A Christmas Catalog – Request/Receive

Battered pages from the JC Penney's catalogue

Oldest, 7. Youngest two, 4.

There is a point in early childhood when the Christmas Light comes on; when your brain puts it all together.

Christmas is not some random day when toys show up in your living room. Christmas is a request/receive arrangement. If there’s something you really want, ask for it and it arrives!

The light came on for my son the year he discovered the JC Penney Christmas catalog. He noticed his mom looking at it. When she was done, he picked it up and behold; toys, page after page of nothing but toys, right there at his fingertips!

One toy in particular he really liked and mentioned it to a certain large, red-ly dressed man in a shopping mall. On Christmas morning, BAM! There it was. Request/Receive.

The next year, about August 5th, he started reading the JC Penney Christmas catalog like it was an award-winning novel. I’d come home from work and he would be sitting in a chair, reading intently. His sisters would be watching TV and he would sit on the floor, reading his catalog. He would review it with his mom as she made dinner. We would look at it together before bedtime. By the time the big day finally rolled around, pages 569 through 577 were tissue-paper thin.

In the hands of a little kid, the catalog was enormous. He wasn’t interested in all that junk that his sisters would look at, though. His chapter was about nine pages long and he would ever-so-gently turn those pages. Careful marks were made to indicate “want” stuff. Circled marks were made for the “really want” stuff and multi-circled stars were given to the “really, really, really want” stuff.

The big thing, though – the “gotta have” thing – was a Matchbox police station with cars, policemen, bad guys, and a search light on the roof. He liked it so much; several months later, he told the large, red-ly dressed man about it.

“I want a police station with a searchlight on the roof.”

When he came down Christmas morning, his eyes locked on it. Slowly, he walked over, picked it up as if it were made of delicate glass and moved it far away from his sisters. He sat down on the carpet and began playing; drove the cars, moved the men, lit up the search light!

To keep Christmas morning moving, we had to remind him that other gifts were waiting under the tree. He didn’t really care; after a moment or two, he would make his way back, and sit down to play.

JC Penney’s police station with a search light on the roof was now his police station with a search light on the roof.

From the pages of a catalog to his living room floor; does life get any better than that?


“Hey, dad?”

Sorry – got to go. More later.


About murphyjoel

Husband, father, writer, over-sized kid. View all posts by murphyjoel

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