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Friday, December 10, 2004 :::

Spoiled Brats

I never got random toys when I was younger. Gifts were restricted to birthdays and Christmas, without exception (unless you had your own money, which with my two-dollar-per-week allowance was nearly impossible). And even on birthdays and Christmas it wasn't like a gift avalanche or anything. It was pretty modest, in fact.

I remember one winter when I was maybe eight years old, my mother told my brother and I that she had a special surprise for us if we were really good, did our chores, and helped her out around the house. At the end of the night, after we had busted our asses all day complying with her every wish, she told us it was time for the surprise. She sat us on the couch with our PJs on, went to the closet, and came back with our reward: The Sears Catalog. Our bonus for the day's exemplary behavior was to browse through the toy section to drool over the pages and pages of stuff we would never dream of actually getting. Mind you, we didn't get to pick out a toy for all of our hard work or anything like that. We just got to look at them. Apparently, to my mother, that was prize enough. And I was so accustomed to not getting random gifts that I didn't even question it for a second.

This is the other end of the spectrum. From
An Arkansas boy who got wind of the Christmas gift his mother bought him allegedly assaulted her and threatened her with decapitation. The 13-year-old demanded that the present be returned and the cash handed over to him, then backed up his demands by picking up a butcher knife with an 8-inch blade and threatening to use it to cut off his mom's head, police said. "He said that all would have been well if she had just bought him the correct present," said the officer who arrested the troubled teenager.

Danny's gifts, age three or four:

See? Look how happy I was with my $1.50 worth of plastic. Oh, and I got a Go-Bot for easter once.

::: posted by dan at 3:21 PM :: [ link ] :: (12) comments Social Bookmark Button

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12 previous comments:

I remember cirlcling thing in the "Best" (same as Sears) catalog in the toy section when I was little. I remember going through pages and pages of stuff I wanted. I never got any of it, but I still liked looking at the catlogue. All I ever wanted was this thing:

By Blogger Biglug, at 4:04 PM  

"Best" was nothing like sears. Trust me, it was my first job. And although I find it hard to believe that it can actually get worse than sears, I know first hand that it does.

By Blogger dan, at 4:13 PM  

Ok, I LOVED the Sears catalogue, looking through it was the only thing to do while at my grandparents house. And yes, the Best catalague in the early 80's was ok (they had one lackluster store here in San Diego) but they pailed in comparison to the Sears wish book. Even better, my sister was able to get a 1977 Wish Book on eBay, and passed it along to me. The little girl on the front had the same Winne The Pooh smock that I wore for my 5th birthday. Good times!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:32 PM  


On one hand, it's cool that you weren't raised to be one of those materialistic "I want I want" kids so that you could be happy with cheaper toys...

But a part of me still says it's mean to tell your kids that the "special treat" you get for being good is the privilege of looking at a bunch of cool stuff you know you'll never get.

By Blogger Dennis!, at 4:39 PM  

I LOVED the Sears catalog when I was a kid. I thought it was so cool that I could circle everything I might want for Christmas. However, now I tried to do that with my 6-1/2 year old so I could get some ideas for what he wants and damn if he didn't circle every toy in thing!! I should just take the route your mom did: Buy him a squirtgun, shovel, and pail, and maybe stuff his stocking with some Ramen noodles (4 for a dollar baby-oh yeah).

By Blogger MommyT, at 4:42 PM  

My mother was the same way. Gifts were relegated to Birthdays and Christmas --that's it (same situation with allowance). That being said I was allowed to drool over the Sears catalog anytime I wished. Seems ever 'crueler' to be exposed to those toys on a constant basis but having no chance in hell of getting them.

By Blogger rich, at 4:46 PM  

First - I had that gun too, Dan! I forgot all about it until now. Little ping pong balls shot out of it. Fun.

Second - I also didn't get much for Xmas but was happy with it all. One year I got a plastic sled, a little car flashlight, a puzzle, a fake Cabbage Patch Kid and my brother and I shared a race track - I thought I was in Xmas heaven.

Third - I didn't realize how universal the memories of the Sears catalog are! It was a tradition to ogle it at my grandparents' house...again, dreaming of toys I'd never own. And we weren't even poor...

Last - Love the red smock against the orange carpet!

By Blogger Kiddo78, at 5:12 PM  

OMG. Is this at our house? I know the couch, I know the carpet but I don't remember this at all! nor do I remember the sears catalog...maybe subconciously I do as I am so quick to tell the kids when the latest toy catalogs come. What is even more funny about this is that Kris and I were just talking about never getting gifts for anything other than b-days and xmas. That is why this year we're skipping xmas. No tree, no decor, no gifts. Vacation counts as a huge present, right? Some guy I don't know told me I was a "cold hearted bitch" when he heard me and another woman talking about how we're both skipping xmas this year.

BTW I was browsing your wish list on Amazon *yawn* do you not have anything other than books and moives that you want for xmas?

By Blogger Colleen, at 6:57 PM  

I have tons of stuff I want besides movies and books and DVDs, I just forget that you can get other stuff that those things at Amazon. I'll go and revise it someday, but you don't need to be getting me a gift anyway.

I'm almost tempted to go get a Sears catalog just to see what type of feelings the toy section creates. I bet it would still be relentless want.

By Blogger dan, at 7:17 PM  

I was a spoiled brat growing up.I got so many presents.Because of that I whine and cry everytime I see anything I want remotely to Greg.Your mom did a good thing,I have already did some damage to poor innocent Michael everytime we go anywhere he chants present,present,present We could be at Cub and I still find a way to spend $20.00 on him.I hope he does not want to decapitate me anytime soon.

Looking at the sears catalog at my Grandma's would have been a huge improvement over what I did when we would visit.I colored on a paper plate and watched little house and wheel of fortune in a dimmly lit room sitting on a orange footstool.We went over there every Wednesday before CCD class.It gives me a sick stomache ache to think about it.

By Blogger Stacy, at 10:02 PM  

Okay, someone mentioned the Sears Wish Book..... wow, that's the ticket. Does anyone remember "The Big Toy Box at Sears?" It was the toy store section of Sears stores in the 1970s. (okay, early '70s)

Dan, you mentioned crappy gifts (or the cruel lack thereof).... but how about crappy gifts you bestowed upon your parents? Remember those homemade nightmare gifts over which your parents faked enthusiasm. As a crafty tot, I handed over the ol' "chore coupon book" (on which I never made good), decoupaged a wine bottle with magazine ads, bought my clean-shaven Dad mustache wax..... you see where I'm going with this.

By Blogger trixietreat, at 11:15 PM  

Do you know why Mom and Dad never bought us random presents? It is so they can waste away in retirement and go on $10000.00 cruises to the Mediterranean, like they will be doing this summer.

You'd think by this post that we were horribly treated children. Couldn't be farther from the truth.

By Blogger Trekgeekscott, at 7:25 AM  

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