The Magic of a SEARS Christmas

Do you remember the magic and euphoria of a SEARS Christmas? Every calendar year revolved around Christmas. You know this is true. As the leaves began to fall and evenings became crisp along with the aroma of woodsmoke in the air – we began to think of the approaching holidays with great anticipation.

Christmas was coming…

Seems the excitement began on Halloween Night when neighbors came together to hand out candy to kids in the neighborhood. There were Halloween parties. That was when neighbors actually knew one another. If you acted up, someone was going to tell your parents. I can tell you from firsthand experience this is true. Sometimes, we’d venture out beyond our street where people didn’t know us. Approaching each front door was a different experience. You never knew who you were going to meet.

Halloween would pass and the SEARS Christmas Wish Book arrived in the mail like clockwork. We’d fan through the pages dreaming of what we wanted for Christmas. Because I was a total dork, I loved Christmas lights even more than the presents. I’d grab the Wish Book and page to the holiday decor to look at lights. I loved the colors and couldn’t wait to see what they looked like live and in person. I’d wander the aisles at SEARS, look at the lights and decorations, and marvel at the magic of electricity – a white hot filament inside a colorful glass envelope.

I was obsessed with light and color.

My job each Christmas was to hang lights on the tree and outside the house. Every Christmas, I’d come home from SEARS and the local hardware store with Christmas lights and bulbs. A personal favorite was the colorful miniature lights, which were wired in series. When one burned out, they all went out. Then came the laborious task of finding out which one was out – something no one wanted to do.

Manufacturers figured out how to fix this “shortcoming “lights out” problem with a shunt in the bulbs, which allowed current to flow to the rest. “GE Merry Midget Christmas lights. When one goes out, the rest stay lit!” Do you find it ironic the Rankin-Bass “Rudolph” Christmas special was sponsored by General Electric? The characters – elves in particular – had heads and noses shaped like light bulbs?

I think it was a subtle way to sell GE Soft White bulbs.

What made childhood Christmases magical for boomers was our imaginations. We didn’t need virtual reality and video games to entertain ourselves – but imagine if we’d had that. We would have embraced them like today’s young people have. Imagination and make believe were more fun than electronics because you could do anything and be anything you wanted to be. I could take a model airplane or a plastic car and go anywhere.

For Christmas of 1962, I got a lighted motorized dashboard with a steering wheel I could place on the dining table and take a spin – anywhere… I’d turn on the ignition, hear the hum of an electric motor inside, and grab the wheel. It required six “C” batteries and went through them quickly. It was a miniature version of the 1963-64 Ford Galaxie dashboard and instrument panel with flashing turn signals and gauges. I’ve searched high and low for one of these toys through the years. They seem nowhere to be found. I am a boomer attempting to relive his childhood.

Gotta have some of those really groovy toys we grew up with.

Our greatest asset as a generation has been our imaginations. Our imaginations are why we have what we have today – great inventions that came of our childhood imaginations. We can thank SEARS (and Santa Claus) for providing us with the tools that fueled our imaginations so long ago.

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