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Around the Holidays, Toys Can Be Our Fondest Link to a Playful Past

But when our kids are grown, what will they have?

Some moms love shoes and purses. For others it's all about the bling.

I confess, I have a thing for toys.

It is a volley on my senses strolling the aisles of a toy store. I am especially nostalgic this time of year when I think back on the toys from my childhood. 

When I was a child, Christmas signaled the arrival of toys. It was the time to be rewarded for good behavior. Our moms did not give in to temper tantrums and fling a toy into the cart to appease us — toys were special, you had to wait for the holidays to enjoy their magic.

The Sears catalogue, the Bradlees flyer, the commercials on Saturday morning television, all showcased the year’s most sought-after toy. We made lists of what we REALLY wanted. We bartered with siblings to include one item on their list when there wasn’t room on our own.

I was a Barbie girl: Suntan Barbie, Skipper, Ken. A shoebox full of clothes to dress them for their next adventure.

Santa brought the orange camper and the fold-out airplane.

To my collection of always smiling dolls, I added Julia — remember the nurse from the TV drama? — the “hippie” Sunshine Family and those cool Dawn dolls.

My sister and I would play for hours with our dolls. The couch was the mountains, a bathroom towel served as a ship to take them on adventures we hoped to have one day.

We channeled our dreams and used our imaginations playing with those plastic friends.

Like opening a time capsule, the toys of holidays past serve as benchmarks of childhood: Silly Putty, Raggedy Ann, Play-Do, Hot Wheels, G.I. Joe, Crissy doll.

I'm having flashbacks.

For my children Teacher Barbie, yellow telephone, Power Rangers, Playmobil, wrestling guys, American Girl dolls, Schleich animals and Breyer horses flash by in the slideshow of their youth. 

Childhood toys seem to be abandoned too soon by our children in favor of video games, iPods, laptops and other big ticket items. This holiday season I hear some third graders are asking for cell phones. 

Grown-up electronics keep replacing the simple toys meant for childhood play. Granted, times have changed and our children “play” differently, but will they remember the playthings of childhood when it’s their turn to be nostalgic? 

Maybe what’s old can be new again?

Why not add a Slinky to their cachet and see what happens. You even get to share a story about how you played with it in the “olden days.”

It’s up to us parents to help make memories for our children. 

This holiday season I plan on cuddling up in my Sock Monkey pajamas as I dream of Little Kiddles dancing in my head.

Maybe if I'm a good girl Santa will bring me a Barbie.

Mary Lyons December 08, 2011 at 12:49 PM
Lynn, what a charming column! I too loved my Barbie and Skipper dolls....but I had only one of each. Now girls have so many. Orange camper and fold-out airplane - wow, fancy. I loved playing paper dolls with my mother and the girl down the street had a wonderful dollhouse that offered hours of imaginative playtime.
Susan Blezow December 08, 2011 at 02:23 PM
Barbies were the best and we didn't grow out of them by second grade. I remember going to Two Guys and the Sears catalogue for gift ideas
Kathleen Enright Gostissa December 08, 2011 at 03:02 PM
Lynn, another GREAT article, I hope you get your Barbie xo
Ashley Bruggemann December 08, 2011 at 06:59 PM
Another great article Mom! I loved the reference to my yellow telephone. If only we could go back to the days of my Barbies....
Ronni Douma December 08, 2011 at 07:33 PM
Really nice article, Lynn.....brought back so many memories and feelings from my youth!! I LOVED my Barbie dolls. What made them even more special was that my mom sewed all their clothes. I still have every outfit!
Emily Abramenko December 08, 2011 at 09:43 PM
That brought back some great memories of pretending that I was on an island (my bed) with my Barbies, crocheting them into "bathing suits" which I then had to cut off them! My youngest does the same and I love listening to her imagination at work. Hope the Barbie is in your stocking.
John J Bruggemann Sr. December 09, 2011 at 04:05 AM
I remember my daughters playing with their dolls and how their faces lit up when they opened up their gifts on Christmas Day.Memories are a wonderful thing es pecially when you grow older.Watch your kids eyes light up when they open their gifts.Yes those were the days we will never forget.Thanks,Lynn,for bringing them back to me.John J Bruggemann Sr.( Pops)
Beth December 09, 2011 at 12:02 PM
Another great article I had to always share my Christmas toys with siblings weather it be dolls or games but we loved Christmas morning !!!!!
Jean Gaviglio December 09, 2011 at 12:48 PM
I loved Little Kiddles! And barbies. And paper dolls. They lived the life I wanted to have one day...and have names I wish I had...like boy names for girls like Billie Joe, Bobbie Joe (from Petticoat Junction). Thanks for bringing back those special memories!
Susan December 09, 2011 at 01:52 PM
I hate to say it but my Barbie Town house is still in the attic, and I don't see my son looking forward to this being "handed down". I keep hoping one day "someone" in my family (insert husband) will get around to electrifying the doll house my grandfather so very lovingly built for me. I suggest everyone take a day during the holiday vacation and pull out all those Brio trains and boxes of Legos. If you close the curtains so no one sees them, your kids will play the old fashioned way, without batteries.
Liz Cascio December 09, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Cabbage Patch Kid Dolls!!! A must for this 80's child! Brings back so many wonderful memories! Thanks for the great article, Lynn. I look forward to reading your column each week!

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