The Big Chill persists and I slipped outside this morning to run the car – even took it out of the garage. Woo-hoo! I grabbed yesterday’s mail to read while I was idling in the driveway … just a catalogue from The Swiss Colony. It would be a tad late to be ordering I would think unless you do it online. This is the only catalogue I have received the entire pre-holiday and holiday season. I started subscribing to a junk mail service and it has eliminated at least 99% of the catalogues and most of the annoying advertising that I used to receive. I was leafing through the catalogue while willing some warmth to come my way because the heated seats weren’t doing their job and having the car sit in place wasn’t cranking out any heat either. Ahhh, perhaps a warm memory or two will make the chattering teeth, frozen lips and numb fingers and toes begin to defrost. We only ordered from The Swiss Colony one time – their trademark chocolate Chris Mouse which we got to send to my grandmother. She was tickled about it, and the mouse was very cute but much smaller than pictured, and my grandmother saved it in her fridge for such a long time that it developed that milky bloom over it and lost some of its charm. I sure don’t remember all those catalogues ever coming to the house when I was finally old enough to run and grab the mail and bring it inside. In 2011, I stomped my foot and said “enough already” when I was bringing some five to ten catalogues into the house daily all year ‘round. Then, the companies would mail them out the following week, by just slapping a different cover on the same catalogue! It was annoying and a waste of paper and trees.
When I was a kid there was only one catalogue that counted, and that was the Eaton’s Christmas Catalogue. The very catalogue, which I would have perused with rapt attention when I was three years old, is pictured above. When the Eaton’s Christmas Catalogue arrived in the mail, I’d sit in the big easy chair, legs sticking straight out in front of me, and ponder over what I would ask Santa for that year. My mom told me I could only pick two things, otherwise Santa would think I was greedy. Those two items on my wish list would actually be divided between my parents and my grandparents so I always did get what I wished for and felt a secret smugness that I was nice and knew Santa was paying attention to me. Smug … and a little precocious. In my mind’s eye, all the time expended in making the final painstaking decision of what two items I most coveted, was time well spent. After studying the catalogue and dog-earing all the items I liked, then the angst would begin as I narrowed down the list to my final choices. Then, I’d show those items to my mom, and together we would write and ask Santa Claus to put them under the Christmas tree. The Christmas Catalogue always preceded the mid-November arrival of Santa at the Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade in downtown Toronto which I would attend with my father. Then we’d stroll, through Eaton’s and Simpson’s department stores, also downtown, and visit Toy Town and a tour of the animated extravaganza in Santa’s Village. We’d queue up in long lines to visit with the Jolly Old Elf so I could reinforce to Santa what my wish list entailed in case my letter didn’t arrive at the North Pole. With my face pressed to the glass, I peered through the store-front windows with their animated scenes and an ice-cream waffle sandwich in the Eaton’s Tunnel topped off a perfect day before we headed home. The big-picture strategy worked every time since the fun items I hand-picked were always under the tree, along with gaily wrapped packages containing clothes, or slippers … less fun but surely functional items.
Santa always brought a stocking which was laid at the bottom of the bed, sometime after I fell asleep on Christmas Eve. My parents told me when I was older that the stocking was to keep me occupied so that they could sleep in on Christmas Day, but with all the excitement about opening the presents under the tree, I usually awoke early and clambered down to the end of the bed to retrieve my stocking and investigate its booty. There were childish shouts of delight for every little treasure as it was unwrapped, so no doubt my parents were immediately awakened and just reconciled themselves to the fact that sleeping in would have to wait for another morning.
All those decades ago when I uttered “Oh Santa, I would be the happiest little girl in the world if only you would bring me Betsy Wetsy or Chatty Cathy and a pretty pram to push them in” … sweet treasured memories, all which I vividly recall. I also relived some nice memories via the way-back lens, not just in this recitation, but by spending a delightful hour or so tonight just whiling away the time on The Archives of Ontario Eaton’s Christmas Page and meandering through the Christmas Past gallery of black and white photos.
You can catch up on my blog posts before I started blogging at Patch on August 10th by going here: http://lindaschaubblog.net/