Like most people, I’m in the full swing with Christmas shopping. This year seems a little more challenging. In years past, I could grab the closest toy catalog and have a shopping frenzy but now my three children are all officially past the toy stage and it’s breaking my heart.

Gone are the days of Lego sets, Hot Wheels and baby dolls. Now it’s all about technology, music and clothes.

I miss the good old days.

One of my favorite memories from my childhood was looking at the Sears wish book. I still remember sitting in front of the fire place while my hair dried from my bath. My mom would spray “No More Tangles” in it to make it easier to comb. I always associate the Sears wish book with that smell.

The Sears Wish Book would arrive in the mail in early December. These days it would probably show up around Halloween since the retail marketing side of the holidays seems to get earlier and earlier each year.

Back then it hit right on time. Just enough time to really get excited about Christmas but not be burnt out because it started too soon.

My siblings and I would start our lists and draw circles around everything we wanted in the book.

I remember the book being at least an inch thick but maybe that was because I was so young.

It was divided in sections. I’d skip right to the toy section. There were always the big items that I knew I’d never get but it was fun to wish for them anyway. I remember wanting a full sized video game like you would see at an arcade because one of my friends had one. She would charge me a quarter to play it too.

I also wanted a pool table or one of those all-in-one tables with foos ball, but I never got one. But don’t think I was ever deprived on Christmas morning, because I certainly wasn’t.

I’m sure my mom is reading this and defensively thinking “Hey, we always had a very nice Christmas!”

Yes Mom, we always did.

One year, when I was about 7 or 8, I saw a commercial on television for “Domino Rally.” It was a set them up and knock them down set of plastic dominos. On TV it looked so cool. I had to have it. I begged my parents for weeks. On Christmas morning I was shocked and amazed that I received it.

I think I played with it twice. My mom still teases to me this day and it has become the “go to’ comparison of anything my kids might ask for that is trending at the moment.

“Oh, that’s just like that Domino Rally you HAD to have Jenny!” has been said at least once each year by my mother since I was 8 years old. We laugh about it now but at the time, that was serious business. 

It’s funny how things trend. Right now everyone seems to want these little monkeys (and other animals) called “Fingerlings.”

First of all, the name is terrible. If you look up the definition of the word it is either a type of potato or a small young fish.

How did that word get associated with a monkey? I guess it’s because it “wraps itself” around a finger.

Also, when you watch the commercial on TV, it appears that this monkey hops all over the place and is very active. I’d hate to watch the disappointment on Christmas morning when small children realize it’s just a little plastic monkey that holds on to your finger.

But the hype is incredible, just like Domino Rally was to me, so parents pay more than they should for them in an effort to make their kid’s Christmas a good one.

When I think back to my childhood, the best part of Christmas really wasn’t the presents, it was the traditions, the family time and sharing memories from past Christmases. It’s funny that those are the things that really matter yet we all stress ourselves out with shopping and preparing.

Of course seeing the expression on a child’s face when they receive a gift they really wanted makes it all worth it.

As the years pass and the kids get older, our Christmases will change. One day, my kids will have their own children and I hope they remember these years and love their memories as much as I do.

Jennifer Lague writes from Derry.

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