When I was a kid, the next best thing to Christmas day was the day the Sears Wish Book was delivered.
For those too young to remember, or even know what I’m talking about, the wish book was massive catalog from what was then perhaps the biggest retailer in the known universe.
If my memory is to be trusted, the Wish Book was a good 3 to 4 inches thick, and full of dazzling color photos of every imaginable type of clothing, tool, appliance, musical instrument and, most importantly, toy.
The day the Wish Book appeared in the mail was always a glorious one. My parents would hand me the catalog and tell me to circle the things I wanted Santa to bring me. I’d dive in, in a complete reverie, and, not being shy about it, circle almost anything that caught my fancy just in case Santa had some extra room in his sled that year. I knew I wouldn’t get everything I highlighted, but I made sure my parents knew what the really important items were, so they could pass that info along to the North Pole.
From there, it was all about the anticipation of finding those toys I’d circled in the catalog under the tree on Christmas morning. I’d still keep the Wish Book close by as the days passed so I could flip through it and keep everything fresh in my mind.
I realize now, but didn’t then, how fortunate I was that I usually got most of what I wanted for Christmas. Back then, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about those who weren’t so fortunate.
Much older now, I find myself missing the simplicity and magic of getting that Wish Book and dreaming about Christmas day. I think the Wish Book may still be around in some form or another, but I doubt many people still use it. I know it doesn’t show up in my mailbox anymore.
I suppose the closest modern equivalent to the Wish Book is online shopping. The online option isn’t bad; and, honestly, it’s more preferable to me than actually setting foot inside a store. But, like so many things we look back on through our rosy, nostalgia glasses, it just isn’t the same. And for the same reasons that I’d rather read an actual book than an electronic one, I prefer the turning of pages in a catalog to the scrolling and clicking of a mouse.
Now that I do my own Christmas shopping, I do much of it online. The mail order catalog industry ain’t what it used to be. I do try to avoid stores whenever possible; especially with the increasingly obnoxious human feeding frenzy that is “Black Friday,” and the residual craziness that follows. Getting into a shoving match over the latest Xbox is not something I’m the least bit interested in.
Maybe I’ve become an old fogy, but I miss the calmer, gentler catalog days.
Oh Wish Book, where art thou?