All of the children we are related to live far away, so we have to be on the ball in early December in order to get their gifts in the mail in time to be under the tree on December 25th. This makes shopping for them and wrapping their presents the kick-off to our Christmas activities every year.
I grew up living away from extended family, as my parents moved us to the Toronto area when I was 4. So I've experienced firsthand the feeling that came with Christmas packages arriving in the mail. Back then there wasn't any Skype or email and long-distance calling was very expensive and charged by the minute, so Christmas mail and birthday cards were the main line of communication between we children and the little-known adults in our family.
Nick was also in the same boat, with his extended family being an ocean away, so as adults we both agreed that sending something to the young people in our lives was an important and necessary step involved in their getting to know that we exist and are thinking about them. Our personal life stories prove to us that no contact now means a slim chance for a solid relationship when they grow up and it is that unappealing prospect that gets us out and shopping for them. We want them to be able to think back when they are grown and remember that we cared enough to make the effort.
Of course, spending lots of time with them would be the best way to forge a strong relationship but unfortunately that is impossible in our case, so we're left with gifts to do much of our talking for us. And that being the case, we want them to be good! In good, I don't mean expensive because children don't know what is expensive and what is not. They only know what is neat or interesting or fun.
My search for such things took me straight to a newish toy store in our neighbourhood called The Toy Terminal. It is located at the corner of Richmond Street and Bathurst Street, so not right on Queen Street West (as stated in the title), but it's less than a 2 minute walk to the south, so if you're on Queen, the shop is very easily found.
At this point regular readers may be thinking 'Hold it, hasn't she already told us about this place?' You would be right ... when Nick and I took a trip to the west coast this summer, we bought toys at this shop to bring with us because we would be seeing some nieces and a nephew. (You can read about that previous shopping trip here and about our visit with the children here).
They ended up loving the things we brought, so I knew this store was a winner and I thought I'd write about my second visit there too, in case any other people in downtown Toronto are looking for good toys this Christmas.
My oh my, this independent shop is a toy utopia. There is so much to choose from, for children of every age, including the best selection of stuffed animals I've ever seen and a wide range of board games.
I went yesterday afternoon, and after declining the help offered by the man and women who run the store, I took my time looking at pretty much every single thing they had. I chose some things I thought would work and finally asked for help with the final selection. They quickly helped me edit what I had picked and suggested some changes based on the ages of 'my' kids. These experienced toy sellers (more than 20 years in the business) had absolutely no qualms about my budget and I walked out of there with some really cool things in a very reasonable price range. And I can be certain that they won't already have or be getting any of the same things from anyone else, unless it is an extreme coincidence.
So there, a big item has been checked off my list of things to do. Now comes the wrapping and boxing up and actually getting to the post office part!
If you'd like to find The Toy Terminal go to the south-east corner of Queen Street West and Bathurst and turn south. Walk the short block to Richmond Street and you're there, (at 165 Bathurst Street.)
I realize that this post could look like I've been hired to promote this store, but that is not the case. I just feel happy enough with my experience there to tell you about it and encourage you to go too.
Oh ok, I will admit that there is something in it for me and that is that I want them to succeed because having them here has made my life a lot easier. There aren't many children in this neighbourhood so I can imagine that the choice to sell toys here is a tough one. I want to give them any help I can, so that they are there when I need them. And really, the toys are great. With this store nearby we can easily be known at the aunt and uncle who give good gifts.
Follow up : I shopped here for Christmas gifts once again in 2014 and the kids loved their presents. See here post for pictures of one little boy enjoying the gift purchased at The Toy Terminal.
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