In these challenging economic and environmental times, consider Kate’s reminder of the beauty of basement treasures:
“My toddler daughter and I recently visited the childhood home of a loved one, a house that has seen four children grow up and go off into their adult lives. As the first evening of our visit was growing a little late and my daughter was getting restless, our hostess knowingly suggested that we check out the basement, a virtual kid's utopia. Shelves of neatly packed toys and games, baskets of stuffed animals, cabinets of baby dolls and their clothes - all just waiting for a new little person to come along and play with them.
My daughter, wide-eyed, quickly narrowed in on the dolls, a tea set, and a plastic highchair, and was happily entertained through dinner and much of the next morning's brunch. She also was captivated by three vintage sets of Polly Pockets, which our friends kindly passed on to us. Different from today’s rubber-clothed Polly Pockets, the small, colorful clamshell-shaped toys hold tiny people and animals in even tinier domestic scenes. On the surface, the toys don't seem that immediately engaging - they don't flash or play music or vibrate - but my daughter was completely fascinated by the miniature worlds they hold, as have been other kids who have come to play since the Polly’s made the trip home with us.
The experience has inspired me to seek out other toys from my own childhood, and - recognizing that new and improved isn't always better - to share fun memories with my daughter.
Editor’s Note: We also recently received a basement treasure from my in-laws: a classic Brio wooden train set (see, for example this beginner Brio set) that my husband and his brother played with endlessly as kids. In addition to loving natural wooden toys in general, I also was touched to see that the set included several pieces hand carved and dated (1978) by Laurel’s great-grandfather – crossed track pieces and little connectors to increase building options, and even a foot-long tracked tunnel with a thick piece of bark perfectly fit to decorate the top.
The pieces aren’t as perfect and smooth as the professionally manufactured ones, but the little bumps and catches don’t bother Laurel one bit. And I love that the trains not only represent a very welcome form of recycling, but also create a means for connection across generations. I feel grateful that we’re able to enjoy this basement treasure, and also share photos of and conversations about this now multigenerational toy with Laurel’s 89-year-old great-grandfather.