the bottomline

Christmas Catalogs
Saturday, November 14, 2020 by Dan Allen

“Getting the Sear's Catalogue was the start of the Christmas season,” so mentioned one of my friends on social media. “They were vital documents at our house” wrote another. Over dinner my wife, Vonnie, and I were discussing the Wish Book and other Christmas–type catalogues and what we wished for back then. I then did some crowdsourcing to see if anyone ever got what they wanted from these. Some did. Most did not.

After sharing her experience with the catalogue, one noted that “the Sears Wish Book was a gift in itself for me those days! Who needed the toys?”

Others fought their siblings for their turn looking and dreaming. “My sister and I would fight to look at and circle the items we wished for. Soon the catalogue would become worn and torn from the constant back and forth.” Another noted that they would have to choose either the right or left page and then touch what they wanted. “We knew we would probably not get what we touched; it was the process that was so much fun!” The book would be so worn, that one family would take it, fold it, and make a table Christmas tree out of it.

And what was it they wanted? What were the things they circled with crayons or magic markers? For some girls it was clothes with one whose mom would make the circled dress—“she was an excellent seamstress,” she wrote. Most guys did not admit looking at or wanting clothing, although I seem to remember looking through that section. I liked anything western and wanted cowboy boots and a cowboy hat (never got them!). One noted he always liked coats and hats. But, more importantly, he remembered the gas powered go carts which he never got! That was seen a lot in the responses. Parents were unable to afford much for Christmas. The father of one would take side jobs “to make a little extra [so that] Christmas [was] great for us.”

Some of the guys remember a few wish list items: Roy Roger’s duel gun and holster, farm house and accessories, model trains, toy cars, trucks, buses, bulldozers, etc. One guy really wanted a Jonny Jumpolene, but never got it. Another: “I’m still waiting for the die cast metal jet collection.” How about the record player one guy received with Alvin and the Chipmunks singing: “Christmas time is here”?

And the girls dreamed of the Barbie doll and accouterments whose pages were always dog-eared, said one. Rock tumbler and pottery wheel was on the wish list for one, but never received. I’m sure they sold a lot of the Easy Bake Ovens. One noted she wanted a Porcelain princess lamp. She said: “There was a little space on the back to put a drop of perfume. When you turn it on, the perfume warms up and fills the air with scent. I still have it.” Another wrote she got a mirror from Spiegel for $50 when she got her first apartment. “Forty years and seven homes later, I just hung it in my guest room.”

It truly was a wish book. After looking through the catalogue and circling their dreams, one wrote: “We never got them, but our neighbors did, so we got to play with them anyway.” Another admitted that her parents were “dirt poor. So we did a lot of dreaming! Not much under the tree. We did have the best gift of all! My parents love for each other and us. They lived Jesus in front of us daily.”

Ah, and that’s the wish we have for every boy and girl. Gifts come and go. They wear out. We get tired of them. But the gift of love from parents on Christmas and every day, never wears out. Perhaps that’s why Jesus is considered such a gift to us. God loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son into this world so that He could take our sins upon Himself and purchase for us a place in Heaven. No greater gift then laying down one’s life for another. And this becomes the greatest gift.

Perhaps you’ve been wishing for personal peace and the assurance of spending eternity in Heaven. Well, that gift is always available to you. But I wouldn’t wait around. The offer ends when you die. 

One of my friends, who is old enough to be my dad, wrote that he has a copy of the last catalog that Sears printed. “Prices look so good,” he remarked. Yeah, those prices aren’t the same today. But the gift Jesus gives is. It’s just a matter of receiving it.


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