‘Tis* almost the season

With Black Friday fast approaching (what an awful name), I can hear everyone’s thoughts turning to Christmas shopping once the leftovers are put away. Or maybe it’s their stomachs turning — it’s a shame that buying presents has become such a dreaded chore for so many people. How about if I concentrate on what I hope is still fun: toy buying.

Who doesn’t have a favorite toy? Who doesn’t remember their BEST CHRISTMAS EVER and why it was? Maybe I’m way off base here, but I have to believe Christmas meant even more to us than it does to today’s kids. After all, “back in the day” (this is the modern version of “when I was a kid”), we got presents twice a year: our birthday and Christmas. There was no getting something on every trip to the store or being presented with your own “treat bag” on some other kid’s or sibling’s birthday. You had your 2 days in the sun and that was it. (Oh yeah, and candy at Easter and Halloween. But not presents — and certainly not anything lame like toothbrushes — just candy.)

Of course, my brothers were good at supplementing. “Junk Day” was like the third best holiday. My brothers were paperboys, so were out there at the crack of dawn to get first dibs on whatever treasures other people were throwing away. I personally got my first baton that way (and what little girl doesn’t want a baton?), an Easy-Bake Oven (kinda lame, no mixes), and a cool little light-table that you could trace on (perfect for paperdoll clothes). Oh they hauled home tons more, like one of those tabletop foosball-like hockey games and a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember (but they will).  

My parents were pretty good at coming through with the toys when it counted, though. A lot of them were hand-me-downs by the time I came along, but we really had some memorable ones.

scm sized  My brother got one of these super-cool Strange Change Machines that transformed colorful little plastic squares into dinosaurs when you heated them up. And you could smash them back into little squares again — over and over. Loved it!

getaway chase  Another favorite: the Getaway Chase Game — Bonnie & Clyde-type car racing. (See those kids on the box — my brother and me.)

green ghost Or Green Ghost …the ultimate cool glow-in-the dark game (come to think of it, this may have been a Junk Day find).

baby drowsy  Or the love of my life: Baby Drowsy. I can still remember all 11 of her sayings when you pulled the string (well 9 sayings, a giggle, and a cry). Some 15 years later, my youngest niece got a Baby Drowsy of her own (which she promptly used to torment her older sister, earning Drowsy a new name: “the haunted baby”).

What about KerPlunk! or Battleship or Little Kiddle dolls (the tiny ones that came in jewelry), or Spirograph? I always wanted a Lite-Brite, never got one, but was brought to tears by how excited my oldest niece was when she got hers: “(rip rip) A LITE-BRITE, A LITE-BRITE!”

I know you have your own fondest Christmas toy memories. Why not relive the joy and buy a little kid a toy this year? (And no, not some $100 computer game or massive Barbie McMansion — a TOY!) Although . . . (POP — sound of bubble bursting) it occurs to me, with all the lead scares, even that simple pleasure is tainted now.

OK, new plan. We go Little House on the Prairie this year and everyone gets some nuts, a peppermint stick, and one perfect orange — organic of course. Yeah right. Better yet, go vintage on eBay. I can hear Baby Drowsy now…”I go sleep now, night-night. Close your eyes mommy. I want another drink of water. I wanna stay up…”

There is nothing sadder in this world than to awake
Christmas morning and not be a child.
                                                ~ Erma Bombeck

*P.S. See how that apostrophe in ‘Tis is pointing the wrong way? (It should look like a 9 not a 6.) It drives me crazy, as it will any typographically picky reader, but I lack the HTML skills to fix it. If anyone knows how, I’d be grateful…