The all-time Christmas classic, “A Christmas Story,” will once again rule the airwaves all day Christmas Eve, with the holiday tale of little Ralphie and his quest for a Daisy Red Ryder Range Model 1938 air rifle BB gun invading households across the country.
We’ve all had that one special Christmas gift in our lives and the one holiday story that seems to stand out from all the others, and mine are no more special than any others.
Other than my first BB guns, my favorite Christmas gifts of all time start with the original Tonka toys, fresh from Wilborn’s Toy Land in the late 1950s, including a road grader and bulldozer.
Tonka toys in those days weren’t made of plastic, rather they were made of metal, with rubber tires instead of plastic tires.
They were sturdy enough for children to sit on, and they were made to last forever.
A second most-wanted gift was a cargo plane courtesy of one of the top toy makers of the 1960s, Ideal.
Called the Globemaster, it was a propeller-driven, heavy-lift cargo plane, and it was one of the top toys for that year.
I do believe I was 7 or 8-years old, and my brother’s most desired gift that year was a bicycle, so we were anxious to wake up around 5:30 a.m. Christmas morning to see what Santa had brought us.
My smarter older brother was fascinated with electricity and carried a one-watt bulb to bed the night before, in addition to a watch to let us know when the appointed hour arrived.
That time arrived, or so we thought, as my brother and I snuck past our parents’ bedroom to the living room, where we turned on a lamp near the Christmas tree to reveal our presents, including the Globemaster and bicycle.
No sooner than he turned on the lamp, the light in the ceiling came on to reveal our less-than-pleased mother telling us it was too early to get up.
My brother either misread his watch or had it on upside down, as it was 2:30 a.m. instead of 5:30 a.m., and we both had to endure the torture of going back to bed for an additional three hours, an eternity for a child on Christmas Eve.
The next year, my brother moved upstairs, so I had to endure Christmas Eve alone.
Other favorite toys included my first “adult” bicycle, and the Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army), a multi-function toy weapon and perhaps the most politically incorrect toy ever produced.
The Johnny Seven O.M.A. was the best selling boys’ toy of 1964, and it was marketed heavily on children’s television. It came with a unique number of features, including seven different actions.
It had a grenade launcher, rocket launcher complete with grenade and rockets, and it also fired plastic bullets.
You could shoot it from the hip or stabilize it with the use of tripods, much like the Browning Automatic rifle, which probably served as a blueprint for the Johnny Seven O.M.A.
Christmas is so much more than shopping for toys and gifts, and the rat race at malls and shopping centers, the online deals and bargains. It’s all about family.
I get just as much a kick out of watching the holiday hustle and bustle, the decorations and colors surrounding the holidays as much as anything else.
Shucks, I even enjoy a good slice of fruitcake as much as anything else, so that tells you my expectation levels for the holidays have dropped significantly.
However, please don’t get me near the inevitable Chex mix.
Funny, how food is replacing toys on my wish list as I grow older, and even as I’m writing this column, I’m craving a doughnut.
I guess that’s food for thought.