We are getting toys in at work. It is always fun to unpack and arrange toys, and it is especially fun to see new ones. We have carpet skates this year, and Blast Pads, and very very cute baby toys.

The Empress is a little nervous about ordering lots of toys, because the American consumer is feeling a little nervous. The Wall Street Journal is happy to advise us that this is only because the average American consumer doesn’t understand economics.

For example, the inflation rate is hardly anything, if you do not count energy or food costs. This will be reassuring to those of us who live in tropical paradises where shelter is optional and one can live upon breadfruit and cassava plucked from wild breadfruit and cassava patches. The rest of us, since we have to drive to work, heat our homes, and feed our families, will be less sanguine.

And, while it is true that the number of Americans living in poverty has risen to 37 million under Mr. Bush (the education secretary said in a recent speech that this administration will be remembered most for the No Child Left Behind Act, but I think they may be luckier than that and be remembered chiefly for bringing our nation out of the dangerous period of peace and prosperity that had lulled us all into smugness), we can all feel better knowing that American poverty is not that bad. For example, poor people in America have way more square footage in which to experience poverty than those in other nations.

It’s just that, with so many of us not fully understanding these things, it is very possible that this will be another dismal Christmas shopping season for toy stores. So we are trying to have plenty, for the people who come in to shop, but not so much that we will go under if they don’t come in to shop.

I think the reasonable response to a fiscally nervous Christmas is to buy a few well-chosen toys that will last, instead of spending the same amount on lots of dreck at the discount store, but I may be biased.

Yesterday, I put together a multicultural games basket for the American Heart Association gala, and was able to include things for all ages and in all categories, from all over the world, mostly made of wood, for just $100. This is the equivalent of two video games, or four trendy plastic things that will break within two weeks.

But enough retail griping. Homemade stuff, too, is good.

Is there a dreadful sameness in my knitting pictures lately? What can I say? I am being disciplined. I am cabling, cabling, cabling, till all the cabling is done.