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Thinking about Christmas

It’s not even Halloween yet, and I got a Christmas catalog in the mail the other day. Well, a “holiday toy catalog,” to be precise. But whatever it is called, it brought back a flood of memories. I flipped through it, wondering whether there were any ideas for the youngsters in my life, and almost automatically grabbed for a black marker to circle items of interest.

That was the way it was done, you see. Every Thanksgiving, Gran would hand us the J.C. Penney and Sears catalogs and tell us to grab a marker and circle what caught our eye. So the four of us cousins would flop onto the carpet in front of the little gas stove while our great uncle would deposit himself in the recliner in front of a football game.

He was paying more attention to us than it seemed, however, because if we would turn too far out of the toys and kids clothes (say, for example, if my male cousin would flip into the women’s undergarments section …) our great uncle would say “What are you asking Santa for in there?!”

And yes, for a few years we all thought we were just giving ourselves ideas for a list to present to Santa. It took a while to sink in that the marked up catalogs were left on Gran’s dining room table for her to pick and choose from later.

But we had a ball — in a way that shouldn’t be misting me up right now, but it is — and while none of us ever received ALL the stuff we circled, there was always an item or two mixed in with the socks, books and new coats.

It’s been decades since I flipped through a catalog before Christmas. And I know why, of course. We got older and the Internet arrived. A kid can search for every toy in the universe in front of a computer screen, now. If they write a list to Santa, it’s as likely to be emailed as written by hand; and parents can text the same list to grandparents in a nanosecond.

There’s nothing wrong with that. In many ways it’s easier for just about everyone (except maybe Santa’s IT elf.)

Still, it was nice. To sit for a minute and think this time about what might make someone else react to a gift the way I did to some of the ones that came as a result of those catalog-and-marker sessions.

Christmas is going to be different this year. There’s just about no way around it. But if this is one of the ways in which it is different — if we slow down a little, turn back time a bit, think more about ways to do it smaller rather than as big as possible, feel a little more the way we did when folks who are now with us only in spirit were with us over in the recliner instead … well, that might be OK.

***

A note about the response to last week’s column, which was greater than any I have received in 6 1/2 years in this job. First, sir, you are absolutely correct about the double standard, and I am grateful to you for letting me know you understood what I was saying about the difference between calling Ross Perot’s attempts to stop an interrupter “adorable,” and calling Kamala Harris’s attempts to stop an interrupter “rude,” etc. Thank you for the voicemail.

Second, among the words used by those who were genuinely bothered by my column were “nasty,” “disgusting” and “harpies.” Folks, if you don’t see the irony, I can’t help you.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com

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