Last night J and I watched the 1960s episode of a History Channel program called “Christmas Through the Decades.” Both J and I were born at the end of the 1960s, so many of the advertisements, toys, and other pop culture artifacts mentioned on the show figured prominently in our 1970s childhoods. (Throughout my childhood and into my teens, for instance, I grew up with an aluminum Christmas tree my parents had bought when such trees were all the rage.)
One of the quintessential Christmas touchstones mentioned on the show was the Sears “Wish Book” catalog that children of our generation used to pore over like Scripture in the months leading up to Christmas. Both J and I have vivid memories of paging through paper catalogs, making a mental list of the items we wanted. For J, Radio Shack catalogs were his preferred wish book, and for me, the Service Merchandise catalog pictured all the toys I could ever hope for. Although I knew better than to confront Santa with a long wishlist–Santa, like my parents, was frugal and tended to bring whatever toys were on clearance–simply looking at a well-illustrated catalog was almost as good as actually receiving the toys you wished for, the toys in your imagination never growing old or wearing out.
Nowadays, I toss Christmas catalogs directly in the recycling bin, finding it much easier to browse and shop online. But in today’s mail, J received a catalog and calendar from L.A. Burdick Chocolate, and I swiftly claimed both. Just as a small child can spend hours poring over pictures of toys in a catalog, I as an adult can easily fill an afternoon looking at calendar-quality food porn.