Monday, July 1, 2013

A Conspiracy of Aunties

Aunt Florence
Photo credit: Sam Howzit
Emily of The Waiting was wishing that she could live la vida caveman, and give her kid nothing but a rock and a stick to play with. So that she wouldn't have all this stuff to put away.

And it got me thinking.

Because if her family is anything like mine (and my family is not *that* far from the average family--which does not bode well for the average family, but that's another story), if she had declared before this child's birth that they'd be embracing voluntary simplicity, her extended family would've still lavished the child with loads of toys at every opportunity.

It's the conspiracy of aunties.

I have a ginormous extended family. I'm the 5th oldest of 17 first cousins, and those 17 have produced 17+ kids of their own. We are legion. 

You would think that such a family would be all about the hand me downs. You would think that our baby showers would be nothing but a meal and a bunch of gift cards to places that sell diapers.

You would be wrong.

I any of my cousins dared to ask for diaper money in lieu of baby supplies, the aunties would each arrive with a gift card, and a gift or two because what kind of person goes to a baby shower without a present? How will the baby know we love them if their mother didn't have to unwrap a bunch of gifts? Preferably while wearing a hat fashioned from a paper plate and gift bows because why confine that indignity to bridal showers?

What kind of asshole deprives the aunties the joy of shopping for wee tiny baby things? Oh, you don't want to deplete the Earth's precious resources by getting new stuff when you can get it all used? After everything your aunts have done for you over the years? Why would you do that to them?

And God help the poor child if the entire family is invited to their birthday parties over the years. No five year old should have to open that many gifts at once. It's unhealthy. I remember one year, I gave my cousin's oldest daughter a stuffed animal from FAO Schwarz. It was maybe the 8th of 20 gifts she opened. She took off the wrapping paper, took one look at the toy, and set it aside as if to say, "I cannot deal with this right now."

Everyone was worried that my feelings would be hurt, but it was the funniest thing I'd seen all day. And I was right there with her. I was an adult and I'd been sitting in that room watching her open presents for too long.

And heaven forfend you suggest an alternative to all that wasteful wrapping paper. Apparently, it's a child's god-given right to tear paper and throw it aside on major holidays. The aunties will cut a bitch if you suggest depriving the kiddies of that satisfaction. I guess they figure that we got to do it when we were little, so they're not going to let us deprive the next generation of wasting a few trees.

The aunties stayed up all night wrapping gifts with wrapping paper and the cheap tape that splits all the time because they ran out of the good time around midnight. And you think you're going to get away with reusable boxes and bags?

Good luck with that.

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