I have a goddaughter whom I adore even when she's in a bad mood and doesn't want to talk to me on the phone. She's 2 1/2. Now that she is of an age where she has manual dexterity, shopping is way more fun. For her second birthday I got her playdoh!
I discovered that due to my hate and distrust of the United States Postal Service, it was far easier to ask lovely French companies to send her gifts rather than asking lovely American companies to send me gifts which I would then be responsible for sending her. Also, it's good for the environment. See, honey, I care about the future of the earth you will inhabit. And the global marketplace makes it entirely reasonable to find playdoh in France as easily as in America. Generally through the magic of amazon.fr - just like real amazon, but with funny words.
Now my little princess enjoys art, so I want to naturally buy her as many art supplies as she could conceivably use in a lifetime - in fact Martha Stewart turned me on to a colored pencil of the month club that I might enroll her in down the road. For the time being, though, I was content to ship her the de rigueur 64-piece box of crayola crayons. You had them, I had them, if devoted partner is reading, they still make an awesome stocking stuffer (see also colored-pencil-of-the-month club). So naturally, this would be something we Americans would be eager to share with the world. The perfect embodiment of our culture: 64 unique crayons (and yes, I know that the intrepid searcher can find boxes of 96 and dare I believe 128 colors - and yes, devoted partner, these would make even awesomer stocking stuffers). Sure you can live a fulfilling life knowing only one shade of red, but is it really living?
So you can imagine my disappointment at the crypto-socialists running amazon.fr that they do not deem 64 (or 96 or 128) colored crayons to be an item worth stocking! Yes, you can draw a perfectly decent picture with 16 colors, but you can be entertained from the time you are 2 until the time you are, for argument's sake, 32 with 64 colors. How else will she learn about the differences between orange-red and red-orange; the delights of burnt umber and sepia; the surprising wonderfulness of cornflower? While I realize that crayola probably no longer produces Indian Red or Flesh, I feel certain they still have apricot and lilac and sea green - these are important colors.
I've been to France a lot of times and I know that France is made up of far more than 16 colors. So, my darling C, until the next time we meet, when you can be sure I will have packed a true, and correct, box of crayola crayons, you must be satisfied with the sad box of 16 that is being sent to you (and I think we made up for the poor art supply showing with the Duplo); while you wait, allow me to whet your appetite:
Blue Green is the color of the sea near where Great Grandma lives
Violet Red is the color of the little flowers by the side of the road
Sea Green is the color of the cardigan you wore to your bapteme civile
|From Dijon, June 2008|
So while my box of many crayons might be indicative of the conspicuous consumption endemic to my culture, I consider it a part of childhood no philosophy should repress. And a note to mom and dad: don't worry, the markers are Ultra Washable!