I remember the excitement of tip-toeing down the stairs with my younger brother early on Christmas morning. The lights on the Christmas tree would already be lit. Our eyes widened at the stacks of beautifully wrapped presents and the bulging red holiday stockings hanging nearby.
We did not write letters to Santa with our lists of toys and wishes. But we did leave a plate of cookies for him which was usually empty by morning. Unwrapping those presents with glee, we couldn’t wait to play with our new toys. Our cat loved to scamper in and out of the mounds of wrapping paper and ribbons and boxes.
Most of those long ago Christmas presents were winners. Dolls and doll accessories when I was very young and then books and my microscope set when I was older. I loved that Tasco microscope. It came in a wooden case with glass slides and assorted items to peek at under the magnifying lens. I was into STEM before it was even a term.
Since my mom was an artist, we always received creative presents like paint sets and craft making kits. My brother received a wonderful present one year – Creepy Crawlers. The set included colorful liquid plastic that you squirted into molds and placed in this heated contraption to produce rubberized lizards, snakes and spiders. Our cat liked to play “fetch” when we tossed a rubber bug across the room for her to grab and bring back.
Another fun gift was the Spirograph set. It included an assortment of stencils in different geometric shapes to spin around using colored pens to create elaborate designs on paper. My brother and I shared this and really enjoyed the endless design possibilities.
We did receive one or two new board games each year which would have been fun except that my mom and dad were not particularly interested in playing board games and my brother definitely preferred playing with his Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots and other more active toys. I had to wait for a school friend to come over to actually get to play Sorry and Life and Monopoly.
Over the years, a few gifts I received would have fit right in on the island of Misfit Toys. That was the place where odd or broken toys lived in the animated TV version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. As a very little girl, I loved playing with dolls. I had baby dolls and Barbie dolls and paper dolls and tiny doll house dolls. But some well-meaning relative sent me a large bride doll dressed in a long white lace gown. The doll had little dangling earrings and a tiara and veil. What kind of toy is that? Where’s the groom? Was she jilted at the altar?
Another bizarre doll that I received was called Hedda Get Bedda. Hedda was dressed in pajamas and came with a hospital bed and a thermometer. Her body was soft but her head was made of hard plastic and covered in a hard plastic white cap. You turned the plastic pom-pom on the top of her head to see her three different faces. (I am not kidding – you can Google it.) Hedda’s three faces included sleeping, smiling or a face covered in red dots – measles? Scarlet fever? Chicken pox? Not my idea of a fun doll to play with.
Receiving a dud toy was a rare glitch in our family. I have fond memories of unwrapping my new diary, flannel pajamas, dolls, books and toys each year. I can still recall being tucked into bed upstairs on Christmas Eve and listening for the sounds of Mom, I mean Santa, wrapping gifts and tearing off pieces of scotch tape late into the night. Happy Holidays!
Kim Kovach encourages everyone to cherish fun, happy holiday memories. www.kimkovachwrites.com