Memory Lane: The Sears Roebuck Christmas Catalogue

Vintage 1959 Sears Roebuck & Company Christmas Wishbook Catalog

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–!

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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.

9 comments on “Memory Lane: The Sears Roebuck Christmas Catalogue

  1. During my childhood years my mother worked at a shiny new Sears store about a mile from our house. I grew up in a Sears family. Besides my mother, One of my uncles, one of my cousins and myself worked for Sears at one time or another.

    The Sears Christmas catalogues were the high point of my year: shopping-wise. I would spend the autumn months wishing for all sorts of great toys from the catalogue. It’s only a minor exaggeration to say that I had the toy section memorized by sometime in November.

    The love of family was another constant. At times I am troubled by the failings of my elders in the family, but in spite of their imperfections, they were loving and good people that endeavored to do their best by me. The family has become an endangered species these days, and I’ve come to realize how fortunate I was in having two parents under the same roof, and the love of aunts, uncles cousins and grandparents.

    Don’t it always seem as though, you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone. My once large family has become much smaller and I truly miss the huge family gatherings I enjoyed as a kid.

  2. I hear you both on this one. I, too, loved the Sears Christmas catalog. By the end of the year, the poor thing was worn out. Also, we had a very large family (on both my Dad’s and my Mother’s side, and there were so many kids to play with, it was mind boggling. The fancy food was endless, the toys and games and goodies were everywhere, and it was hard to believe that the fun would ever end. I actually loved spending time with my beloved Grandmother almost more than the rest of it, but it was all great.

  3. I don’t remember getting a Sears catalog although I’m sure we got one every year. Living in Philadelphia in Kensington we were able to get to Sears on the Roosevelt Blvd. But my parents used to get stuff from the Fingerhut catalog. I was given a set of luggage at Christmas one year that came from that catalog. And a lot of Christmas presents came from Kensington Avenue below Allegheny Avenue which was a major shopping area up until the late ’60’s – early 70’s. Other shopping venues began to open up in other neighborhoods which boasted many larger chain stores and major department stores. But “the Avenue” was the place to go when I was a kid. My parents could find stuff at very reasonable prices and we had two five & dime stores (Woolworth’s and Kresge’s) where I could find gifts that a kid could afford.

  4. We used to have an old Sears catalogue from the early 1900s. It had some pretty neat looking toys in there. I don’t know what happened to that catalogue, though …

    Oh, and by the way, Merry Christmas to you and your wife!

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