out of my head, so when we returned home I began researching “supply chain issues” to inform my decision about whether to begin shopping sooner than the week before Christmas or maybe just celebrate in May.
Sure enough, I found this quote in a Business Insider article, made by a retail consulting firm representative interviewed by the Financial Times:
“There will definitely be weeping children this holiday season.”
Well hey there, Harbinger of Holiday Depression. Thanks for that.
I read the article, paused for some post-read debriefing, and do you know what?
Unpopular opinion: I’m not super upset about this.
To be honest, the prospect of having to explain to my kids that toys are in short supply this Christmas, and people are still working hard and doing the best they can, and sometimes we can’t have everything we want, and I guess we’ll have to make do with less is A DREAM COME TRUE.
This is something we tell ourselves we’ll do every holiday season — “less is more” — but end up abandoning because of last-minute “Well how come Kid A has six items but Kid B only has five, and will Kid C realize that Item 3 is actually a lot more valuable than Kid A’s Item D?”.
This could be the opportunity we’ve been waiting for.
Maybe I opt not to finish my Christmas shopping in October, but take a breath and let this be the year we really learn how to make do with less.
Maybe we even do the “Little House on the Prairie” thing and exchange handmade gifts.
Maybe, if my kids weep at Christmas, we’ll use the tears as an opportunity to discuss how some kids only get a couple gifts every year — or none at all — and would be happy to have a roof over their heads. That might sound too “Little Match Girl” for some people, but I have to imagine it’s true.
So yes. I am OK with the toy supply chain being backed up if it means my kids have to realize that there’s more to Christmas than tearing through gifts so quickly you don’t remember half of what you got, or who it’s from.
And if, by some Christmas miracle, the supply chain comes untwisted before then? Great! See you on Christmas Eve, fellow procrastinators.
Abbey Roy is a mom of three girls who make every day an adventure. She writes to maintain her sanity. You can probably reach her at [email protected], but responses are structured around bedtimes and weekends.