nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “Christianity

Gendered Toys and the Target Tantrum

I’m probably going to regret posting this. Even so, here it is: I don’t understand the current hoopla surrounding Target stores.

Target recently announced that they’re going to stop gender-labeling certain departments of their stores—specifically Toys, Home and Entertainment. Instead of specifying which toys or bedding options are aimed at girls or boys, they’ll live in generic toy and bedding sections. Despite Target’s assurance that they’re not changing clothing departments, there is alarm and panic in some circles.

Why does it matter what I think? Well, for starters, this is something to which I’ve given a lot of thought over the years, not just as a knee-jerk reaction to the corporate announcement. Moreover, I’m seemingly in the minority on this when it comes to my demographic: the aforementioned “some circles.” I’m an unapologetic evangelical Christian and a conservative. I may lean a bit more towards the moderate end of the spectrum in some regards but I still identify as part of the political right. Assuming Trump isn’t the nominee—and there’s not a better 3rd-party candidate—I’ll likely default to voting Republican in the next presidential election.

While I’m sure there are other arguments to justify the Target outrage, these are the two I’ve heard most vehemently:
1. Franklin Graham (who I largely respect), among others, alleges that Target’s decision discredits God’s creation of two distinct genders, male and female.
2. Target’s move is said to be a slippery slope towards making everything (including clothing) gender-neutral, empowering an increasingly liberal world.

To the first, I genuinely fail to understand the direct correlation. Yes, I believe that God did create male and female for one another physically and emotionally. Beyond just the complementing anatomy, I believe He endowed each sex with certain qualities and characteristics. However, the fundamentals of said qualities and characteristics are obviously not distributed identically from person to person, regardless of their sex. It is those subtleties and differences that make each of us the “fearfully and wonderfully made” individuals who were knit together in our mothers’ wombs. [Or perhaps you believe that our lives are dictated by genetic coincidence, and that’s your prerogative.]

Which brings me to the decades I’ve had to consider this whole thing. I’m a girl, and I’ve got the plumbing, hormones and 32 years of living it to back me up. But I’m not exactly a girly-girl, and I never have been. I played with Barbie dolls, tinkered with fashion and swooned over boy bands, yet from my very earliest memories I know that I loved Superman, Ghosbusters and Star Wars. Those weren’t exactly marketed for girls in the ’80s…nor are they today.

There are girls who enjoy superheroes and trains and dinosaurs. For that matter, there are boys who like to play with stuffed animals and dolls rather than action figures and toy weapons. That doesn’t mean they will grow up to be transgendered or unable to fill traditional societal roles. And regardless of what they grow up to be, we as Christians are called to love. Period. You don’t have to agree with his or her lifestyle, but you must love him or her as a fellow human being created in God’s own image. I digress.

As an adult, it’s easy to justify buying toys or sheets from whichever store section you please. As a child, though, it can feel like running the gauntlet just to get a glimpse of your favorite characters on store shelves. No matter how much parents embrace and encourage a child’s enthusiasm, it can feel like you’ve crossed some invisible line that makes you inherently weird because you’re a little girl in the boys’ section (or vice versa). Even if you’re too young to read, you can see the signage that makes it impossibly clear that you’re out of your proverbial lane.

Now I’m not advocating we petition Star Wars to incorporate pink into their packaging (please, don’t use pink!) or demand that Barbie streamline to androgyny. They don’t even have to live side by side on the shelves—that wouldn’t make much sense from a merchandising standpoint anyway. But why as an overarching categorization do we have to label them ‘Boy Toys’ and ‘Girl Toys’?

There are plenty of stores that don’t differentiate, Kohl’s among them. They have a toy section. Plain and simple, TOYS. Know what else they have? Housewares and bedding that aren’t blatantly separated based on which sex “should” like the designs. I’ve not heard any complaints about/threats to boycott Kohl’s nor TJ Maxx/Marshalls, which merchandises in the same way. So why the outrage over Target; is the problem that they were overt in informing us about the changes? We petition for transparency then protest when we get it.

To the second point, it’s true that small moves and counter-moves can eventually culminate in big shifts. And maybe the end-game for places like Target is to ultimately shift culture in favor of more European, post-Christian norms and mores. I’m not one of their executives, but this feels like a somewhat paltry move if that’s the goal. More likely, I suspect they just see dollar signs and ebb with the tide of money.

I do think Christians people in general need to be cognizant of what’s going on with society. And, by all means, talk with your wallet and support the companies that you feel best represent your values.

For me personally, I see a lot of the other things happening in our world today that cause more distress than signage in a toy section or home goods. I sincerely don’t understand how this is the best battle to wage…let alone the right hill to die on.


Little Reminders

In a few months, I’ll celebrate 6 years of working in Creative at Hallmark Cards. Not long after I started, there were boxes and boxes of some plastic-y sleeve thingies for free. I didn’t know what they were, I didn’t know what I’d do with them but I knew they were free, and that was enough for me. I am, above all else, a bargain hunter and pack rat.

In all fairness, I was also working part-time at the library and thought we might be able to use them for crafts. Yes, that was justification.

Anyway, I kept a handful of the plastic-y sleeve thingies (PSTs) for myself in the event I had a keen idea one day. I happened across them in a box last week; the planets aligned and BAM! my keen idea hit.

Most of my Star Wars toys came from garage sales and thrift stores when I was a kid. I did, however, get some straight off the pegs at the toy store—my mom had the forethought to save the cardbacks for those figures. Most are worn from handling or covered in clearance stickers, some suffered from an overly excited little girl ripping off the blister packaging to get to the toy and one apparently served as a notepad for said little girl (I scrawled my name across it). They’re in pretty rough shape, but I absolutely love them.

The PSTs looked like they might be a good fit as cardback protectors, so I gave it a shot. Alas, they weren’t a good fit… They were PERFECT!

As I worked my way through the stack of cardbacks, I grew increasingly concerned that I would run out of PSTs. The library recently purged a lot of stuff, so I was certain I wouldn’t be able to replenish my supply there. I pondered how I might post a request on the want-ads at work: “WANTED, plastic-y sleeve thingies that we had here 5 years ago.”

Worry occupied my mind as I slipped the cardbacks into the PSTs. Soon I realized there weren’t any cardbacks left. There weren’t any PSTs left either. I had kept the exact number that I needed—not one more, not one less. That number, in case you’re wondering, was 24 (which also happens to be one of my favorite Switchfoot songs).

Your world view might tell you this was a brilliant case of coincidence, kismet, a stroke of good fortune. For me, it was also a reminder that God provides for even the smallest of concerns.

PST


Simply Sentimental

If you’re a frequent visitor to this establishment, you know that I’m smitten with snark. Today, though, I’m trading that for sentimentality. Savor it, friends.

Each week our company intranet highlights articles that call attention to the business. One such post in June came from the Edmond Sun by way of a weekly column called “As I See It” (the actual post was titled ‘Some Birthdays Outdo Others’). I enjoyed the writing so much that I decided to search
the website for other pieces by the author, one Marjorie Anderson. The more I read, the more I was convinced this delightful woman needed to have a published anthology of her wit and wisdom…
and so, I emailed the Sun‘s editor to offer my suggestion and express praises for a job well done.
The kind editor put me in touch directly with Mrs. Anderson, thus sparking a fast e-pen-pal friendship.

MA has several decades of life experience on me but I feel like we’re very much cut from the same cloth; it all goes back to my being an old soul, I suppose. She regales me with stories of her current adventures with dog Su and of days past, offers insights on a host of matters and obliges my never-ending questioning. We also share a love of cute animal videos. As an aside, you can find her books (This End Up and A Patchwork Sampler) on Amazon, and I highly suggest that you do!

This week, MA gave me a sneak peek of her Christmas column. Her lovely memories made me think about my own “glittering” Christmas recollections. I shared the following with her, so I’ll share them with you too!

I have a hard time pinpointing my favorite Christmases past. My dad was always snapping photos, so I sometimes wonder how many of my memories are actually memories and how many are just things that I think I remember from having seen the photographs all these years.

Mostly I remember a blur of decorations and gifts. Far too many gifts, really. But there is one year that stands out: Christmas 1989 if I had to guess (since I think I was in 1st grade at the time). Among the whirlwind of gifts was a musical jewelry box. It wasn’t anything special in hindsight, just some laminated chipboard in the shape of a circus train car. Regardless, I remember focusing on it that evening as my mom tucked me in and we said our bedtime prayers. For whatever reason, looking at it made me sob. I thought of all the beautiful gifts I’d received and realized, probably for the first time, that there were other little children who had nothing. There are no pictures of that moment, so I am certain it’s a memory.

angelAnother “glittering” moment for me is one that I get to re-live each year as I decorate my Christmas tree. In 1990 or ’91, I received a package in the mail from my great-grandmother in Texas. It contained the yearly check that she sent for my parents to buy me a pretty new Christmas dress (another came each Easter) and a little seashell angel ornament that she had picked up on a trip with my great-aunt and –uncle. Every year, it hangs prominently near the top of my tree though it’s probably one of the ugliest things I own. Its little mop of thinning white curls reminds me so much of my dear
Great-Mamaw.

Both of my grandmothers passed before I turned 8,
but Great-Mamaw was with us until my freshman year of high school. I was especially fortunate in that we saw her somewhat frequently despite the vast distance between Granbury, TX, and our home in Missouri. We visited Granbury once or twice a year, and she lived with us for weeks or months at a time while Uncle Dale and Aunt Martha (who passed away this year) traveled around the country.

My Christmas tree also boasts her handmade, crafted drum ornaments. Great-Mamaw’s arthritis kept her from doing much crafting in her later years, but I did get one last ornament that she made at the nursing home towards the end of her lifetime. The little felt mouse looked more like a preschool craft but it came to me with a stack of quarters from her bingo winnings. The mouse’s googly eyes have long since fallen off, but it still touches my heart. Each time I see it, I’m reminded that Great-Mamaw was thinking of me even as her pain was great in those last months.

That’s the point of Christmas, isn’t it?! At the risk of sounding preachy, I feel compelled to mention this: God was thinking of us even as He felt the pain of sending His Son from Heaven down to earth to live among us. Jesus, the namesake of Christmas, is the greatest gift God could have given us. Not only was He the greatest gift at the time of His birth, He is still the greatest gift. It was Jesus who sacrificed Himself for our sins and overcame the power of the grave to afford us the gift of life abundant. Now that is a reason to celebrate!


Hunting Mushrooms

This is still May, right?! Like most of America’s Heartland, we’ve had snow over the last few days. Great weather for watching Star Wars movies, not so good for 5k training—I’m not feeling terribly confident about Saturday’s impending event.

At any rate, it’s about time for an Uncle Pete update. This time around, I’m sharing bits of a message my mom sent to her coworkers [I’ve included a few notes]…

{thanks for the pic, Missie}

I come from a family with a LONG history of mushroom hunting. Every spring, my parents would pair us up [4 sisters], grab some bags and a sturdy stick (in case of snakes) and head into the woods. In the olden days, when I was just a small sprout myself, we would have family reunions where we would go find morels, pick some “greens” and have a feast. Some years we found many, some years few. My mom once found a 12-lb morel—she nearly fainted.

Morels only come up in the spring and only last for a few days. The conditions must be just right; they need warm, damp soil with lots of decomposed plant material. Kind of sounds like a science lesson.

When Pete married my sister [my aunt Sherry], my dad spent hours with him, teaching him how to find the best places for those yummy gems. Pete hates eating mushrooms of any kind, but the hunt draws him to the woods every spring… He actually starts walking the treadmill in February to be in shape for the days when the weather turns warm and he can head out. He spends hours walking to find the best spots, brings home his bounty, and then doesn’t consume even one.

Pete started walking the treadmill again this year; it was good to see the old Pete back again. But it took too long for the warm days to come, the cancer in his bones is starting to flare up and walking is becoming difficult.

Life is kind of like a small mushroom. With the right conditions, it grows quickly and flourishes. But its season is short. Enjoy it and share it with the ones you love.

God put us together for a reason. We’ve been walking on the treadmill of prayer together for a while, preparing for what lies ahead. There will be some days we’ll need walking shoes and some days we’ll need wading boots, but now we’re in shape to walk with those friends and families who need us. And we just might find more than a few blessings along the way.


Easter (and a Little Nod to Zombies)

Like every holiday steeped in religious tradition, Easter means many things to many people. For me, it has always been about two things: Jesus and family.

I find deep satisfaction in observing the original intent of the holiday. It’s easy to go about my day-to-day life praying to a living, loving God who provides for my needs. In the throes of the rat race, though, I don’t make as much time as I’d like to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice and celebrate His resurrection. The Easter season presents a reminder for me to be deliberate about it.

Superman Duds on the Easter Egg Hunt

(egg hunt on the farm)

Outside of the Sunday morning services, festivities include gathering together with family. For as long as I can remember, we’ve enjoyed a delicious supper and time coloring eggs before “hunting” them. When I was little, the best times were on my grandparents’ farm.

The romanticized images dancing through my memory include warm sun rays and my little legs carrying me as fast as they could to try to pick up the brightly colored eggs before my cousins laid siege on them. After the hunt (which occasionally included an egg getting lodged in a car’s tail pipe), we all sat on the deck joking and laughing while everyone peeled and ate the hard-boiled eggs. I’ll never forget my Uncle Pete perched up on the railing, a wide smile stretched across his face.

These days, the egg-hunting activities are hosted by my in-laws. Instead of dashing around the yard in the daylight, we don headlamps and flashlights for an evening hunt. With pillowcases pinned to our belt loops, we strategize and work as quickly as possible to clear the area…knocking each other down when necessary. Plastic eggs stand in for real ones, each stuffed with candy, coins or a numbered slip of paper that corresponds with a prize. Said prizes oftentimes include snacks from a warehouse club or household supplies like soap and paper towels—we don’t have to go to the store for weeks!

I’m still not sure what great significance there is in searching for hidden eggs; maybe it’s supposed to be like Mary Magdalene and Mother Mary going to Jesus’ tomb and finding it empty. I’m sure the Google machine could give us some great insights.
That aside, Easter is a symbolic time of new beginnings, and I’m grateful that I get to spend mine with so many people I love.

Bonus! The season finale of The Walking Dead also happens to be this Sunday night. A show about zombies airing on the day set aside to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection…I see what you did there, AMC. 😉