When I was a boy, one of the sure signs that Christmas really was coming at last, honest, was the annual Sears Roebuck Christmas Book, better known as the Sears Catalogue.
How I loved to pore over this enormous thick book! It was as thick as the phone book, but with dozens of captivating pictures on each and every page. Of course, I rushed through the long and tedious sections on clothes and bedding and the like, lingered over the guns–real guns, not toys–and then, aaah! The toy section. El Dorado!
My favorites were the play sets, consisting mostly of little plastic figures of animals and people. Pictured in the catalogue, all set up and ready to go, I could just groove on these for hours–imagining myself imagining all kinds of adventures for these little characters, once I got them. The farm set! The circus! The African safari! Not to mention pirates, army men, cowboys and Indians, and, one of the best ever, Cape Canaveral with spring-launched rockets that made a gloriously loud “bonk!” if you shot them into the ceiling. And the sheer ecstasy of finding the dinosaur play set under the tree on Christmas morning–!
Some of the gang from the dinosaur play set
I understand, now, what it meant: that my mother and father, grandparents, aunts and uncles, loved the living dickens out of me and all the other child-kin and delighted in seeing our faces light up when we got those gifts.
In that sense, those gifts continue to give, to this day.
And if love and giving and joy are not the way to celebrate Our Savior Jesus Christ, I don’t know what is.