December 2, 2012

Throwback Christmas presents

Black Friday shopping across the country this year was marred by stampedes, bludgeonings and gunfire.

All in the name of the Christmas spirit and in hopes of getting 30 percent off “Just Dance 4.”

Our family stayed in this year, instead browsing — but not buying — during the Cyber Monday sales.

Our children, however, are well aware of the impending holiday and have begun the badgering process. Not surprisingly, virtually everything they want is electronic: tablets, cell phones, iPods, video games.

Unfortunately, research has shown that too much time staring at screens can destroy brain cells in giant, irreplaceable bunches. Also, many of these electronic items are expensive budget-busters in a time of economic turmoil.

The question has been asked a million times, but is it really the spirit of Christmas to spend more money than you can afford on an array of gifts your children will break or forget about within two weeks?

Don’t tell my children — I want to see the surprise on their faces — but my wife and I have decided to have a holiday that hearkens back to the very first Christmas, when the infant Jesus was born in a humble manger … and, um, was immediately showered with gold and expensive scents and resins from wealthy strangers.

I implore other parents to follow our lead. Not just because it will will save you money — and will save our children from being the only ones ridiculed in school after the Christmas break — but because it’s the right thing to do.

Here are some practical suggestions of gifts you can give your children that will keep them from being turned into zombies by electronic screens:

Library Card: Think of it as the world’s thinnest, lightest Kindle. Read unlimited books for free, with pages you can actually touch (and occasionally write on). Promise your child an electronic book reader as soon as they finish all the books they can get with the library card.

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