Posted tagged ‘Sears catalog’

“Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve. Yuletide excitement is as potent as caffeine, no matter your age.”

December 11, 2015

The middle of December shouldn’t be this warm. Yesterday set a new record high and today is already in the 50’s. I have yet to see my breath this winter. Santa will probably arrive wearing a Hawaiian shirt and Bermudas.

Yesterday was my most industrious day. The to do was completed. All the presents got wrapped and were put in boxes ready to mail. They’ll go out tomorrow. Gracie and I went to the dump, to Agway and finally to a grocery store so I could buy dinner. Last night I was totally exhausted from all the up and down the stairs and the hauling of boxes and presents.

My mother didn’t drive when I was a kid so I can’t imagine how she got all her shopping done. I don’t remember her ever being missing on a day when my dad was home to drive her. Maybe my mother did mail order shopping as our reference book for Christmas presents was the Sears catalog. My brother and I would look through the toy section time and time again and we’d circle what we wanted. The gifts probably arrived when we were in school. I know she hid them everywhere: the attic, the ironing board closet, the next door neighbor’s and the trunk of my dad’s car. We’d sometimes come across them but not because we looked.

I always did my shopping up town at Woolworth’s, Grant’s or the drug stores. The biggest drug store, the Middlesex Drug, sat on one side of the square. It had a soda fountain which had stools and a marble counter. They made the coke the old way by putting in the syrup then the fizzy water as we used to call it. In the middle of the store was always a display at Christmas. It was filled with perfumes and powders in festive boxes. I always checked them all out, but they were too expensive. I usually only had only a dollar or two, too poor for the drug store but rich enough for Woolworth’s.

Giving presents to all my family was really a big thing to me. I spent so much time walking up and down the aisles looking for something special for each of them. My sisters sometimes got baby bottles for their dolls. I remember the nipples were always pink. My brother was happy with his balsam plane. My mother made a big deal over the perfume I’d bought despite how inexpensive it was. My dad welcomed new handkerchiefs. He always carried one with him. I remember him pulling one out and blowing his nose with a great deal of noise.

I’d wrap my own presents and put them under the tree right in front. I was so proud of them.

“The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.”

October 12, 2012

Today was an unexpected sleep in late day. I won’t even admit what time it was when I finally crawled out of bed. Because I had no cream, the dog and I, as soon as we came downstairs, went to Dunkin’ Donuts to buy my morning coffee. Good thing they have a drive-up as I didn’t even bother to get dressed.

As soon as the sun goes down, it gets cold now, a lingering cold, the sort you know is here to stay. Tonight is supposed to be in the 30’s, yup, I said the 30’s. This morning, during my jaunt, the sun was out, but it has since disappeared and has left us with a gray, ugly day, the sort of day which invites coziness and a good book, but, alas, I do have to go out to get the cream for my coffee.

My mailbox will soon disappear. Everyday the pole on which it sits sinks further into the ground weighed down by the   catalogs my mailman has to deliver day in and day out, but, luckily, this is a rural route so Bob, my mailman, has a truck which is a good thing as I figure most of his route, maybe even much of the world, is being inundated by catalogs. Yesterday there were twelve catalogs in my mailbox. Three of them had threats, “This is your last catalog unless you order;” however, I am undaunted by these threats. Go ahead, stop my catalogs. I dare you!!

I admit some catalogs make me salivate. William Sonoma and Crate and Barrel are two of them. I also love Napa Style and VivaTerra. I look through each of them and make a mental list of what I’d buy if I had money and room for all the purchases. I even turn down the corners of the pages so I can go back and be tempted.

Back when we were kids we only needed one catalog, the king of catalogs: the Sears Catalog. It had everything anyone ever needed. I always thought it had a bit of magic about it. From its toys pages came our lists for Santa, including catalog numbers so Santa would have no doubt exactly what we wanted. We looked through those pages so many times they got wrinkled and dirty, but we still looked over and over again. Maybe we’d changed our minds or just maybe we might have missed something the first ten or twelve times we looked through those pages.


“Heap on the wood! – the wind is chill; But let it whistle as it will, We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.”

December 11, 2011

Winter has finally reared its head and today is only 38°. The day even has a chilly look with the light seemingly wan, almost dim, as if the sun has too little energy to fight the cold and is finally giving in to the change of seasons. The breeze is slight and barely rustles the leaves at the ends of the branches. I’m still in my cozies and quite comfy and warm. I can hear Gracie’s deep breathing as she’s napping on the couch behind me. The cats have their own spots during the day; one is on a couch pillow in the other room and the other is on my still unmade bed curled on a blanket. The animals in my house lead tough lives.

When I was a kid, I lived in a house with no chimney, but not once did I ask my mother how Santa would bring us toys. I always just figured he was magical, and the lack of a chimney would be no hindrance. Seeing all the Santas around town never diminished my belief in the one true Santa Claus. I knew the rest were like elves and had jobs to do to help Santa, and, besides, you never saw the real Santa. That was part of the code of belief.

I remember going through the Sears catalog and circling then initialing the toys I wanted so there would be no questions. When I wrote my letters to Santa, I included the toy numbers so he could see exactly what I wanted. It never occurred to me that maybe he didn’t have a Sears catalog. I think I figured everyone did. My list was always long and never included clothes. When I was little, I always thought clothes were a waste of a gift. When I got older, they were the best gifts.

I remember learning Up on the Rooftop in school. We sang it often with rousing good cheer, almost like an anthem to Santa. I also remember the nuns reminding us that Santa was merely a secondary character in the whole of Christmas. It was, after all, a birthday we were celebrating.

My mother put up a crèche every Christmas, and we had an advent wreath most years. The figures in the crèche were made of what I now know was chalkware. It wasn’t all that durable, and some of our figures had no noses, the one body part especially vulnerable to time. I have a similar crèche of my own which I’ve accumulated one piece at a time from all different chalkware sets. Many of my figures have no noses.