My family was not rich at all. We lived paycheck to paycheck even though both my Dad and Mom worked blue collar jobs. We always had an old car, the four of us lived in a three room apartment but we always had a lot of food, a lot of laughs and a lot of love in that apartment. Dad would save his tips and Mom would have her $5.00 Christmas club all to have a great Christmas.
Back in the 50’s and 60’s there were no Toys R’ Us stores to go to. If you were lucky, there was a Mom and Pop toy store in your town but otherwise it was the Sears Christmas catalog that you went to bed with each night until Christmas Eve. Sure there was the J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogs but Sears was the Cadillac of Christmas catalogs and there seemed to be a Sears store in every town in America back then.
There was something for everybody in the catalog – but being a kid it was my dream book. You could spend the whole day on the floor dreaming about what you wanted to ask Santa for on that special day. Back then you only got presents on two occasions, your birthday and Christmas, so you had to make the best of what you asked for so you could play with it all year round. The best time and place to browse through the catalog was at night, on the floor just near the foot of the Christmas tree with all the colored lights reflecting off the pages. Let’s see, would I ask Santa for that Lionel train set, the Fort Apache playset, the Rifleman’s rifle or a Mickey Mantle glove? My kid sister was looking at Lite Brite, the Candy Land game, a Chatty Cathy Doll and that red bike with training wheels. Sometimes, if you were bold enough and just to drop a hint, you would cut out the toy you wanted out of the catalog and leave it around so Mom and Dad could see it.
You always knew that you would find a gift like pajamas, a bath robe, gloves or slippers under the tree so you had to act fast so those kinds of gifts would not over take the important ones like a G.I. Joe Action soldier!
Today things have changed, Sears is not where America shops and the catalog has been gone about 20 years. Even Toy’s R’ Us has filed chapter eleven. I know for a fact that kids have not changed, in that, they still search through hallway closets, under Mom and Dad’s bed and open attic doors to find their Christmas presents; but their dream book is now Amazon and their catalog is in the form of an iPad. Just after the writing of this column, Sears announced that the nostalgic Wish Book would be printed for Christmas of 2017.
To you and yours, I wish you a Merry and Holy Christmas.