Thursday, December 17, 2020

That Other Christmas Catalog

I loved it when the Sears Wish Book came in the mail. I'd spend lots of time going through the toy section over and over again. Eventually I'd mark everything I hoped Santa Claus would bring me and then point  out to my mother which ones I liked the most; which ones I really, really hoped to find under the Christmas tree.

Besides the Sears Wish Book, there was another catalog that came in the mail before Christmas that I really, really liked It wasn't as glitzy or jam packed with pages chuck full of toys and dolls and doll beds and doll clothes and stuffed animals and games and bikes and on and on and on yet I'd get so excited to look through the pages of that catalog-the Miles Kimball Christmas Catalog. I never had to share that catalog with my older brother like I did the Sears Wish Book because he had no interest in it so I was able to sit at my desk in my bedroom and go through it over and over again. I always found things that I considered little treasures, along with so much more that can't be wrapped. Feelings can't be stuffed in a box and put under a tree. 

Unlike the Wish Book, I saved copies of the Miles Kimball Christmas Catalog over the years. Now that I'm older I understand why I did that and why they caught my attention as a little girl. It was a 'feeling' I would get when I saw the catalog in the mailbox. It felt like being home. It felt comfortable. It wasn't just the pages of merchandise that pulled me in. It was that catalog's presentation. It wasn't just selling Christmas. The Miles Kimball Christmas Catalog was embracing Christmas.

From original Christmas artwork on the cover to Alberta Kimball's welcoming letter to all the small boxes of copy all following a theme-spread throughout the pages, that catalog told a story. It was like sitting on your grandmother's knee while rocking in her rocking chair. I could almost smell the sugar cookies baking and hear the wind push the snow against the window panes. It was anticipation and wonder all in one. And that is a gift I will never forget.


Sunday, December 6, 2020

The Old Tin Santa Claus

There was something about the old tin Santa Claus sitting inside an old cardboard box on a wooden shelf in an open outdoor shed that caught my eye. The area was full of one-of-a-kind Christmas wreaths and precious one-of-a-kind holiday decorations like the old tin Santa Claus obviously put together with love and imagination by the woman who owns the acres of Christmas trees where we’ve been going for quite a few years in search of and then the sawing down of our Christmas trees.
I arrived early so while I waited for two certain little ones to get there with their parents I spent some time looking for a tree and wandering about that shed. I noticed the old tin Santa Claus right away despite the fact it was sitting way in the back. Once I was standing in front of him, I knew I’d be taking him home. I didn’t need him. I had no use for him. I realized he’d only be sitting inside his old cardboard box on a shelf or on a table in my home. And that was fine with me. He wasn't fancy or computerized or collectible or signed and numbered by the artist. The old tin Santa was, simply put, simple.
Standing there, I realized that was it. He was simple; created by the putting together of a collection of odds ‘n ends of things-of nothings some would say-and then perched on a wooden shelf in an open outdoor shed that felt more like the North Pole than a shed off on a country road. If you stayed still and took in the moment and remembered that feeling of believing when you were a child; if you allowed your imagination to soar, you’d be convinced those famous reindeer were near and sugar cookies were baking and elves were painting rocking horses and sewing outfits for dolls and knitting mittens and stuffing teddy bears.

I was convinced. I bought that old tin Santa Claus sitting inside an old cardboard box. And now that he has become part of the family, I've figured out what it was, other than his simplicity, that caught my attention.

You see, that old tin Santa Claus reminded me of an old Santa Claus my grandmother would put out on display this time of year. That Santa was simple. He didn't talk or do any tricks. He was just Santa Claus. Santa Claus doesn't need to do tricks. If you believe in him, you just simply Believe.