My parents wanted to buy my son an outdoor play set for his fourth birthday. We knew friends had acquired a nice one at Lowe's (a big box hardware store) and a few weeks ago we went to price one. The simplest "kit" (with a couple of swings, a tower thing and a slide) cost $1500 - and that's unassembled. To have it assembled by the good folks at Lowe's would cost over $2100. I saw those prices and walked promptly out of the store.
I thought we would happily make do with our neighborhood playground, but then I realized that we had quite a few neighbors who had play sets and children who had grown up and perhaps no longer fancied so much time on the swings.
I called the neighbor with whom I am closest and asked if we could buy their play set. She immediately said they would love it if we just *take it* because it had been years since their children used it and they would like to plant some fruit trees in its place.
She refused payment but I managed to talk her into a gift card for our local whole foods grocery store as a token of our gratitude. And another friend broke down the set and put it up in our backyard for a very reasonable sum.
So instead of paying a small fortune to the big box store who cuts down trees in China for their play sets, we were able to give an 8-year-old play set a new life with a very grateful child *and* support our local economy with my parents' gift.
We have played on that set every day over the last week and we've already hosted lots of other children to share the wonderful gift. Below are pictures of G (aka Spiderman) and two of his favorite playmates - of whom he commonly asks, "Are they my sisters or my girlfriends?" I suppose we still have plenty of time to figure that out.
This week I'm rejoicing in the simple pleasures of a swing set.