Christmas Day, the neighborhood children were up and down the street with their new bikes, skateboards…and drones.
Last week, a lady at Albertsons impatiently waited in line at the checkout – anxious to get home and load seventeen apps on her thirteen-year old’s new laptop.
Yesterday, a neighbor joked about her husband’s anger at not being able to upgrade his phone…because she had purchased a new iPhone for their fifteen-year-old.
I won’t speak on the cost and extravagance of gifts for the young ones, or the near-obsession some parents seem to have with providing the “best” for their children…at any age. I won’t even mention the signs of the times and advancements in basic technology.
What I will say is…it’s Throwback Thursday, and let’s look at the Christmas gifts that made us jump and down!
Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em Robots – my brothers all received these at different ages during different Christmases…and they were always pilfered by my sisters and me!
Operation – everyone’s favorite, and one of the few gifts which required batteries.
Bowling Pins – Yep – bowling pins! Our favorite game was “Bowling for Chores!”
Easy Bake Oven – With six girls in the family, this one was on repeat A LOT! NOTE: This is one of the first oven models. A generation later, a niece received one…and it looked like a real microwave!
Silly Putty, Old Maid Card Game, Pick-Up Sticks – Simply the best stocking stuffers on the planet. Pretty sure I played Old Maid every Christmas morning for a decade!
Mood Rings – OMG! How cool were these?!? Except for the year the ring I received stayed black all the time. I thought it was defective. My mom told me I just needed to lighten up. Decades later, I realize I was Goth long before it was a “thing”.
Slinky – If only we had known beforehand, we would have purchased stock! I think fifty would be a conservative guess of the number of Slinkys that passed through our home.
Highway Truck (and various cars, construction equipment, race tracks and train sets) – Again, items that were received by my brothers, but were always being played with by a girl!
Concentration, Trouble, and Battleship – Always played in teams, with different factions and alliances formed by my siblings, i.e. boys vs girls, older vs younger, cool vs uncool. (Yeah, we went there.)
Etch-A-Sketch and Spirograph – YES! These were two of the gifts that could/would be received by more than one child on any given Christmas – and we loved it! There were endless challenges/matches of artistic ability. I once drew da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” on my Etch-A-Sketch…except it looked more like Weezy from “The Jeffersons.” I didn’t win.
Twister – the ULTIMATE gift, because OUR PARENTS would play with us! Seeing our stiff, six-foot-four father attempting right-foot green and left-hand red, falling, swearing, and calling an end to the game would have us laughing for days…until the next game!
Of course, there was also always, new pajamas, underwear, a new winter coat, books, music, and those wretched matching outfits our mother felt compelled to buy my sister and me. No, we’re not twins.
What stands out the most about the majority of these toys is we had to be ACTIVELY involved. While some could be played alone, the fun was in playing with or competing against another person. (Sibling rivalry can be brutal!) While playing games or with toys, we learned cognitive, motor, and social skills. We learned diplomacy, mediation, and the advantages (and disadvantages) of (sibling) seniority. We learned respect for others and their property. We learned to share. And, we learned our parents held us accountable and to a standard of behavior. All this with Christmas gifts! With nine children in the family, just think about all the birthdays and other gift-giving occasions where these things came into play.
Younger generations may enjoy the benefits of technology with their drones and multi-app devices, but where’s the fun in those?