Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Appalachian Word of the Week -- WISH BOOK

The one thing I wished for almost as much as Christmas was the Christmas WISH BOOK.

When it arrived in the mail, I squealed with delight and hoped I could get my hands on it before my brother or my sister. I spent hours flipping through the pages. The pages of toys, that is. I drooled over the fabulous offerings of toys -- baby dolls, art supplies, jewelry, and household items to use in my playhouse.

Daddy built my playhouse out of leftover lumber from an old chicken house. He also installed a door and double windows. I spent every day it was warm enough in my house, dreaming of when I grew up.

The WISH BOOK often caused us kids to fight. Of course, Mom reminded us that Santa could see us being bad and it hushed us up for a little bit.

We didn't receive toys or treats very often during the rest of the year. Even on my birthday. Unfortunately, my birthday came so close to Christmas that one of my Christmas gifts was designated as my birthday present.

All gifts came from Santa
That didn't settle well with me. Not only because I felt cheated out of a gift, but because during those years of believing in Santa, all of my gifts came under the tree, unwrapped, from Santa. That meant that my birthday gift came from Santa, not my parents.

For years my heart broke when my parents gave other people beautifully wrapped gifts, but they never ever gave one to me. In my sensitive heart, I thought that meant they didn't love me. Much later, when I mentioned it to my mom, she was flabbergasted. She had never even thought about it.

I, on the other hand, made sure when my son was born that the best gifts were wrapped and bore a tag with his name and that they were from Mom and Dad. Santa only brought the little stuff.

Our WISH BOOK managed to go from pristine and new to torn and ragged by the time our WISH list had been sent to Santa. A lot of wishing happened on those pages.

Today, I do most of my WISH BOOK viewing on Google. It doesn't have the same effect. Of course, I'm much older now and don't dream for small gifts like I did in the pages of the WISH BOOK. Now I wish for things like improved health, enough money to pay the bills, and being content with what I have. Of course, this year I did think how nice it would be for Santa to bring me a new car. My expectations are much lower than when I was a child though.

Do you remember the old WISH BOOK of our youth? Was your favorite the Sears or Montgomery Ward?

Each year before Christmas, Dad drove us over to Middlesboro to visit the Montgomery Ward store on Main Street. I loved the lights, trees, and decorations in town and in the stores. Mom took care of her gift shopping while Dad took us to Woolworth for a treat at the food counter. I didn't realize until many years later that Mom sneaked our gifts from Santa into the trunk of our car while we had a triple-decker club sandwich and a milkshake at Woolworth's.

What do you remember about your WISH BOOK? What was your favorite gift?

I'd love to hear your stories.

Merry Christmas and may your grandest wishes come true.