For those of you who are still in the hunting and gathering stage of seasonal shopping, consider this a holiday PSA: Give the gifts – give all the gifts, take pictures of the smiling recipients, regale your co-revelers with tales of what you overcame to procure the gifts – but don’t, repeat, DON’T let your kids keep the gifts. In a few days, quietly retrieve them and store them in a cool, dark place like nuts for the winter.
The sensible among you may be asking, “Where’s the fun in that?” The fun, as I’ve recently discovered, is on a time-release schedule of about 20 years, when the toys you (or Santa) bought for your kids become worth 100 times what you paid for them.
I’m talking here about the rare, coveted Princess Diana Beanie Baby that I purchased for $100 in a silent bidding war at a school auction. (I did it to help the kids!) Diana, the crown jewel of our Beanie Babies collection, reigned over an extensive collection from the hermetic protection of her acrylic case on a tall, tall shelf.
Out of curiosity, I decided to check eBay for the current value of my sentimental investment in the purple fur-covered tribute to Princess Di: $1,000 – ten times what I paid for it. (Note to self: add soothsayer to my résumé.)
Deep in the fur-lined Beanie Baby section of eBay, the economy is thriving. I scrolled through a Who’s Who, recognizing nearly all of them. As predicted in the mid-’90s, the key to their value is the heart-shaped paper ID tag. My kids teethed on quite a few Babies before we knew to keep the tags intact, but our oversized Rubbermaid tub was full of the very collectibles that are raking in big bucks online.
The sensible among you may now be asking, “So whatever happened to the Princess Di?”
I asked my daughter, the original Keeper of the Beanie Babies, where Her Highness was. “Hmmm … I’m not sure where she is, but I do remember that we couldn’t play with her.”
OK, OK, I thought. She’s obviously around somewhere. We wouldn’t have tossed her in a move or sold her in a garage sale – can you just imagine getting 50¢ for a rare collector’s edition Beanie? The very thought of it sets me off in a cold sweat.
Seeing eBay’s going rate of most of the others prompted me to take a cursory mental inventory of our tub o’ Beanies. A ballpark estimate suggested early retirement and extended global holidays for the first person in my family to liquidate the entire lot. Cha-ching!
I’m now in a group text with my three (grown) kids. “You guys!” I type, nearly snapping a nail to alert them to our impending wealth. “Where is the tub of Beanie Babies? You won’t believe how much they’re going for on eBay – we have almost every one of the top earners!”
My daughter dropped the big one: “I donated most of them a long time ago,” she replied, essentially writing herself out of my on-again-off-again will.
“Whaaaaaaaaat?! Donated??” I pounded at my phone in denial.
One of my sons weighed in: “I kept them all together in that Rubbermaid tub for a long time, but yeah, I’m pretty sure we donated them along with the tub.”
Clearly, while I’ve been waiting for my many wise investments to pay off like a winning scratcher, my family of what-me-worry philanthropists has been donating assets AND the Rubbermaid tub, to boot. I don’t even know who the lucky beneficiaries were, but if prices on eBay for Beanie Babies are any indication, I’ll wager a Princess Di Beanie Baby (as soon as I find it) that there’s an oversized Rubbermaid tub nearby, stuffed with cash.