Nostalgic Christmas: Stand-out Gifts

Me (the long brown hair) and my little sister (blonde hair) watching Frosty the Snowman on TV; the two of us sitting by our tree. Haha, these were the late '80s. How stylin'!!

My sister and I remember a lot of gifts we got when we were little... the pink Fisher Price tea set, the furry pets on remote-control leashes that couldn't walk on carpet, the outfits with stirrup-pant leggings!

I got a baby doll one year that came with a bottle - you could tip the bottle upside down and the liquid in it that looked like milk would tip too. I had a couple of Cabbage Patch Kids during one of their popularity surges (one of them had hair you could crimp). I didn't like the names that came on the adoption certificates that the dolls came with, so I just called one of them Cabby. You know, short for "Cabbage." A classic feminine name for sure...

We got Home Alone on VHS one year from our baby-sitter and to this day, it's a favorite movie for me and my sisters. We have a tradition of watching it every Christmas eve, so that's what I'm doing tomorrow! We got a playhouse tent that same year we got Home Alone, just one with a little flap-door. It was printed to look like a treehouse or clubhouse or something, I think. There was lots of hanging out in that tent with my Cabbage Patch Kids.

One year we got those little fashion plate toys where you could change out one of three or four plates, then press a piece of paper over the whole shebang, rub it with a crayon, and get a print that you could then color in with colored pencils. I know any '80s child remembers those! My sister got the fashion plates and I got a greeting card version.

I remember this VIVIDLY but it was another thing where I couldn't remember the name, just the item itself. Google has told me: Precious Places! I had this exact one, a ballet studio. The key had a magnet on it, so you could move the figurine and make it look like it was dancing by itself over the floor. Also, the light inside really lit up. You could join all the houses with plastic roads so the figurines could go visit each other. My sister had one with a green roof.

Several years apart I got teddy bears from my granddad, which I still have.

Also, when I was about nine, he picked me out this copy of The Secret Garden, which to this day is one of my very favorite books. He wrote a note on the inside cover with the date on it in his incredibly tidy handwriting. Sadly, I once let a friend borrow the book and they never gave it back to me, even though I asked them for it repeatedly. I have a different copy now, but I loved the Tasha Tudor illustrations in this edition, and I'm sad I'll never see that note from my granddad again!

Probably my favorite things that I got for Christmas when I was younger, though, are my American Girl dolls.

When I was in fifth grade, I got Samantha, and my memories of this are my most vivid Christmas memories ever, because I was so frightfully excited and had spent so long poring over the American Girl catalogues that were sent to my house. I basically had the entire catalogue memorized but would re-read and re-read it like a favorite book. Felicity was brand new at that point in time and I think they had just rolled out Addy, or did quite soon after that. The next year, I asked for Kirsten, and I got her, and for a couple of years I collected dresses and accessories for them both.

I was a little bit old (ten) to be playing with dolls, possibly... but I didn't really need to play "pretend" with them. I was most extremely attracted to their clothing and how it pertained to their characters and I already liked historical fiction for children... amongst my favorite books were and still are Peter Pan, The Secret Garden, and Little House on the Prairie. The Pleasant Company really knew what they were doing in giving these girls a specific canon. And American Girls dolls were then well-known for their period clothing and detailed accessories. My main pleasures extended from touching their clothes, undressing them and fussing with their underclothing (Samantha had lots of layers of underwear), washing their clothes in the sink, and learning how to do their hair. I learned how to do french braids on my Samantha doll and after taking Kirsten's hair out of her braids, I learned to re-do that hairstyle for her.

I was not a rowdy kid so my girls are still in very good condition, but obviously loved. My Kirsten doll has a condition known as "silver eye" (which looks as creepy as it sounds; one of her eyes has lost its blue) but my Samantha looks fantastic. I posed for a silly picture with her just the other day:

(I was trying to do the "visible front teeth" smile Samantha has!)

Samantha and Kirsten stand in my bookshelf, not too far away from my row of six -- count 'em, six -- Blythe dolls. I didn't really do Barbies and was never really a "doll person" (my mom said I was more apt to be entertained by books or drawing) and am still not into any and all dolls just because they're dolls, but the American Girls dolls captured my heart for a stint of time from when I was 10-13 or so and their clothes made a real impression on me, and now Blythe has done it again but in a completely different way.

Anyway, before you think all my best-loved gifts are fussy, you can't forget about the year I got SPY TECH!


  1. I totally enjoyed reading that!
    Love the photo of your family back in their stock and love the one of your with your American Girl doll! You hair is amazing! Such a pretty pair :D
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

  2. Thanks, Freya! My hair is really long and annoying right now, I usually just pin it back in a bun.

    I hope you had a great Christmas!