The first Christmas my husband and I were engaged, we spent the afternoon with his grandparents. Shortly after we arrived, his grandma shuffled off into her bedroom and re-emerged in short order with a stapled stack of paper, probably about 15 or so pages. "I thought you'd want to see this," she chuckled. I figured it was a story my husband had written for her, or a weirdly printed out collection of baby pictures, but before I could even read the first line, my husband knew exactly what it was. "Is that one of my old Christmas lists?"
It was. A 15-page, typed out, single spaced Christmas list. And apparently this was just one in a childhood full of such catalogs. It was as though every toy he had so much as heard about over the course of the year wound up on there. My man liked to cast a wide net, and while he never got everything on his list, he usually got a respectable haul. In my house, Christmas was always fun, but my brothers and sister and I were never at risk of having an avalanche of presents crush us. As such, my lists were pretty modest (compared to my husband, I was a damn monk), but they were imbued with the hope and whimsy that only a '80s/'90s baby, raised at the height of toy marketing could conjure. Nowadays, my lists run much more practical: I'm pretty sure I've put "underwear" on there because, hey, a girl needs underwear and sometimes she doesn't feel like going underwear shopping.
Join me as I remember favorite wishes of days gone by (and realize what a boring adult I've become).
Kid Me: A Talkboy
As soon as I saw Kevin McCallister scheme his way into a luxury suite at the Plaza Hotel with the help of a Talkboy in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, I wanted one. And I had plans for that thing. Big, big plans. I would be able to trick every single person in my life into doing my bidding. There would be no end to the wacky hijinks. This would somehow all be accomplished by slowing down the things I'd recorded (because a 8 year old's slowed down voice on a tape recorder somehow sounds like like an adult).
Whatever. If I'd ever gotten it, I'm sure I would have figured it out, but I guess no one loved me enough to get it. Buncha filthy animals.
Adult Me: Aster & Bay Green Glow Face Mask
I am obsessed with this entire product line, but this particular item is on my list this year because I'm almost out of my first jar. Among its selling points are that its ingredients are so simple: four green superfoods and French green clay. It makes for a fabulous skin care product but, if I think about it reductively, I'm like, "I'm literally asking for chopped up vegetables and dirt for Christmas."
Kid Me: All The 'Babysitter's Club' Books
When I was in grade school, I downed these suckers like Don Draper tossed back Old Fashioneds. I needed them all — all of them I tell you! How many Babysitters Club books were there, you ask? Lucky for us uberfans (aka, about 75% of all woman born in the 1980s) there were 131, not including the Super-Specials and Mysteries. (My personal favorite was Super Special #6: New York, New York.)
By the way, was your favorite babysitter Claudia? No? Then I'm sorry, we have absolutely nothing we could possibly talk about.
Adult Me: Starbucks
Specifically a Starbucks gift card. I am going to spend way too much money on this overpriced milk, sugar, and caffeine anyway, in spite of my annual New Year's Resolution to stop spending so much money at Starbucks, so it would be great if you could help a sister out on this. And you know what? Save the environment: Just send me a digital card, since I'm going to put whatever you give me on my Starbucks app anyway. Is it sentimental or personal? No. But it's what I want.
Kid Me: Skip-It
Of all the physical activity I participated in as a child, I'm going to go ahead and guess that approximately 47% of that was Skip-It based. That thing was basically attached to me from March until November for a few years. Skip-It was amazing because, for a completely unathletic kid like me, the very easy to use toy made me feel crazy accomplished. Like "I BLEW PAST THE COUNTER 300 SKIPS AGO! I AM A GOLDEN GOD!"
Adult Me: Gift Cards
Again, it's crass but it's the truth: I just want the freedom to buy things on my terms that I do not have without the financial support of friends and family members like you. Gift cards at least give you, the gifter, the opportunity to let me know where you'd like to see me spend your money. Of course, if you want, go ahead and just give me cash. I'd be down with that. I could lie to you and give you other things to get me, but I really just want money to spend when and where I want. Of course, I would never outright ask for cash, because it's vulgar and grabby, but know that I'm secretly hoping for it every Christmas... and also, like, every time I walk down the street. I sort of just daydream that my moxie and charming personality catch the eye of an eccentric billionaire who's like, "I like your style, kid!" and elaborately hurls wads of cash at me.
Kid Me: Power Wheels
What kid did not, at some point, dream of owning a Power Wheels car? But this one was too cool. So cool, in fact, that it struck me as unattainably cool and I never even asked for it. That didn't stop one silent tear from rolling down my cheek any time the commercial came on. The pain of never getting one for Christmas was ameliorated by the fact that I grew up in the Northeast, and so would had to have waited several months for the weather to be warm enough to routinely tool around in my bitchin' Power Wheels.
Adult Me: A Wallet
You know, someplace to put all this money I'm asking for. This is a symbolic stand-in for all the practical items on our list that we nevertheless get really excited about. I got a gorgeous wallet from my mother-in-law two years ago and I'm still stoked about it. But, looking at my son's whimsical, magical list and then thinking, "One of the most exciting things I got recently was a wallet," makes me question what the hell happened to my sense of wonder. You guys: When did something like a wallet become a gift? Like, if someone had given me a wallet when I was little, I'd be like, "What the hell crap are you trying to pull here? WTF am I supposed to do with a wallet?" I mean... it's a wallet. It's something that holds stuff that you keep in a bag that holds other stuff. And this is, no sarcasm, deeply thrilling. But why?
Kid Me: An American Girl Doll
I feel like many kids have a Christmas when they have their "Red Ryder BB Gun Moment." That glorious moment when you open the one gift you've longed for more than anything all year. For me, that one gift — the greatest Christmas gift I've ever received — was my Samantha doll. These dolls were mad expensive: almost $100, and this was in the early '90s, so I knew hoping for it was a gamble. Christmas morning came and went and Samantha was not under the tree. My grandparents came and went and still nothing. As bedtime approached, my uncles arrived, very late, with a box under their arm. I can still remember the wrapping paper: photo-realistic bells. I tore it open and lost. my. sh*t.
Adult Me: Spa Services
Because duh. I'm a mom of two, to whom a shower often feels like a spa trip. An actual spa trip is like an out-of-body experience. I don't think you'll find a group of people who appreciate (or need) spas more than moms. Unless the woman in your life specifically tells you she doesn't like spas, this is never a bad option.
Kid Me And Adult Me: A Lightsaber
Because I don't care how the hell old you are, you want a lightsaber. This Christmas, my son and I will both close our eyes and wish for a real one, but he'll be happy with the toy we got him and I'll be happy living vicariously through him.