Remember when Beanie Babies, Power Ranger action figures, and Cabbage Patch Kids made your children shout out with glee on Christmas morning? Through their letters to Santa, parents knew exactly what presents would put ear-to-ear grins on their children’s faces.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Remember when Beanie Babies, Power Ranger action figures, and Cabbage Patch Kids made your children shout out with glee on Christmas morning? Through their letters to Santa, parents knew exactly what presents would put ear-to-ear grins on their children’s faces. Although my husband and I didn’t exactly relish being woken up at the crack of dawn as the kids made a mad dash to the Christmas tree, nothing quite awakens the spirit like watching your sons and daughters feverishly tearing wrapping paper and beaming upon discovering Santa had granted their wishes.
Jena, our eldest, always loved baby dolls. All year long, she’d cradle the soft, cuddly Corolle doll “Santa” had picked up at Miller’s Toys. Later, she gravitated to the American Girl collection. These period dolls, accompanied by books, clothing, and accessories, gave me an endless supply of gift ideas for many a Christmas throughout the 1990s.
Our Jesi, on the other hand, treasured stuffed animals. She carried the plush Gund doggie Santa brought her in the crook of her arm everywhere she went. She may be getting married next year, but she still holds that matted little dog close to her heart. We all do.
For the boy in our family, playing balls were the way to go — Spaldings, Nerf balls, baseballs, basketballs, soccer balls, basically, any sphere that could be bounced, kicked, hit, or thrown. As Jason grew up, I always knew Santa would hit it out of the ballpark with a bat, a tennis racket, or a hockey stick under the tree.
Though I don’t exactly miss standing on stagnant lines at Toys ‘R’ Us, wrapping humongous LEGO boxes into the wee hours, or scrambling for 9 volt batteries on Christmas morning, I do miss the innocence and the joy on our kids’ sweet faces. I also miss knowing exactly what to get them now that they’re all grown up. For years, clothes have been the reliable standby. I’d pick out what I thought was the ultimate fashionable outfit. Then I discovered Murphy’s Law of Christmas, which gives new meaning to “wardrobe malfunction.” Too many factors can go wrong and sometimes all at once — the style, the fit, the color, the size, the fabric. Need I say more? Invariably, a couple of days after Christmas, my “perfect” present is met with, “Mom, do you have the gift receipt?”
Another one of my backups was books. Whether I picked up the latest bestsellers, fashion books for Jena, cookbooks for Jesi, and sport figures’ autobiographies for Jason, I was pretty much guaranteed a thumbs-up. Unfortunately, e-readers have taken the joy out of giving these digital age junkies a page-turner. Who wants a download for Christmas?
Gift cards are always a safe choice and young adults do appreciate them. Moreover, they’re convenient and are available at all of Purchase Street’s boutiques, as well as on-line. However, my problem is that I end up nagging my grown children all year. “Have you used the gift card yet? What do you mean you don’t remember where you put it?” Ugh.
God rest ye merry gentlemen, this mother isn’t giving up that easily. My kids may not be listening for sleigh bells in the snow anymore, but I can still attempt to put a smile on their sweet faces. After all, I’ve spent their whole lives getting to know who they are. Instead of getting them what I think they can’t do without, this year, I’m going to focus on their hobbies and interests, much like I did when they were little.
Jena gave up playing with dolls long ago, but she does enjoy fitness and yoga. I know she has her eyes on lightweight neon-colored sneakers and I know her shoe size, but I could be stepping on a land mine with that one. Have you seen the incredibly broad selection at the Rye Running Company? However, she has admired my Lululemon yoga mat, so I think that’s the way to go. I can treat her to a few classes on the weekends, too.
Embarking on a new phase of life, Jesi thoroughly enjoys cooking. Having transcended her pots and pans, she has expressed interest in making her own pasta and braising short ribs. How could she not absolutely savor a pasta maker and a Le Creuset dutch oven? A gift certificate to her favorite restaurant would be pretty nifty as well.
Staying true to his childhood, 20-year-old Jason still loves sports, particularly playing golf. Last summer, he mentioned something about needing a new driver. Talk about a direct line to Santa! I’ll bring his old one into the golf shop, lest I’m dumbfounded when the professionals start asking me about club faces and shafts. I’ll bring his handicap with me, too. How about tidings of comfort and joy with a new golf shirt and hat as well?
I may not evoke such memorable moments as when the kids opened up a box to find two kittens (Holly and Jingles) or found Tamagotchis (remember those annoying handheld digital pets) in their stockings, but they’ll know Mother Elf had good intentions. Besides, in my wonderland fantasy, one day the magic of Christmas will be resurrected for them by their own kids, my grandkids!