Whatever happened to …

… those classic toys?

Thanks to Sheila Stewart, I really enjoyed this story The types of toys parents were scrutinizing at Christmas in 1954.

Now, this was certainly before my time but it’s still so interesting to take a look at it.

It told a story of a simpler, less hassle free Christmas. It reminds me of a childhood where there was a stocking filled with candy under the tree and a gift. Christmas was seemingly less commercial at the time; so much time was spent agonizing over all that was available in the Eaton or Simpson-Sears catalogue and making that perfect choice to give.

It was a task that was not taken lightly. We created (and hid) a list of ideas – I was brainstorming before brainstorming was a thing – and then made the cuts to get the perfect gift for my brother and parents based on what I thought they’d like but more importantly, what I could afford.

It was always a big production because subsets of the family had to be organized so that we could make the purchase and keep it secret from the intended gift opener. Then, there was how to hide it in a bedroom closet before sneaking downstairs to wrap it.

Any actual gifts that were purchased are forgotten by me now except for one that was mentioned in the story. Not the doll, but it was the gyroscopic top. The one I bought for my brother was yellow with a black foot. The internals were very heavy and I was always curious to see what made it work. While I did buy it for him, I’ll admit that I spent a lot of time with it.

My other memory about that was that it was inexpensive but didn’t feel cheap. These days so much you see for sale looks cheap even though it often isn’t.

The best gift for me as a child had to be my first bicycle. How Mom and Dad kept it from me until Christmas Day is still a mystery. A bike for Christmas when you’re living in the snow belt? Gifts were things that we got for a purpose and with an August birthday, I guess Christmas was the more appropriate day!

For a Sunday before Christmas, you thoughts via comment please…

  • do you remember Christmas shopping as a child? Did you have a favourite store or catalogue?
  • how did you keep presents a secret from the curious/anxious?
  • do you wrap your own gifts or are they store wrapped? Or maybe you use holiday bags instead?
  • do you still have the tradition of the holiday stocking? Do you have one with your name on it? (I do but apparently it’s filled and hidden at the moment)
  • when you have a new member to your family, do they get their own stocking?
  • what was the best gift you ever got as a child?
  • what was the best gift that you gave as a child?

Please take a moment and share your thoughts as you get ready for the big day next week.

This is part of a regular Sunday series. You can check them out here and please share any ideas for a future post.

This blog post was originally posted at:

If you find it anywhere else, it’s not original.

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

6 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …”

  1. Doug, what a fantastic topic for this holiday season! I had interesting Christmas experiences, as I’m Jewish, but I started to celebrate Christmas when my mom married someone who’s not Jewish when I was in Grade 8. All of a sudden, we got to take on some of their family’s Christmas traditions, including each being in charge of someone else’s stocking, opening just one present on Christmas Eve, and taking turns opening presents together on Christmas Day. I wrap my own gifts, but am not the best at them, so tend to choose gift bags instead. I vehemently refuse to go to the mall over the holiday season, and learned from my step-dad how much can be bought at Shopper’s Drug Mart and Indigo. 🙂 Gift cards and books are two of my favourite gifts to give and to receive. I’m not the most creative gift giver, but with online shopping, I have even more gift options without going near the dreaded mall. Could you imagine me parking there?! 🙂 Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I always look forward to these weekly posts.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the comment, Aviva. In Grade 8, you probably understood what was going on. I would wonder if you were a great deal younger when it happened whether confusion would set in.

    I grew up in a town where all of the religious places were a variation of Christianity although we didn’t all celebrate Christmas the same way at the same time. I remember a lesson from Sunday School where our teacher (the Minister’s wife) had a lesson about the different between Christmas, the Holiday and Christmas, the Religious Observance. It’s a lesson that was relevant then but paid off when I became an educator in a fairly diverse community. The first time it really clicked in was first year university when there were some students that didn’t go home over the Christmas Break because it wasn’t seen as a holiday by them.

    Some day, you’re going to have to show me your parking ability. To date, you just have shared the stories! But, no sane person likes parking at the mall this time of year! (well, according to my rules of engagement!)

    I hope that you’re enjoying your holiday/celebration(s).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So many holiday traditions at this time of year. I can remember the excitement when the Sears Wish Book would arrive, although it seemed to arrive earlier and earlier each year. I remember buying a beautiful cardigan for my mom one year for Christmas. I had a part time job and enough money to buy really nice gifts. I knew she would love it because it was all her favourite colours at the time – golds, browns, and cream. Unfortunately it was pure wool and incredibly itchy. That was the year I learned about the importance of keeping receipts.


  4. Thanks Doug! A younger age might have made a difference. I grew up in a community though where 95% of the students were Jewish. Kids who were not Jewish used to take off the Jewish holidays, as the public school was empty. A total reversal from my now reality. As such, we all grew up in Kindergarten knowing that there was no Santa Claus, but being told to keep that a secret. And we did. Given this reality then, even if I started celebrating Christmas at an earlier age, I’m not sure that I could have bought into the same beliefs, even if I may have (and do) enjoy the celebrations. Our discussion here is making me wonder if I have a blog post of my own brewing … 🙂

    As for my parking, I will say, I’m much worse with an audience. The afternoon caretaker at my school can attest to that. He got a special show the other day, and it wasn’t pretty. 🙂 There wasn’t even snow to make the lines invisible. 🙂

    Merry Christmas! Thanks for the great discussion this morning!


  5. Smiling here, Lisa. I can’t handle wool at all although, if you recall, I wore a lot of them to work. Fashion giveaway, I always wore them over a t-shirt or a dress shirt with the collar popping out the top!

    I’m not a fan of wool socks either!


  6. Glad you enjoyed the story/history. The Sears and Eaton’s catalogues were the much awaited for mail delivery in my younger years as well. Oh, the dreaming and prioritizing… and the circling of items and dog-eared pages!

    I love wrapping gifts. I try to use paper and ribbons mostly, but I can easily get tired and/or lazy and go for the gift bag option.. with lots of ribbons still!

    After our girls reached their 20s, I decided to “phase out” stockings. I wasn’t too popular with this unilateral decision at first, but it quickly became a new normal. We still have our personalized stockings though. I think a lot of “stocking stuffer” type things end up in gift bags still though.

    I have many good memories of receiving the perfect doll or outfit, but also a full piece “snow-machine” suit! It was green — I loved it! As for giving, I remember finding and putting together a stocking for my mother with all her favourite little things and treats. She seemed very pleased and touched and surprised.

    I love finding the right gift for family members… I start watching for items in the fall of each year.. in the stores.. before the busy season!

    Merry Christmas, Doug! Hope you have some nice new surprises and memories to cherish!


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