Yes, like the arrival of Santa Claus himself, the arrival of the Sears and JC Penney Christmas catalogs was an event unto itself.
The hefty catalogs, which could have been used as lethal weapons in the right hands, were filled with toys.
Toys that we wanted!
Toys that we could never afford and, most importantly, toys that would soon appear under our Christmas tree.
Sure, the first half of both catalogs were filled with boring stuff … clothes, jewelry and furniture, but that didn’t even bother us as we flipped past the “sizing chart” section and began circling everything on our want list.
The big Christmas catalogs are pretty much a thing of the past now.
No longer can I drool over a double-page spread of Star Wars toys or dream about an awesome telescope that would let me see to Mars. And my sister, she won’t be demanding a Bionic Woman action figure thanks to a well-thought out layout.
I say “pretty much a thing of the past” because both Sears and JC Penney offer a slimmed down version of their Christmas catalog. Sears’ Wish Book is exclusively online, but maintains much of the spirit of the originals … you can still find a twin-sized race car bed and a Radio Flyer hobby horse.
JC Penney on the other hand offers a slimmed down version of the catalog for free at their stores. Or you can just jump to the online versions.
Inside these new ones are the familiar kid-sized drum sets and motorized construction sets.
And even though it’s really before my time as a consumer, I got a charge out of flipping through a 1976 catalog on Flickr.
Even more astounding is that the same catalogs are collectible now. Ebay currently has hundreds listings for old Christmas catalogs, and quite a few have bids.
That’s not too shabby, and proof once again that the holidays really are more about memories than the newest gizmo and lust for a heap of presents.