Thursday, January 05, 2006

#105 - The Torture of Christmas

I have found what appears to be a common thread among parents who just suffered through this past Christmas. I realize that "suffered" may be a somewhat strong term, but in one sense I was right there suffering along with them.

The statement I've seen (and which, by the way, I was channeling in my own conversations with Mrs. Woody) is, "there must be a special place in <insert netherworld of choice> for whatever idiot invented the current methods of securing toys in their packaging." The scenario is always the same. Mom and/or Dad wrap the gifts while still in their original packaging for the simple reason that they're easier to wrap that way. Then on Christmas day the kids are in that "iwannaplaywithitNOW" mode, and Mom and/or Dad find themselves trying to defeat about a thousand twistie ties, elastics, tape, and other obstacles, all the while attempting to not break the toy before Junior does.

Ostensibly these contraptions were invented as a direct response to thievery. Those of us who grew up with the phrase, "Attention, K-Mart Shoppers...!" will have vivid memories of perusing the toy aisles and noting just how many toys had been rifled. Kids (and even parents) who discovered missing items or had managed to break something right out of the box figured it was a cheap way to keep their play set intact. It actually got to the point that, come Christmas shopping season, you congratulated yourself for finding anything actually intact before you bought it. Since then, we find dolls held down by more twist ties than you would find in a box of 100 garbage bags, while the accessories are encased in lethal plastic for your convenience.

I believe we're actually looking at something that has practical application for national defense. Just think what might happen if AK-47s were shipped in the same molded plastic packaging that your kid's Barbie comes in. The Jihadists would probably reach Paradise a bit quicker than usual after shredding themselves on the sharp plastic edges. By the time they detach the gun from 92 twistie ties that were conveniently glued to the cardboard, and get through the assembly instructions helpfully translated into English by Japanese exchange students ("Please to attaching the assembling trigger to the lower side of a barrel as shows in the figure 8 of a next page."), the poor kid would have expired from loss of blood.

In fairness I must admit that I only had two toys this year that caused that much grief. Santa had given the Woodyettes exactly what they'd requested. One wanted the latest in interactive dolls, while the other requested a trainable puppy (this would have to be a toy!), each requiring more batteries than your average nuclear submarine. Each one was encased in a box surrounded by more security than Ft. Knox. My wounds have healed now, and the Woodyettes have had hours of fun arguing over whose turn it is to play with the doll. The puppy was essentially a non-entity until Daddy replaced the wimpy Energizer® batteries with good ol' Duracells® last night.

Since convincing Homeland Security to use this technology seems unlikely, I guess I have to come up with a more creative approach. My current plan involves having the inventors of toy packaging being forced to endure the same savant traffic planners who time our traffic lights here in Orange County. If the packagers wish to file a complaint, they can submit their whines using a special form provided for that purpose. I'll even provide the pen. Of course, they'll have to break it out of its plastic package...

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