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Of Love or Cupcakes

July 6, 2012

I stopped by Williams Sonoma today for nothing in particular. It was really more a little window shopping for things I didn’t need — and apparently didn’t particularly want.

While I was there, I noticed that an entire section of shelving was dedicated to cookie cutters and cupcake molds (or “cakelets,” as they called them) in the shape of super heroes, Star Wars characters and Snow White images. I stared at them in fascination, realizing it was obvious attempt to guilt parents into thinking that a child’s birthday party would never be complete without character-shaped cupcakes. At the same time, I realized that the cakes and cookies would look like little more than misshaped blobs without the intricate frosting designs that would need to accompany each one.

I imagined — just for a moment — what it would be like to decorate the confections with multiple colors of frosting for hours on end. And then I imagined what it would be like to decorate the confections with multiple colors of frosting for hours on end with a child tugging at my waist.

Essentially, I was about to give myself a mini-meltdown over children’s cupcakes and I don’t even have children.

It immediately made me wonder if parents thought the stress was worth it. Is all the time devoted to decorating the perfect cupcake or cookie worth the time missed with family? After all, is little Johnny more likely to remember a cupcake he ate in 30 seconds or that his parent took time out of her day to play a game with him or teach him something new?

I can’t fault Williams Sonoma. It’s just trying to make a buck. And I can’t fault parents, who often feel they need to keep up with the Joneses or make up for not spending more time with Johnny by giving him trinkets he will never really appreciate.

I just wish our society valued quality time and deep interactions more than it treasured things.

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