In life, the fun can often be found in the journey as much as in the destination.
That’s they way it was with Christmas catalogs when I was a lad.
Back in the ancient times, long before anyone had heard of the Internet, the big retailers all relied on catalogs to market their products. JCPenney and Sears were popular catalogs in Duluth. At this time of year, we looked forward to the arrival of the annual Christmas catalogs.
When they arrived, my sister and I would spend hours poring over the colorful pages, studying the material, and comparing options.
We didn’t rush through the process. We savored the experience, rather like reading a menu at a fabulous restaurant.
As we studied the treasure trove of toys and games available in those magnificent catalogs, we imagined what it would be like to have those items at home. We smiled at the fun we would have.
This process went on for quite some time. It was a matter of days, not hours. This was not a job to be rushed.
After much careful consideration, we would go back through the catalogs and circle the things we wanted to add to our Christmas wish lists, to make things easier for old St. Nick.
We were under no illusions that we were going to receive these items simply because we circled them in the catalogs.
Ours was a modest household, and we were well aware that money did not grow on trees.
We were simply doing our due diligence so that if providence were to shine down upon us, and Santa (or anyone else) felt inclined to bring us gifts for Christmas, they would have a way of knowing what we really wanted.
Sometimes we received an item or two we had circled, but when that happened, it was a bonus, not an expectation. The real fun came from imagining what we would do with the items if they were ours.
That seems strange today. Our society has become addicted to instant gratification, and we want everything immediately. Too often, it seems we have lost the joy of anticipation; of waiting for things; of dreaming of what might be possible.
It’s sad, really, because I think we appreciated things more back then.
When we have to wait for things, or work for them, or save for them, they mean more than when we simply get everything we want simply by snapping our fingers.
When my siblings and I were young, we didn’t expect to get all the things on our Christmas wish lists, and I am absolutely certain we would not have been any happier if we had received all those things.
We learned to appreciate what we had, and that’s a more precious gift than anything one might find in a catalog.
I don’t know what kids do today. I don’t suppose anyone bothers to print big catalogs anymore. I suspect kids look up what they want on the Internet, and just e-mail the links to their parents from their tablets, or text them using their smart phones. That’s not the same as circling things in a catalog.
I hope there are still kids out there who look forward to Christmas with a sense of anticipation and wonder, and who will appreciate whatever gifts they receive.
I’d like to believe there are still parents out there teaching their children that the things that really matter in life have nothing to do with material possessions.
I guess that’s my Christmas wish.
If there was a magical catalog in which there was an entry about friends and family and important things like those, that’s the section I’d circle if I could.
When I was a lad, the thing I enjoyed most about Christmas was it was a time we could take a break from the routine and let the people who were important to us know we cared about them. For me, that’s still the best part of Christmas today.
It’s OK to dream about the things we might like, and there’s nothing wrong with making a wish list. We just need to remember not to lose sight of what really matters.
Happiness and satisfaction can’t be found in a catalog or ordered online.