"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Wish Book

ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS
Sears Wish Book 2007 ~ Good Old Days meet New Age

Talk about custom and ceremony, and annual tradition! I don't remember my family referring to it as the "Wish Book," but I well recall the excitement of marking all of our favorite pages in the Sears Christmas Catalog every year. We were not alone!

On one holiday blog after another, the old catalogs feature as an unforgettable childhood memory. Take a look at this great site or this one for a glimpse of vintage wish books from decades gone by. How poignantly Cris Williamson captures the nostalgia in her truly unique Christmas song:

Wish - Book
When the fire danger was low
Off we'd go to Ohio
Through the cold December days
In the old black Chevrolet.

The three of us kids would sit in the back
With the wish - book catalogue on our laps
We'd dream of all the things there'd be
Underneath the Christmas tree.

And we'd say
"What'll we get when the great day's here?"
And Mama'd make the wishing - book appear
And we dreamed of life for all it was worth
And I knew the meaning of peace on earth.

As Daddy drove the car through
the middle of the night
I'd be reading by the glow of the radio light
Pointing to the pictures one - by - one
Daddy said we'd have it all when the money comes.

When my sister and brother were asleep
I'd crawl over in the front seat
And I'd sit up with Mom and Dad
And talk about all the things we'd have.

And we'd say
"What'll we get when the great day's here?"
And Mama'd make the wishing - book appear
And we dreamed of life for all it was worth
And I knew the meaning of peace on earth.

On the day that Christmas came
I found an envelope with my name
Like promises of days to be
The wish - book pictures spilled in front of me.

And, oh I tried not to feel too sad
As I read the note from Mom and Dad
That said, "Merry Christmas, little one.
This is just until the money comes."


words by Cris Williamson
music by Tret Fure and Cris Williamson
found on the album Snow Angel

I was such a lucky little kid; the Christmas that I was nine years old, I wished for an Italian Boy Doll (2nd one down on the right, wearing pale blue) and my wish came true!

Page 619 of the Sears Christmas Catalog, 1966

Christmas Day, 1966

As I've said before (on my previous post: "Boy Doll"), "my sister and I were so proud of our new dolls! If any of you ever come to visit and stay overnight, you will find Boy Doll, in pristine condition, sitting on the guest bed. I wanted this doll like crazy, but I never played with him very much and never gave him a name other than "Boy Doll." [Don't ask me why, but we had a way back then of describing our toys rather than actually naming them, as with my sister Diane's Floppy Doll.]

"Little did I know that one day a couple of decades later I would have two little blond baby boys who looked just like my Boy Doll! Or . . . wait! . . . perhaps I did know but just didn't know that I knew! Maybe Boy Doll was sent to me as an innocent little Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come!"

Fall 1990 ~ Baby Ben, propped up beside Boy Doll

Fall 1993 ~ Baby Sam, three years later

For a little Baby Boomer such as I, the Christmas Season and the Catalog Season were one and the same. But catalogs did appear at other times of year (e.g. "Back to School") and Wish Books could be for other special occasions as well (Easter dresses, prom dresses, wedding dresses). My talented cousin Robert Lindsey Nassif describes just such a special occasion in his winsome tribute to wishing and dreaming and shopping from the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. "Dreams are all I've got," croons the narrator; yet it's a dream that just might come true! Don't forget, in real life, Lady Bird Johnson's wedding ring really did come from Sears and Roebuck!

Sears and Roebuck Wedding Band
Go on, walk away.
I'm a waste of time
Can't take me to a dimestore,
'cause I haven't got a dime.

Dreams are all I got
that's not in short supply.
But, if I printed money,
then I know just what I'd buy:

That Sears and Roebuck Wedding Band
on page one hundred three.
Gold electro - plated,
with a lifetime guarantee.

That Sears and Roebuck Wedding Band
to flash before your eyes.
One in just your size.

What I can't afford,
that's what you should have.
Like, an "Acme Wonder Washer,"
or "Bonjour Parisian Salve."

Patent Leather shoes,
or a Patent - Pending Sieve,
and there's something with engraving
I'd give anything to give:

That Sears and Roebuck Wedding Band
on page one hundred three.
Gold electro - plated,
with a lifetime guarantee.

That Sears and Roebuck Wedding Band
delivered C.O.D.
Just for you, from me.

See, as long as I know
nothing's gonna come true,
guess I might as well go
for the top a the line --
for a de - luxe editon,
like you,
and that

Sears and Roebuck Wedding Band
on page one hundred three.
Gold electro - plated,
with a lifetime guarantee.

A fella needs a dream to dream,
especially if he's poor.
That's the thing
that catalogues
and pretty girls
are for.


words and music by Robert Lindsey Nassif

60th Anniversary Issue from 2012

SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS FOR MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Tuesday, January 14th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com


Looking for a good book? Try
KITTI'S LIST
my running list of recent reading
www.kittislist.blogspot.com

2 comments:

  1. This certainly brings back memories of peering through the Sears and Penney's Christmas catalogues to choose Christmas presents in the 60's--after my sister and I gave up the Santa Claus notion. Though, I never heard of the term "wish book" until my father-in-law mentioned it years ago.

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  2. I remember getting the summer Sears catalog and sitting with my friend Chris, going through each page--"You'd look cute in this." "You'd look cute in that." I got one new outfit for school each fall, and it was such a big deal. And then the Christmas catalog--holy Jesus. Great post--plus Cris Williamson! Shirley Morahan introduced me to her music! Love you, Kit. XO, Victoria

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