During my boyhood, at just about this time every year, we received our Sears-Roebuck Christmas catalogue. Oh, boy! My brother, my sister, and I spent hours and hours marveling at the treasures depicted therein.
My favorites were the various play sets, featuring a whole bunch of little plastic figurines with a nice big setting for them. My brother would have loved the one pictured above! You not only get lots of little cars, but also this wonderful service station plus parking deck.
We had play sets for the Age of Dinosaurs, a farm, Cape Canaveral–you could put your eye out with those spring-launched rockets–an army base, and a three-ring circus.
And look at the price–$4.98 for the whole shootin’ match, or you can get the super-colossal version for $7.98. These items now sell on eBay for hundreds of bucks apiece. I remember when I wanted the dinosaur set and my father said we couldn’t afford it, five dollars was just too much. I wound up getting it for Christmas, and I still have some of the dinosaurs today. (Wish I’d kept those rockets, though!)
Oh, so many play sets! King Arthur and his knights, Ben-Hur and his chariot race, Wagon Train, Fort Apache, the jungle trading post–I used to get off on just reveling in the pictures in the catalogue.
Now, I do realize that such things have nothing whatever to do with Christmas, the real Christmas, but are really just add-ons to express the joy we experience at the birth of Jesus Christ Our Lord. Without Him it’s only a festival of Mammon. We do have to take care, especially with our children, that this is clearly understood. We mustn’t celebrate the gifts; the gifts are a celebration of Christ.
But I will stack up the 1959 Sears Christmas catalogue against any cultural artifact of this present time, and come out way ahead.