“All I Want for Christmas”


I actually had lost my two front teeth just before Christmas when I was six. This allowed me to happily sing the tune “all I want for Chrithmath is my two front teeth.” But other years the next best thing was the Sears Christmas catalog. It arrived in November and my brother and later my sister and I fought over getting to read it. It kept us endlessly entertained, though it had little effect on what we actually received for Christmas. In general we would get a couple of books, some new pajamas, some candy and a couple of toys. Certainly not as many as we had discovered we wanted from being exposed to the bounty of the Sears catalog.

The catalog was absolutely gender specific, with a section for girls and a section for boys. Sears made it abundantly clear that girls play with dolls, play house, draw and paint. Boys were to dress like cowboys, shoot guns and play outside. No discussion ensued about the distinctions. If you wonder about the vehement insistence when my boomer generation became parents on “gender neutral” toys, it began here. Every boy who wanted a doll and couldn’t have one and every girl who wanted a bb gun and was denied made a movement characterized by Marlo Thomas singing “free to be me.”  Among many children my daughter’s age, however, most kept happily going for the toys Sears had suggested for them when I was a kid,  with boys using sticks for guns and girls making dolls out of odds and ends. But at least we had told them they had a choice!

19 thoughts on ““All I Want for Christmas”

  1. My grandchildren have been, through my daughter’s best endeavours, raised with gender neutral choices made for them. With regard to toys and games, they have been encouraged to do whatever they feel will make them happy. After 7 years I finds my grandson has an interest in fighting games with aliens and my granddaughter likes anything pink with a princess or unicorn attached to it. Perhaps genes still influence our choices more than we might imagine


  2. The one Christmas present I hated to receive as a child was clothes. My family from Britain always sent me new clothes for Christmas and I was instantly disappointed whenever I saw them. I wanted toys!

    I was one of those girls who were frequently denied boys’ toys. I remember my mom’s response to my request for a game boy. “Do you see the two words? Game? And boy? Are you a boy?” I fumed for weeks!

    She also refused to buy me a chemistry set, a robot, and a remote control car I wanted. She said they were for boys. Instead, she gave me dolls. She said when she was my age that’s all she wanted and she couldn’t understand why I didn’t want them too.


      1. I didn’t have a brother so I didn’t have that luck. I did have older cousins though and they would let me play with their toys or even use me as an extra when they needed one for video games. 😂 I never broke anything and I managed to keep up with them, so they gladly brought me along on all their big boy adventures, haha. The youngest was 5 years my senior.


  3. I loved that catalog and pored over it every year looking for just the right thing. It’s funny that while I remember looking at it many years in a row, I only remember one specific thing I wanted: It was the late 1970’s and I wanted a three piece suit. I thought they looked so cool. I’m not sure what I would’ve done with one had it actually arrived under the tree, but it didn’t matter.

    To this day I haven’t worn one – and really, very rarely dress up for anything. I think it’s been four years since I’ve even worn a tie.


    1. I liked the ball gowns. I have never had one either. My brother liked the women’s underwear(to look at, not wear) since this was before any available images of underdressed women were available to a curious boy.

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