A Look Back on the Glorious Presents of Christmases Past

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I  believed in Santa well into middle school. Of course, I had my doubts. I wondered how he could fly to billions of homes in a single night or slide down such narrow chimneys when he clearly loved cheese. But my dad’s decision to climb onto the roof on Christmas Eve and stomp around left me believing. I had heard him and it was hard to reason with that.

Eventually, I admitted that the big man in the red suit was my ladder-carrying father in suspenders and I reconciled that St. Nicholas was not real (at least not in the toy-toting, flying reindeer sense). This was a mistake on my end, a mistake likely discovered by other children in my shoes: Once you stop believing in Santa, he stops bringing you toys and instead brings you shit like contact lens cleaner.

But the toys, oh the toys, were glorious while they lasted. This is especially true for kids who grew up in the 1980s as I did. It wasn’t just Transformers that were more than meets the eye; it was all of them.

In fact, some of my favorite Christmas presents of yore include:

Cabbage Patch Kids: We’ll just ignore the strange fact that Cabbage Patch came out with an entire line of premature babies and instead focus on the OG product. I, like so many, asked Santa for a Cabbage Patch doll and he delivered. It seemed like a good idea at the time but since I was such a tomboy, I ended up not playing with the doll much at all. I liked its clothes though – I used to make my dog wear the jogging suit.

Teddy Ruxpin: Teddy Ruxpin is a legend but he certainly had a lot of stalker tendencies. He really, really, really wanted to your friend and would not shut up about it. Turning himself on in the middle of the night only helped him climb the ranks on the creep-o-meter. Nonetheless, he perseveres and a newer, high-tech version exists on the market today. It’s so fancy he could now go by “Theodore” instead.

Care Bears: Among my sisters and me, we had every Care Bear on the market (we even had the Grandma Bear and the Care Bear cousins). We built most of our kingdom with the help of Christmas Day – I vividly remember when Sunshine Bear was first waiting for me underneath the tree.  Care Bears still exist, though they aren’t the same as they once were. Regardless, may the giant rainbow slide, the Caring Meter, the Care-a-Lot Castle, and the Forest of Feelings live on in our hearts forever. Care Bear Stare on three!

Lite-Brite: Lite-Brite may have been the enemy of vacuum cleaners everywhere, but it was magical at the time. It gave us a chance to see our creativity come to life and experiment with exactly how hot those bulbs could get before they left a mark. The new version comes with a much-needed storage case.

Snoopy Sno-Cone Maker: The magic of the Snoopy Sno-Cone Maker was not in the slush maker itself but in the rubber snowman that contained the cherry syrup. Add a little ice, use the hand crank, pour on the syrup, and – wah-la – you have a delicious summertime treat.  Throw in an Easy-Bake Oven and you’ll never have to buy cooking supplies again.

Toys come in and into our lives in the blink of an eye. Before we know it, we’re not waiting for Santa but playing the role. And, while childhood holidays will always have a special place in our memories,  putting on the proverbial red suit has its own rewards. Those chocolate coins I’m putting in my daughter’s stocking? I’ve already started eating them.

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