Oh those toys that endure

What do you want for Christmas?
We all have asked that question, and have been asked it. I always come up with a blank.
Socks, underwear, fresh tea towels. I just shake my head—coming up with nothing much.
I remember wanting a Wonderful Wendy doll, from the Eaton’s catalogue, when I was six or seven, but had to settle for the Loveable Laurie version because the Wendys were sold out (must have been a Peter Pan year).
I wanted my own pony—my very own rather than my sister’s hand-me-down Shetland that she had outgrown. “Smokey” moved at a pace similar to paint drying, so he wasn’t a happy circumstance of succession.
But wanting my own pinto Welsh pony seemed too extravagant to even whisper about, so I wished into my pillow at night, with my eyes squeezed shut and my heart full of hope.
I didn’t get that exact pony, but I did okay in the horse department as it turns out and eventually I bred my very own pinto Welsh pony when I grew up.
I don’t remember really wanting anything else but the pony, except maybe a “Secret Sam” spy kit that my mother deemed inappropriate or a twin-holster cap gun set that I got when I “was too old for such things,” or so the consensus went.
My brother had an electric train that I coveted privately and silently. I loved the sound and smell of the transformer as the engine left the station, chugging and blowing its whistle round and round the table in a dark corner of our intolerable basement.
I wonder what toys are ageless; which ones span the decades with little change. Crayola Crayons are a classic. I bought myself a 64-pack this year to slip into my own stocking when no one is watching.
I know, it smells of being self-centered, but I’ve wanted a 64-pack since sitting beside Leanne in Grade 3 or Grade 4, so it seemed allowable in a weak moment.
Slinky. Teddy bears, the obvious. A wooden toboggan (a four-seater was a cherished gift, waxed to perfection). An aluminum flying saucer that “went like stink” (my brother’s expression, not mine).
Marbles (nothing like a bag of marbles to beef up the inventory for spring).
What about Sock Monkeys? Didn’t we all have a Sock Monkey? Don’t Sock Monkeys span all time, all Christmas toys? I think so.
My sister and I both had Sock Monkeys. Sherry’s monkey was well-stuffed and plumped with a very happy smile. She called him “Chimpy,” quite a good name.
My monkey was Micky. Micky Monkey. Not exactly of the creative genius standard, but I removed the “e” so I wasn’t plagiarizing Mickey Mouse.
My Micky was thin, his arms looking very much like flattened balloons, and his smile, as a result, was slightly pathetic. But we loved our monkeys, played with them almost constantly, and they never aged, never got worn.
Word on the street is Betty’s has tiny Sock Monkeys that, when launched, make a Tarzan call that very much sounds like Carol Burnett.
I think I want one. I think every home should have one.
I’m sure there were things I ached for, toys I thought I couldn’t live without, but mostly I loved the waiting, the anticipation of something special coming.
I loved the darkness of Christmas Eve, just the lights on the tree, Perry Como crooning on the record player telling his “Night Before Christmas,” when everything was right with the world and I wanted for nothing.
Christmas Eve was far more special than Christmas Day. Christmas Day is about wrapping paper strewn about, the surprises have been extinguished, and the quiet consumed with family and friends.
I hope the memories of old toys and Christmas stories descend on your heart like a warm familiar blanket, and keeps you warm through this whole holiday season.
wendistewart@live.ca

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