Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Gifts of My Youth

A few weeks ago, my octogenarian grandmother asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  Before I knew it, I let out an audible groan and said, "Gran, I don't know."  This EXACT exchange has been going on for the better part of two decades now.  

You see, my family will say that I'm picky.  I prefer the word - particular.  I have very particular tastes and there are some things that I just prefer to pick out myself - clothes, shoes, and electronics.  And, I sure as hell don't want to open up a gift to find socks or underwear!  It wasn't fun as a kid and it isn't fun as an adult.  Compounding the difficulty my family has when shopping for me is the fact that I'm forty-something years old with a good paying job and if I want something, I usually just go out and get it for myself instead of delaying my gratification and reserving it for someone to get me for Christmas.  

My grandmother then let out a disappointed sigh and said, "I'll just give you money then.  Shopping for you when you were a kid was so easy.  All I had to do was give you the Sears Wish Book and an ink pen and tell you to mark away."

The Sears Wish Book!  What a blast from my Christmas past!  Instantly, my mind was flooded with memories of sitting at my grandmother's kitchen table, turning the pages with such intense anticipation, ink pen in hand, ready to circle anything and everything that caught my eye.  Marking my selections in that catalog was such an integral part of my childhood Christmas experience.  I mean, really...  It wasn't Christmas season until I got to pick things out of the Sears Wish Book. 

Remember any of these?  Chances are, if you were a kid in the 70s or 80s, then you do and you probably had a similar ritual with your parents or grandparents.

Thinking about the Sears Wish Book naturally led me to think about all the things I marked throughout the years, some that I received, some that I did not, which led me to today's Top 10 Tuesday post:

The Top 10 Most Memorable Christmas Gifts 
I Received as a Kid/Teen

10.  Cabbage Patch Kid - Why in the world kids all over the world went loco for these creepy looking dolls is beyond me.  The Cabbage Patch doll may have been one of the first "must have" Christmas items in which people lost their ever-loving minds doing whatever they could to get their hands on one.  Every kid HAD to have one and I, too, got caught up in the hype.  Given that I wasn't one to play with dolls (other than Barbie), I think my mom was just so thrilled that I wanted this girly item that she somehow secured one for me.  If I'm remembering correctly, my Cabbage Patch Kid looked a lot like this one. Her name was Florentina and her birth certificate was, I kid you not, in spanish!  Desperate times call for desperate measures and sometimes that means getting a spanish Cabbage Patch Kid for your non-spanish speaking youngin'.  LOL! 
9.  Roller Skates.  Through the magical power of the internet, I found a picture of the skates that are identical to the ones I received.  Apparently these skates were very popular in 1979!  
8.  Boom Box.  Again through the magic of the internet, I was able to find a picture of a Panasonic Boom Box that is identical to the one my father gave me for Christmas either in 1983 or 1984.  That boom box was awesome!  I used it all the way through college (in the 1990s), somehow managing to hook up my portable CD player to it!  They just don't make electronics like that anymore.
7. Barbie Swimming Pool.  My bedroom was like a virtual Barbieland in the 1980s, so of course I would have a pool!  LOL!  My mom, bless her heart, even let me fill it up with water and on more than one occasion I made a huge mess on the carpet.  No pretend pool water for my Barbies...

6.  Legos.  I spent hours and hours and hours building with these colorful blocks and apparently my mom spent hours and hours picking up little, stray pieces that I overlooked!  Here I am with my Dorothy Hamill do, talking on the phone while constructing an architectural masterpiece!
5.  Sony Sports Walkman.  I was around 12 or 13 years old when I received this gift.  I was so excited to get it because it gave me the freedom to listen "on the go," as long I could could provide batteries, and to be secretive about the music I was listening to.  We all know how important the illusion of privacy is to teenagers.  My Walkman looked exactly like this and I think I still have it in a drawer at my parents's house.
4.  Minolta Maximum.  This was my very first 35mm camera.  Being the yearbook photographer in high school, I must have taken THOUSANDS of pictures with that camera.  I loved taking pictures.  Here is a rare shot of the photographer (holding said camera) being photographed.  (As for the kooky outfit... When I was a sophomore, I was also a "server" at the Jr./Sr. Prom, an honor bestowed upon unsuspecting sophomores, and that's why I had that crazy angel costume on.  The prom theme that year had something to do with castles and clouds and heaven or something...)
3.  Barbie Dream House.  I mentioned earlier that my childhood bedroom was a virtual Barbieland.  Well, I wasn't kidding.  This is the house that my Barbies lived in. 
And...my Barbies also had a Dream Cottage for them to visit on the weekends.  LOL!  I took my Barbie playing very seriously!  Here is a picture of the cottage from what was is probably a page from the Sears Wish Book that I found online.

2.  Fisher Price Joey Doll.  Ah, my beloved Joey.  I took him everywhere, dragging him along wherever I went.  I carried him by the arm so much that his arm eventually detached from his body and my mom or granny had to sew it back on.  I've gotten rid of most of my childhood toys, but I still have Joey.  He was my very first friend.
1.  Letterman Jacket.  My high school was very small and only offered the bare minimum in terms of sports, so it was a big deal to be a "letterman."  Both my mom and stepfather taught there, so from a very early age, I was always "around" for after school activities and sporting events.  I can remember when I was about 9 or 10, looking at those maroon and gold letterman jackets and thinking, "I can't wait to get my own one day."  I lettered in both academics and softball my freshman year, so I was eligible to get my jacket in the fall of my sophomore year.  My father got it for me for Christmas that year and that was the only coat I wore from that December until the winter of my freshman year of college (when it was no longer cool to wear your high school jacket).  It is the one piece of high school memorabilia that I refuse to part with. 

Thank you for accompanying me on this trip down Christmas memory lane!  

What items from your youth would make your Top 10 Most Memorable Gifts list?  Please feel free to share for I would love to know!


  1. Oh how I loved going through the Sears wishbook and marking pages and items of things I wanted. It was so much fun. So sad that they don't do that anymore. Merry Christmas!

  2. I was just thinking about the wishbook the other day! I recently gave my mom serious grief because I never got one of those hot pink, barbie convertibles that you could drive yourself, and I couldn't believe I never got one because "I circled it every year in the Sears catalog!" Then I remembered how I would circle around 5 things on every page, every year, and I realized that maybe it wasn't so easy for my parents to pick something out! When I was growing up in the early 90s, I was all about Polly Pockets--I got at least two of the big mansions for Christmas, and I've made my mom keep all of them for my daughter to play with one day.

  3. Fun post! My Memaw has a picture of me sitting at her dining table going through the Sears Wishbook :) I got not only A boombox one year, it was a PINK boombox and I thought it was amazing. But...my favourite present of all time was my rabbit fur coat. I know. PETA would not like that answer.


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