It’s that time of year again. Mails are getting heavy with catalogs, most of which you never asked for nor want. Yet time and time again I find myself taking one with me to the bathroom or an easy chair and spending valuable time sifting through the pages. I guess it’s a throwback to those days long ago when, as a child, I so looked forward to the arrival of that J.C. Penney or Sear’s Christmas catalog.
After getting that big book that showed me exactly what the world had to offer kids whose parents had money, I’d spend the next weeks rifling through the pages until they were rumpled and crinkly, marking big pencil circles around each item that I knew would completely transform my life if I could just manage to get it somehow, hopefully through benevolent benefactors since I didn’t, nor ever expected to, have any money.
One year it actually worked. During a dropby visit after school one day Gramma and Grampa invited me into the room across the hall from the dining room where we weren’t normally allowed to be. They opened a big trunk with leather straps around it filled with smells of moth balls and old fabric. They proudly pulled out and presented me with a small doll wrapped in a pink flannel blanket. What a delightful surprise, only to be doubled moments later when they pulled out a second doll identical to the first, except that one was wrapped in a blanket of blue.
Grampa, whom everyone in the family thought of as being very stingy, was especially excited. Immediately we began thinking of names for the new dolls, and he reckoned as how “Pete” would be a fine name for the blue-blanket doll, and “Re-Pete” would work for the other. So that’s what I called them. I don’t remember for a fact, but I suspect there was a catalog somewhere in their living room with a page of dolls turned down at the corner with pictures of my Pete and Repete.
So the other day, when I found a toy catalog from ToysRus in our mailbox, I briefly entertained the idea of passing it along to the grandchildren so they could experience the same joy that I did in turning the pages over and over and daydreaming about Christmas to come. My grandchildrens’ rooms are full of toys, yet they always wish they had more. So I don’t think they will ever experience dreaming and anticipating the wonders Santa might bring – provided the crops have been good and that he has made enough money that year.
I wasn’t the only child in those days who had lean Christmases. Even sadder is the fact that there are still children in this country who will have a very lean Christmas this year, just as they have had every year of their lives so far. So I threw away that ToysRus catalog. I don’t think most children in this country, including my grandchildren, will ever understand and appreciate how much they have. I wish there was an easy way to change that, but I can’t think what it would be. On the other hand, I don’t think I need to stimulate the greedy gene by supplying a “want” book. I guess it’ll be up to Santa to make that decision.