When I was a child, my siblings and I looked forward to the arrival of the Sears & Roebuck Christmas catalog with great anticipation. When it arrived, we would flop on the living room floor and page through that massive wonder until many pages were dog eared and some falling out. I could spend hours looking through it to search for the items that could fulfill my Christmas dreams.
Decades later our sons would spend hours leafing through catalogs and providing Mr. Smith and me with their Christmas lists. I wish I had saved them all, but I do have their lists from 2001. As they grew older, they usually asked for music and clothes and these lists were no exception. Except for Emmet. His wishes were for a Ford Escape and a pony. Sadly, for him, he received neither.
I’m not a part of the grandparent mindset that believes grandchildren are for spoiling. A vast amount of love, yes, but vast amounts of gifts, no. One gift I will always give without guilt is books, so I was pleased when Eleanor’s father forwarded me The 2019 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books article. At age two, Eleanor hasn’t begun sending us Christmas wish lists, but I hope she’ll enjoy the books we chose from this list.
While the Sears & Roebuck Christmas catalog may be a thing of the past, there is no shortage of current Christmas catalogs. During our recent visit with our grandchildren, history repeated itself with a new generation of munchkins flopped on the floor pouring over the colorful, enticing catalogs.
Having raised three sons and shopped for more Transformers, Ninja Turtles and He-Man figures than you can shake a stick at, I was thrilled to enter the glittery world of Christmas shopping for granddaughters. They are a diverse and delightful crew with Christmas wishes running the gambit from Harry Potter, American Girl, Fancy Nancy, Legos, books, art supplies and more. Our girls are as happy building a fort as they are having a tea party so it’s next to impossible to get them something they don’t like. I will be careful not to stereotype, case in point, our newest bundle of energy granddaughter has forgone the world of pink for Coco Chanel black.
I believe my grandsons have enough Legos to build me a grandma pod in their back yard should I ever need one, and I had promised myself Mr. Smith and I weren’t going to buy anymore Legos. Yet every birthday and Christmas, the boys always ask for Lego sets. While grappling with whether to stick to my guns or grant their Christmas wish, I remembered some words of wisdom I received years ago from an old friend in Kendallville. Amy’s two daughters are the same ages as my two oldest sons and we shared many a parenting challenge through the years. When one of my sons wanted an expensive class ring, my first instinct was to say no. I had a class ring back in 1972, gave it to some boyfriend and never saw it again. I viewed buying a class ring as a waste of money, something they wouldn’t care about a few years down the road. Amy told me “Just because it won’t be important later, doesn’t mean it’s not important now.” Her words stuck with me, a little reminder to perhaps consider my son’s wishes more thoughtfully. I’ve carried these words of wisdom with me through the years and they have reminded me to listen more carefully and to take my time responding.
When we asked our grandsons what they wanted for Christmas, we didn’t ask what they wanted that grandpa and grandma would find acceptable. We simply asked them what they wanted for Christmas. During the years our boys were growing up, I tried to impress upon them that when you are giving a gift, you should endeavor to give the recipient something they truly want, not something you want them to have. How could I object to giving a gift that would provide a few hours of reading, following directions, and building something amazing? The grandsons are getting Legos for Christmas.
With Christmas just over five weeks away, my holiday shopping is in full swing. I do much of it online, but still take pleasure in meandering the stores, checking out the seasonal decorations and taking advantage of being able to see items up close and personal. I’m planning a day trip into New York City soon to peruse the holiday fairs, museum shops and the new Nordstrom. This trip will be an opportunity to fill in any gaps on Mrs. Santa’s list, and hopefully find something for the fabulous Mr. Smith. He hasn’t given me a wish list and I’ve yet to see him flopped on the living room floor paging through catalogs, but 42 years of familiarity should help me pick just the right thing.
C’est la vie.