Chasing Horny Toads Christmas Story–Wish Booking Vs Reality

cht-xmasMmmmmmmmelinda Remembers WishBooking Vs Reality

Now that I was off the Naughty List, however temporarily, there was lots of holiday stuff to do and Mother was in charge.

She was an absolute magician at providing a great Christmas for us year after year on a limited budget. Because she was busy raising three kids, working a part time job and running a household, she had to start her Christmas planning months before December. If what she wanted and could afford wasn’t available in the few local stores, and it usually wasn’t, she would have to travel 100 miles north to Las Vegas or south 165 miles to Phoenix. Consequently, catalogs were her shopping go-to.

The Sears Christmas Catalog, known affectionately as the Wishbook, was our hotline to Santa Claus’ workshop.

It never occurred to me to write a letter to the jolly old elf, because I didn’t know what I wanted for Christmas until I opened that glorious book with glossy pictures of every toy and joy imaginable. Mother loved the hours we kids spent dreaming through that catalog. She encouraged us to choose and compare. Turn down the page corners, scribble crayon circles around favorite toys. But that was just to keep us busy, I realized rather late, like when I was in my twenties.

Mother had already decided what we were each going to get for Christmas. It was with the arrival of the Sears Catalog that she craftily began her campaign to convince us we’d really wanted what Santa brought. And it went something like this:

“Oh, look, Melinda! There’s that beautiful, big nurse doll you like,” Mother exclaimed, pointing to a row of boxed dolls lined up on top of the long produce case at Table Supply Market. “She even has a white uniform and a cap just like Granny’s.”

I dearly loved my maternal grandmother. She was a grand, magical and mysterious woman who delivered babies at midnight and slept in the day. She wore a white dress, a strange hat and a short blue cape that gave her the power to help people, save them, even. I didn’t see my grandmother nearly often enough. And that two-foot tall doll with blue eyes and short honey blond hair didn’t look a thing like her.

But the doll stood inside a blue steamer trunk with Cunard Line stickers on the sides that promised exotic adventure.

Nurse doll, Kathy Kay showed up under the tree one Christmas morning, though I didn’t remember asking for her or any other doll. But Santa Claus always knows what often-good little girls want, Mother explained.

He sure did! My eyes locked on that exciting blue steamer truck full of beautiful clothes on little pink hangers—velvet bodice on a plaid taffeta long formal gown, a dotted Swiss nightie with robe, a red, white and blue checked coat with bonnet that went with a navy blue pleated shirt and white top, a yellow corduroy three piece travel suit, and a pink and white dress with matching tam.

Mother said that my Auntie Evelyn had sewn all the pretty clothes for Nurse Kathy because Santa didn’t have time. I briefly pondered the logistics of that arrangement, but soon got lost in packing and unpacking that magnificent steamer trunk in imaginary glamorous ports of call, while the barefoot doll shivered in her white underpants in the closet

So began my lifelong love affair with luggage.

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