Tuesday, December 6

Christmas Toy Memories



Husband and I went Christmas shopping yesterday, something we haven’t done together in a long time. Usually, I’m the Christmas shopper, which is kinda ironic because I hate shopping. I’m terrible at it, especially during the holidays. I get overwhelmed by crowded stores and too many choices. However, yesterday was all about Grandboy and man, did we have fun. Bear in mind that for several reasons, not the least of which is an order from his parents, we couldn’t go crazy and buy him a bunch of toys even though there are an amazing number of fascinating toys out there for four-year-old little boys. Son and DIL are trying very hard to raise a kid who is sensible and understands the value of money and most importantly, the meaning of Christmas—all tough things to teach in a world where most kids are overindulged to the max.

Grandboy was allowed to ask Santa Claus for one gift because, as we all know, the man in red brings gifts to all the little children in the world. How would he ever manage if all kids wanted a bunch of stuff each year? I imagine Santa will bring him the one thing he asked for when he went to visit the jolly old elf last week. But he’ll also get gifts within reason from his mom and dad, his grandparents, and other family members and friends, so he’ll have plenty to open on Christmas morning, which brings me back to our shopping trip yesterday...standing among all the bright shiny toys in the department store made me think about my childhood and Christmas and toys...

We didn’t have much money when I was a kid—actually, we had no money when I was six years old. My father had abandoned us, Mom was working full time as a grocery store checkout clerk and going to nursing school full time. I’ve talked a lot about her here because she is a particular hero of mine—how she survived those dark days after Dad left is still a mystery to me. I don’t know that I could ever have managed with four kids under the age of thirteen, a mortgage, groceries, bills...and yet she did it and she even did it at Christmastime. I know she must have been exhausted all the time and sick with worry over how she was going to feed all of us, let alone provide a merry Christmas. 

I remember that first Christmas after my father left with more clarity that any holiday that we ever had with him present. I’d asked Santa for several things, but the most important was a baby doll—not a little plastic one, but the life-sized one that had a soft body—one you could cuddle and dress up and hold like a real baby. At the time, I had no idea how hard it would be for her to fulfill the Christmas wishes of four children—I thought Santa took care of all that in his workshop in the North Pole. But that baby doll was under the tree that Christmas morning, complete with bottle, a flannel blanket to wrap her in, and a small wardrobe of clothes. I was overjoyed! I confess I don’t know what happened to baby Sandra—I named her after the prettiest actress I knew of at the time—Sandra Dee. I think little Sandra may have gone to the Goodwill when Mother moved to California, but it doesn’t matter . . . she is my best Christmas toy memory, made all the sweeter for the adult knowledge of how Mother must have sacrificed to make a little girl’s dream come true. 

So, now it's your turn! Tell me about your favorite Christmas toy—one lucky U.S. commenter might just win a small Christmas prize—not sure what yet. Maybe an ornament or a tasty Christmas treat or possibly even an e-trip to Willow Bay!

12 comments:

  1. My favorite was Tiny Tears. I was pretty nearly too old for her when she came, but I loved that doll to distraction. I don't know what happened to her, either, but I will always be grateful to my sister and my aunt for making it happen.

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    1. Tiny Tears--I think my cousin had one of those. Isn't it funny how we lose track of something we loved so much as a kid? I imagine both Tiny and Sandy would be valuable today--if not to the rest of the world, at least to us!

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  3. Great post! Santa only fills the stockings at our home (mostly because mom and dad want credit for the big gifts!). My favorite gift was probably the $50 gift card to the local shoe store, which I cashed out and used to buy a bunch of 45-records. I was thrilled with my purchase, my father probably much less so but he was gracious about it.

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    1. What a cool idea--I didn't even know you were old enough to remember 45 records--or records for that matter! ;-)

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  4. Atari Christmas is the one I most remember (and we knew by then that Santa was Mom & Dad)...I think because of all the silliness that happened after it was set up. My brother and I would sneak down to our basement playroom all the time...if one of us was grounded, we'd go with the other 'to watch' (yeah, watching was all that happened!), and we'd plot which games to ask for next to maximize the fun of the system.

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    1. My kid had an Atari--he loved it!

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  5. My top 3 favorite presents were: Thumbelina doll (she rolled over when you patted her on the back-I played with her for HOURS!) when I was 7 or 8; my 1st electric blanket at age 10; and the plug to my stereo at age 14. I hadn't been doing my homework, so my dad cut the plug as a punishment. After 6 weeks of sulking and barely speaking to him, 'Santa' left a brand new one under the tree. And yes, my grades had improved:)

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    1. Cool story about your dad and the cord to your stereo--he sounds like a good disciplinarian if your grades improved. Thanks for coming by!

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  6. What a lovely story, Nan, and what a hero your mom is. I can't imagine being in her shoes.

    I tell people I got a Tammy doll because we were too poor to afford a Barbie. Tammy was a fashion doll but she was bigger then Barbie, and not nearly as popular (I'll bet none of you have ever heard of her!) But I loved her, especially since she came with a number of clothes and I could comb her long blonde hair. Thank you for telling us about your favorite Christmas toys, Nan, and giving us a chance to remember ours.

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    1. Jana, I did have a Barbie much later, but I think I've heard of Tammy--weren't fashion dolls great fun? Thanks, sweets!

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  7. When I was like thirteen, I put a bike on layaway--my first ten speed--and my parents paid it off for my Christmas present. It was so unexpected, I think I cried. And it was beautiful--a dark turquoise with black tiger stripes. *Sigh*

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