COLUMN: Cherishing Christmas gifts and memories

If there was a doll that was marketed as ‘the gift of the year,’ you can bet it was the doll that I wanted

I remember myself as a little girl, circling half of the toy section in the Sears Christmas catalogue with a bright blue Bic pen.

The pink half.

I was pretty dedicated to the job, and steadfast in my longing for prettily-wrapped gifts. That book was an essential key to my childhood happiness, and as the only girl in the family, those pages filled with pink and purple and yellow were my territory, and mine alone.

The memory of this version of myself surprises me, because I never was much of a girly-girl, per se. But if there was a doll that was marketed as ‘the gift of the year,’ you can bet it was the doll that I wanted. My prized possessions over that sweet decade of girlhood consisted of celebration-edition Barbies, rope-haired Cabbage Patch dolls, delicate porcelain babies swaddled in satin, Strawberry Shortcake and the gang, a stable full of My Little Ponies, and even the cute-as-a-button Pound Puppies.

And yes, my wish lists included all the accessories that those dolls required!

And I was a lucky child, as Santa almost always delivered. In fact, I can’t think of a Christmas that I walked away from the tree disappointed.

That’s all it took to make my Christmases. As I can recall, I just wanted that one gift, a few oranges in my stocking, chocolates and candy canes, and my holiday would be full. I loved each and every one of them, and I still have a few of these cherished gifts in my house to this day.

So, was I materialistic? Did that once-a-year caving into my princess-like whims make me spoiled? Hardly. But it sure set the stage for what’s been a lifelong love of Santa Claus, and all things North Pole-inspired.

I’m sharing this with you now, because the calendar has flipped over to my favourite month of the year. I can safely and without falter celebrate Christmas and everything it means to me.

And surprisingly, it has nothing to do with dolls. It doesn’t even really mean presents. Even though I can recall the gut-wrenching “I-want-that-so-much” feeling kids go through around the holidays, I can remember the moments even more.

Moments like walking through knee-deep snow to cut down a tree, and breathing in that fresh mountain air where you can almost hear the snow and ice twinkling. I can remember waking up to find a stocking at my feet and just loving my mother all the more for it.

I remember scrambling for my favourite side of the car to count houses with lights, an annual competition with my older brother. I remember golden turkeys, cranberry sauce, and singing carols on the hearth of my grandparents’ fireplace.

Last week, the kids started asking me what I wanted for Christmas this year. As I turned 40 this year, and have everything I could possibly need, I can’t think of anything but “more memories.”

I’m not sure how they’ll wrap they’ll wrap those for me, but I’m looking forward to opening them as they come along.