Sunday, December 30, 2007


When I was 10 or 11, the big Christmas gift that all the kids were getting that year was a transistor radio. Up until that time, radios were big, not as big as a breadbox, but almost, and had to be plugged in. But with the invention of the transistor and reliable batteries, pocket sized radios hit the market with a bang. There was, from my point of view, only one drawback.

They were expensive.

No, I can't remember the actual price, which would seem trivial by now, but that scarcely matters. They were expensive enough that I knew I couldn't ask for one. Because of my parents and their problems, I had learned as a toddler to 'read' the moods of adults, and I knew how my mom, who was the keeper of the purse strings, felt when she couldn't afford something I wanted, and so I stopped asking. Added to that is my sister, 4 years physically older but much younger all her life, who would automatically ask for the same thing, even if she didn't really want it. She wanted what I had, maybe to prove she was loved.... but at any rate, two radios were out of the question. And really, I didn't mind. I mostly chose things that were in the Green Stamp catalog, because my folks always saved them, and the stuff in the catalog were pretty cool, even if I had no idea what you did with some of them. Like, what did one need sleeping bags for? I never went camping and never knew anyone who did. I figured a camper would roll up in a blanket, like in the cowboy shows. And all the fishing stuff was a mystery; we used a cane pole with string and a hook tied on, and an earthworm for bait, and we only fished in little creeks and ponds. At any rate, my Christmases were filled with Green Stamp joy.

Anyway, remembering the small things I did get at Christmas, I marvel that it never occurred to me that we were poor. All my school friends could have been better off financially, but I never picked up on that. Not even when I played in the house across the street, which had an entire ROOM just as a playroom, with every conceivable doll, toy and game available. That was, for instance, the only time I "played Barbies" -- with Susie's dolls, not mine. I never, in fact, had a doll at all. And never missed one.

Anyway, I hope that all of you got just the right things for Christmas and that all your memories will be fond ones too!


Wayne said...

Yes, I remember in '76 I got a USED cassette recorder and thought I was in hog-heaven. Never had a clue we were poor either. Those were good days.

cube said...

I remember getting my first Royal typewriter when I was 8 and I spent hours typing on it. That was one of the best Christmases ever.