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I Need This Toy and Will Be Miserable Until I Have It

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December 28, 2021 | by Emuna Braverman

We all have insatiable desires.

Although most catalogs have gone the way of the rotary phone and VHS tape recordings, there’s still the occasional one that shows up at our door. In general, they go straight from the mail box to the recycling bin (a little virtue signaling there) – unless of course there are small children in the house and a page with toys catches their eyes.

They are entranced. They are mesmerized. They just can’t tear their eyes away from it. They feel compelled to read it over and over and over again (if only they would review their homework with the same eagerness). They just can’t seem to put it down.

But that’s not the worst of it. Now there’s a whole list of toys they can’t live without. Before they saw this flyer, they were content. There was nothing they needed. They had enough puzzles, books, building toys and games to keep them satisfied for hours. Not to mention the outdoor options. Now, after perusing the advert, studiously evaluating and committing to memory each item, they’ve decided that there are many toys they simply must have. And the incessant, relentless pestering to their parents begins.

They need this toy. They’ll be miserable until they have it.

It’s amazing to see; it’s like watching them become possessed before my very eyes, their insatiable desire sneaking up on them and sinking in its claws.

It’s amazing to see; it’s like watching them become possessed before my very eyes, their insatiable desire sneaking up on them and sinking in its claws. After calming down the kids and giving some firm no’s (and a little ice cream to ease the pain), it’s time to reflect on the experience.

Aren’t we all like those children? We’re (mostly) fine until we run into a situation where our appetites are whet, where our desires are excited. This could be a trip to the mall, a visit to a friend’s new home, a view of someone’s vacation pictures on Instagram, a website we stumbled upon while working (!) or even one of those few remaining catalogs.

It doesn’t take much – a few pictures and we’re off. There are new things or experiences we need, things or experiences we just can’t live without! We’ll be so miserable without them.

We are all susceptible. And that’s a sobering thought.

But recognizing our weakness and the source of the temptation is a big first step towards conquering it. We can begin by steeling ourselves against the sources – throwing out (I mean recycling) the catalogs, staying off social media, avoiding the mall…

And even under those circumstances that can’t be avoided, we can repeat to ourselves the wisdom of Ethics of Our Fathers, “Who is the rich person? The one who is happy with his lot.”

Temptation will always come; we need to be aware of it and prepare ourselves to meet it. Our children and grandchildren may be caught unawares; we can’t allow ourselves to be.



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