As I write this, the boy is headed off to school with his collection of Valentines for the kids in his second-grade class. We've finally moved beyond SpongeBob, and this time he's handing out sports-themed foldover cards that come with a little temporary tattoo tucked onto the front. Last night, he sat at the dining room table with the list of names, and filled in the "To" and "From" spaces, fixing the valentines closed with heart-shaped stickers. He'll come home with a haul of cards, and if this year is like every other, a few holiday treat bags assembled by parents who are obviously more generous and ambitious than me.
Things being what they are today, no longer are the bags stuffed with candy. Thanks to dollar stores, the front aisles at Target, and retailers like Oriental Trading, sugary treats take second fiddle to other, non-caloric loot. (A similar phenomenon happens with Easter baskets, which I wrote about last year for the Inquirer but can't find online right now. Anyway.)
Obviously whatever candy there is inside those goody bag disappears first. And soon enough, these being cheap import trinkets, the little puzzles, yo-yos and mini kaleidoscopes are cast off like so much Happy Meal detritus, turning up on the floor of the car or at the bottom of the toy box.
A quick patrol around the house this morning netted 28 decorated goody bag pencils (pictured above), from glittery orange with dancing skeletons from Halloween to the ones stamped with GOD IS SO GREAT! from a CCD something-or-other.
Yeah of course, pencils are a safe alternative to candy or McDonald's gift certificates that always end up lost before they're used. (Sorry, MaryRose!) And unlike those "relaxable dice," pencils probably won't end up sucked into the innards of your Dyson. But I beseech you, unless you're also giving out a pencil sharpener and a pack of Scantron forms in the the goody bags, please reconsider the pencils.
Next time, I beg you: Go with the wax lips.