Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Giving, Princess-Style

Lately Emma is all about being a princess. Is there some sort of latent princess chip that gets activated in every little girl as soon as she turns four? If so, I think it was probably installed by Disney. It is a chicken or the egg thing: did the Disney Princess marketing machine create this passion for princesses or are they just tapping into something that is innate in little girls? Is it nature or nurture that results in a full-on case of princess obsession? These are the things I think about.

A few days ago we were getting ready to visit a friend of Emma and Charlie’s who was in the hospital. It was cold and rainy outside and already starting to get dark at 3:45. I was happily working away in my kitchen on a meal to take to the hospital with us. Emma was carefully gluing plastic jewels on a card to take to her friend. Charlie was upstairs having one of his all-time best naps. Since we were at home doing all this stuff, it can be assumed that Emma was wearing a princess costume. She puts on her princess costume in the morning, before breakfast, before school clothes. When she gets home from school or ballet class or whatever outing we’ve done that morning, she peels off her clothes and immediately puts on a princess costume as soon as we walk in the door.

I told Emma that we needed to think of a present that we could take her friend to help her feel better. Emma disappeared for a while and then came back with her favorite princess crown—a sparkly marabou number that’s a little bit boudoir and a little bit princess. She said that she was sure the princess crown would help her friend feel better. “That’s your favorite crown,” I said. “Are you sure you want to give it away?” I was like the little devil on Emma’s shoulder saying, come on, you don’t want to give away something you love! Think of yourself first! Emma simply replied, “That’s what God wants.” Well, how can you argue with that?

So, this got me thinking about giving and holiday shopping and what makes something a good gift. Does God want me to buy things on sale? To buy things until I can’t afford to pay my rent? To give away my favorite things Oprah-style? When it comes to Christmas presents, what does God want?

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea…Emma has not perfected this giving thing. Just yesterday we were out shopping for her cousin, but she had no interest in picking out other people's gifts. She had her eye on a rolling princess suitcase. She was rolling it all over the store while I was busy trying to keep an eye on her and Charlie and actually try to do some shopping. We had quite the showdown when I made it clear to her that we would not be taking home a princess suitcase that day. Somehow I won. Emma surrendered the suitcase and I did not have to do the walk of shame out of the store with a screaming kid under my arm. The suitcase is one of those really tacky pink and purple guys with the major Disney princesses displayed coquettishly on the front. It really does offend my sense of good taste and decency. It is definitely not what I want her to have for Christmas. But you know what? I can’t wait to buy that princess suitcase for her. The look of pure joy on her face will be better than any gift I can imagine receiving this Christmas. I will try to remember that every time I see those princesses go rolling by. I think that's what God wants.


Anonymous said...

I've been watching reruns of "Sex in the City" this week with Cannon gone, and I'm thinking you're like the Carrie Bradshaw of the mommy set. Your voice has a similar resonance and I love it. In SITC it's what made us sit and watch 5 episodes in a row when we used to get it on Netflix. With your writing, I get to the end of the post, and think "Rats! When's the next installment?!"

Did Emma really give away her favorite crown? That's amazing. What compassion. Good job!

Can't wait to see you all in 3 1/2 weeks!


Ramona said...

I loved this post. I never let Gillian buy clothing with characters on them, but last week I bought Gillian a pair of Hello Kitty sneakers. I loved hearing her sweetly talk about how much she likes them. They look great with her plain purple and brown backpack she takes to school everyday (I made a rule when we were shopping for backpacks that it had to be plain) :).

Ramona said...

I loved this post! I never let Gillian choose new clothes with characters on them, except for underwear... but I let her choose a pair of Hello Kitty sneakers last week at Target. I have loved hearing her sweetly talking about how much she likes her new shoes :).

~Gretchen~ said...

"Is there some sort of latent princess chip that gets activated in every little girl as soon as she turns four?"

Yes. Except Melody's was activated early, around 2.5.

Ann gave me the link to your blog this morning. Look forward to it!