In this installment of Antique Trader’s Question of the Week, we explore the topic of holiday catalogs, otherwise known as holiday wishbooks. Those mammoth catalogs which used to come to homes in November of each year, filled with page after page of
wonderful toys, clothes, items for the home and more. Today those vintage wishbooks are also a popular collectible. So, we posed this question about those memorable catalogs, and here is what a few people had to say…
“As children of the ’70s, my brother and I would be excited when it arrived. We were allowed to go through it and mark the things we wanted for Christmas. We even had a
system for grading preference of the choices. Then Mom and Dad would pick out a couple of them. It was fun to “ask” for things and not really know what we were getting.” — Robbin Scuras, via Facebook
“As a child, I would page through the Sears Christmas catalog every day from when it arrived in our mail box until about three days before Christmas. I would take a legal sized lined paper and write the numbers from 1 to 101. Then as I found things I thought were neat and I wanted, I added them to the list. My folks always said they couldn’t afford the entire list, but they encouraged imagination and “bucket lists” (before the term was popular). Under the tree Christmas Eve would be the usual socks and underwear, along with one of the items. And Christmas Day Santa would have brought one of the larger items. My favorite was Gaylord, a large, plastic Basset Hound that walked (with the aid of batteries, of course!).” — Alexis Maureen, via Facebook
“I remember trying to stay cool on a fall night growing up in Minnesota. My bed was under the windows, which were wide open to the dark street full of houses. After being tucked into bed, I would take the sheet pull it over my head and read, dream and drool over that first catalog of the season, the Montgomery Ward Christmas wish book, and what I wanted more than anything was a bike! There it was a beautiful royal blue with chrome, a Hawthorne bike!
Every night I, in my pajamas, would dream about that bike and would wish on the first
star I would see outside my window dreaming of that bike with the royal blue and shiny chrome fenders made just for me. My mind would begin to swirl in the delirium of this semi-quiet connection to nature and I would fall asleep dreaming of how wonderful it was going to be when I got that bike and would ride down these streets.
Christmas week came and we never saw much of my dad. He seemed to have a project going in the basement, like he sometimes had doing various woodworking. Christmas Eve I just couldn’t get to sleep, so with my Montgomery Ward wish book in hand I headed to the living room by myself, turned off all the lights except the Christmas tree lights and turned on the Christmas music ever so soft. Cozy on the sofa with my grandma’s quilt with just me, the music and the colored lights, and a float above everything, the colors became blurry in dream.
Seven-year-old Christmas heaven and, with hope, no snow on Christmas Day since I knew I was going to have that bike. With such surprise I woke up Christmas morning in my bed, running into the living room with hope to see my big blue Hawthorne bike like right out of the pages of that Montgomery Ward catalog by the Christmas tree, but I found no bike. With such disappointment on my face I turned and went back to my bedroom. Just then my dad came up from the basement, and said, “Where are you going? It looks like a nice day for a bike ride!” With so much love I didn’t run to the bike with the big red bow, but to my dad instead and said, “Thank you Daddy, I love you!”
— Sandy Erdman, Winona, Minn.