Weekly Column: Circling Christmas Catalogs

©Stephenie Freeman

The toy catalogs have started arriving in the mail. Time to get out the ballpoint pen and start circling.

I know from experience that you must use a ballpoint pen when catalog circling. A pencil can rip the delicate pages and felt tip pens tend to bleed through to the other side which can lead to toy purchasing misunderstandings if you aren’t careful.

Yes, there is a fine art to catalog circling that my boys were unaware of until recently. The Cheese looked at me like I had just shared with him the secrets of the universe, which in a way I kind of had.

Besides, I had to do something. If I heard him say, “Mom, look! This is what I want” one more time I was going to stick my whole head into the gigantic bag of Halloween candy hiding in the back of the pantry just to drown out the noise.

And ever since letting them in on the catalog circling secret my boys have sat quietly for hours at a time, combing through each page with quiet intensity, pen in hand. I can only hope that my children will study their calculus and history books in high school with as much interest and concentration as they are the Toys ‘R’ Us Big Book.

Unfortunately, calculus books don’t have LEGO Cave Crushers and history books don’t contain pictures of Spider-Man action figures, so I doubt they’ll have any interest in them whatsoever.

So far we’ve received at least four different toy catalogs in the mail and have put most of our ballpoint pens to good use. Another one just arrived in the mail today. The Monkey responded, “Oh, man. Not another one!” Guess they’re in toy catalog overload. God help us when the Christmas toy television commercials start.

The only catalogs that I ever remember looking at were from Sears and JCPenny’s. They were thick and heavy and seemed to be filled with more underwear models than toys.

Speaking of which, the Golfer, who remembers close to nothing about his childhood, can remember wanting some NFL bedding that he saw in the JCPenny’s catalog. Or was it Sears? Either way, after staring at the lovely underwear models (these were the days before Victoria’s Secret), in his excitement he circled every pillow case, fitted sheet, and sham that he could find.

One day the Cheese looked up at me thoughtfully and asked, “Mom, can Santa make anything?”

Without thinking I replied, “Anything? Of course he can. Did you find something in those catalogs that you want from Santa?”

“No. That’s why I asked. I want him to make me something that’s not in a catalog. I want him to make me something that doesn’t exist.”

What he was requesting made perfect sense. Santa has a toy shop filled with elves that are there to do nothing but make toys. It was completely understandable to think that Santa could make something, like a LEGO Spider-Man video game, that didn’t exist. He had all of the tools, man power, and magic to make it happen.

“You know all of those catalogs you’ve been getting? Well, those come from Santa. Those are all of the toys that come from his workshop,” I told him. “And, well, Santa’s been hit hard by the recession and has to cut back on his magic this year, so he doesn’t have enough left over for making toys that don’t exist. Okay?”

“Nope. I think Santa can do it,” he replied as he grabbed another toy catalog off of the coffee table and walked away to steal yet another ballpoint pen out of my purse.

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