Thursday, October 20, 2011

Revisiting the Christmas Wish List

My friends are beginning to post their kids' funny and cute Christmas lists on Facebook and Twitter and it reminded me of the great pride and care I employed to craft the perfect Christmas list as a child. See Christmas was done REALLY. BIG. at my house. Birthdays were casual affairs with a couple of nice, moderately priced gifts...but Christmas? Well that was a different story. On Christmas morning there would be beautifully wrapped packages in every corner of the living room - too many for just under the tree. Each family member was assigned their own gift wrap pattern - a stroke of genius by my uber organized and "fair" mother.

I was never disappointed - I received so many wonderful, thoughtful, and fun presents over the years I don't have even one Christmas memory that isn't joyful.

This was partly due to the obvious generosity of Santa (my parents). And now that I'm an adult, I realize that is attributed to their very careful planning and saving.

And partly due to the very calculated and inclusive lists I created, very soon after the last roasted pumpkin seeds from Halloween were eaten.

The intent behind every list was to come off humble, yet be clear in your requests and also provide a variety of options for "Santa". For most items I would have an "A" (the one I wanted) paired with a "B" (a similar item at lower cost, or perhaps slightly different). This allowed Santa to select gifts based on budget and availability, it also drove home the amount of desire to have such items.

I also think I liked doing this because it built in a layer of surprise and anticipation that I probably wouldn't have had if I had just said, I want a "Preemie Girl Cabbage Patch Kid". Instead that was "A", followed by "B" which was "ANY CABBAGE PATCH KID, preemie, white, black, boy or girl" since that was a very difficult item to attain Christmas 1983.

Secondly, it was very effective to present great acts of obedience alongside the most highly coveted items. (An early lesson in presenting budgets and performance evaluations to determine project funds or raises.) For example: Made bed every day this year: Peaches 'N Cream Barbie.

Finally - our lists were never limited. By doing this our parents taught us to understand the value of things, and also to understand that as children, we sometimes needed to pace some of our dreams and build towards those loftier presents. Wish for a trip to Europe? Get a globe and a book about France. Wish for your own ballet bar and mirror? Get new dance clothes and a Center Stage Barbie that spins on her own pedestal.

I was so fortunate to have parents that truly sacrificed, scrimped, bargain shopped, and saved to give us these kind of Christmases. But even then...there are a handful of items I never got.

I have come to understand the reasoning behind why some requests were never granted, Barbie Dream House? Too expensive (or so I thought...keep reading). Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine? Too messy. Easy Bake Oven? Sister had one, why get another.

However as I flip through the pages of the Sears catalog, nostalgically dog-earring pages as I go, I realize that I can now buy myself these treasures that for whatever reason Santa didn't bring. Did they create some void of playtime fun I can now correct?

Here's my list of all time wished for, but never received toys and gifts. I will purchase some of these items (marked *) to determine if they still deserve the wistful regret I still give them. In upcoming blogs I'll report on their enjoyment and nostalgic value. After they have served their purpose, I will be donating them to little ones in need.

*Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine (How messy is it after all?)$17.99

Barbie Malibu Dream House *REVELATION* My sister and I teamed up to ask for this one...and instead got the Barbie Townhouse - which we thought was not as good, come to find out TODAY that the TOWNHOUSE is actually a lot more expensive. I guess that goofy elevator on a string was really more of a manufacturing feat than we gave it credit for - we did really enjoy that present. Today the Malibu Dream House is $129.00, the Townhouse a whopping $169.00! (Since I guess I already did get the better of the two of these...I think I'll skip buying myself the Dream House, and instead buy something for my own house.)

Power Wheels Pink Jeep. Obviously, I no longer would fit in one of these, so I believe I'll skip this one too - and put that money into some repairs on the "grown-up" Jeep I already own. I think Mom & Dad had safety in mind as much as the high price tag. Goes for $299 these days.

Trampoline - Another safety first denial (and cost + neighbor safety concerns.) That and I think my dad liked to keep the yard uncluttered to practice pitching golf balls. I live in a condo in a city and have no yard. I do still love jumping on a trampoline though.

*Easy Bake Oven - classic light bulb style - which I hear is going to be discontinued - I guess it's not safe? Still, it keeps Mommy's oven clean - so I think I'll give this one a go. This classic model retails for $24.99, the "Ultimate" retails for $49.99. I can't tell the difference, and want the old school version. I will also of course be picking out some packets of flavorless dry cake mix and pasty frosting to use - wonder if they've improved that at all?

*Barbie Head - I had a couple of these and asked for a new one every year. This was my parents lesson in taking care of things. I thought I was just perfecting doll haircuts. I would still enjoy an afternoon styling one of these. Although it doesn't come with makeup anymore, it's just all about the hair. Guess they figured that's what it was always about anyway. Now that makeup is not included, I'm disappointed. Of course that blue eyeshadow never went on all that great anyway. This retails for $34.99.

Happy List-Making Everyone and here's to a road down nostalgia lane!