Sears Roebuck, Amazon.com, and Christmas

Christmas, Sears and Amazon

It’s Christmas! Boy, it rolls around faster and faster every year.

I won’t go into the religious aspect of Christmas as that is a subject for another day. But, I can’t help but think about the Christmases past in Sandy Point.

Kids, today, see Christmas through a different set of lenses and I am not sure if they have the same anticipation that kids once did for finding presents under the tree on Christmas morning.
It seems like its “Christmas” all the time for them.

Not having small children around any more, I am out of touch, no doubt from when our kids were small. And our grandchildren are now teenagers and I am even further behind the times, perhaps.

For the past several Christmases, due to my personal circumstances and my wife’s not being engaged in the process any more, I have resorted to gift cards. When I seek help in “what would the kids like for Christmas?” I get an “I’ll get back to you” response. I keep hearing no one wants gift cards. So I took matters in my own hands.

I sent a text (see, I am not totally out of touch) and asked them each to let me know what they would like for Christmas. 5 Grandchildren. Three replied immediately: An Amazon Gift card would be great, they said. So much for the not liking gift cards view. One said a gift card or a phone case. I opted for the phone case but I did not know a phone case like she wanted cost $85. On one, I took a gamble and got something I thought he might want.

We never heard a lot about “Amazon” in Sandy Point. Amazon was either a big strong female character or it was a place in a geography book with jungles and snakes and crocodiles.

Where did we look for the things we wanted? The Sears and Roebuck catalog. Yeah, I know everyone calls it Sears now, but back then it was Sears and Roebuck. They had a big catalog that came out sometimes in the Fall and Spring and then there was a Christmas catalog, too, I believe. It got looked at by everyone! We learned a lot from the Sears and Roebuck catalog and all the orders went to Chicago, Illinois by mail. Can you imagine! No phone, no 800 numbers, and certainly no internet!

The Sears and Roebuck catalog was not the only one, either. There were Montgomery Ward and J.C. Penny’s catalogs, too.

The pages started getting little dog ears. Each person had their favorite pages and folded the corner of the page down to make it easier to find. The motor scooters was looked at often although we were never going to get one and never did. The gun page and fishing rods were others. Ted Williams and JC Higgins were names that everyone knew back in the day. Allstate was more than insurance, it was a car, too. The ladies looked at clothes and dresses and stuff like that. Looking and shopping and turning down the pages was more personal and close to the heart than sitting at the computer. It was a diversion, it was a wish list and it touched a nerve in the soul! Something to look forward to. Anticipation! Not the automatic button pushing and non emotional Amazon experience, no matter how convenient.

Black Friday! No one ever heard about it. The big day was when those catalogs came and shopping for Christmas started and it may have been October!

Maybe we are better now. Maybe life is better, shopping better, products better. Maybe.

But I don’t look forward to Christmas like I did when the Sears and Roebuck catalog was around. There is a Sears just up the street and I was in there yesterday. My heart did not flutter and I did not feel any great excitement. Not like when that catalog came in the mail! And, you know, my grandchildren will likely never experience that and it takes more and more to get them excited once they get about 8 years old. They are bombarded with ads and pop ups and everything is a click away. I hope that joy is still around to be experienced and shared! Regardless of the amount of money spent or the items received, we had something special that we looked forward to, and more importantly, remembered. How long do our kids today remember Christmas and what they got? My suspicion: not long. But if they feel that love and affection that can come only from the family, they may have memories for a lifetime. People that will be remembered after the toys are in the trash.

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But I still have my electric train that I got when I was eight years old and I get it out about once a year and ride it back in time. For just a few minutes.

JC©2016

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