“Hurry up! Grab the crayons and I’ll get the scissors!” This was my “order from headquarters” from an older sister when we were kids and Christmas was drawing near.
After asking permission, we would take the scissors to an old Sears or Montgomery Ward catalog and begin clipping out pictures of everything our little hearts desired, knowing full well this was just a wish list, and that we likely wouldn’t ever see it under our Christmas tree. Part of the fun was in the dreaming.
The reason we needed the old tub of crayons is that many of the pages were just drab black and white, and for such things as pajamas or a dress, we would color it whatever we wished it to be if it did, by chance, end up under our tree.
Today kids can go to Amazon and develop their list, while the daily mail carries tons of glossy color catalogs, choking out the dreamer in all of us. It was more fun to dig through the Sir Walter Raleigh tin of old stubby crayons, finding just the color we dreamed of wearing.
A new dress and a new pair of pajamas may not be all that exciting to the children of today, but it was a pretty big deal for us. Looking through the toy section was like wishing on a star.
“Don’t cut every single one of these out just because you think you like them all,” my sister Debi advised me. “Try to think real hard about it and only pick your very favorite.”
We were fascinated by the fact that the “Monkey Ward” catalog seemed to indicate the choices were endless. There were big baby dolls and tiny ones, and there were actual doll clothes made specially for them, too. There were doll baby bottles that, when tipped in to the doll’s mouth, the milk inside the bottle seemingly disappeared before your very eyes.
“But doll babies can’t really drink, so how can this be?” I asked my big sister. “It’s magic,” she said with solemn conviction, and I most certainly believed her.
There were Barbie dolls and Ken dolls and every single thing to help them live the high life. My big sister kept those scissors extra busy on those pages. If she didn’t find quite exactly the right accessory, she would draw it on a piece of paper.
She had the mind of a designer from the time she was old enough to color. My desire ran toward pogo sticks and a ventriloquist dummy, roller skates, pedal tractors, bikes and a real monkey.
With Elmer’s glue and plain notebook paper, we would formulate our own wish list to be sent to Santa Claus. I tried to figure out if Santa owned Montgomery Ward or if his elves just worked there in the off-season. It seemed a bit hazy and confusing.
“Don’t worry about it,” my sister assured me. “We don’t know how a telephone works either, but we can talk to people far away when we dial the right numbers. It’s kind of like that,” she said.
We always opened our gifts after the milking was done on Christmas Eve night, because Christmas was spent with our cousins at Grandpa and Grandma’s house, though we had to leave before we wanted to, to head to the milking parlor.
Some years we just shook our heads and figured we dialed up the wrong number or we were too late getting the scissors, crayons and glue out. Some years Santa amazed us. I got one of those magical baby bottles and my doll baby drank every drop, every single time.
Magic? You bet it was.