April in Glenwood: Kids make the season brighter
My parents recently found old Christmas wish lists of mine and my brother’s, circa 1980.
The Sears catalog was named as a source, apparently heavily influencing our decision-making.
My dad discovered the handwritten lists in my mom’s old multi-colored patchwork suede leather coat she wore when we were kids. That jacket brings back a lot of great memories of my childhood, and perhaps that’s why she kept it all these years. Growing up in the ’80s was as fun as the Cyndi Lauper, Twisted Sister and Toni Basil music videos made it look.
I miss old MTV.
When my mom posted photos on Facebook of the lists she took with her iPhone, it was like stepping back in time. Except there was no such thing as social media or smart phones in 1980, so viewing photos of old Christmas lists would have been done in person, or via Polaroids.
There was our youthful, innocent handwriting, including my spelling of Dukes of Hazzard with only one z. I figured out the year we wrote the lists because my brother asked for Cheap Trick’s “All Shook Up” album.
We loved that band like it was our job.
Some kids played tag or flag football as kids — we played Cheap Trick. A consummate fan of guitar greats including Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen, my brother always played the role of lead guitarist Rick Nielsen. I’d be frontman Robin Zander. I had the long hair for it. And the theatrics to be a lead singer.
The voice, not so much.
I loved pretending to be a rock star, and would wear my brother’s karate gi while belting out Cheap Trick hits “Dream Police,” “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me.” He would air guitar his solos using a plastic Star Wars light saber and a painter’s cap with the bill flipped up. Around the year the Christmas lists originated, my mom took us to our first concert, Cheap Trick with opener Molly Hatchet.
We were hooked on music early.
In those formidable childhood years, I was also a big fan of Olivia Newton-John’s musical and dance work. Especially on the “Grease” soundtrack — yes, I know “Hopelessly Devoted to You” by heart — and “Xanadu,” also on that Christmas wish list. The plot of the “Xanadu” film made it a favorite mostly because it featured roller skating and disco. Plus Gene Kelly starred in it, showing his range as an entertainer at almost 70. The film’s Big Band nuances helped me develop an acute appreciation for this nearly lost era of music. I could listen to the Glenn Miller Orchestra for hours.
I can name many of his famous tunes in trivia, which may have something to do with my obsession over the old Name That Tune game and TV show. I loved it so much, I asked for the play-at-home version on this now-infamous Christmas list.
Song title and artist recognition is one of my under-utilized talents, and it’s a shame I didn’t pursue a career in it. Maybe I should build my retirement fund through winning trivia contests.
It could happen.
I could put my cosmetic R&D skills honed through Hasbro’s Fresh ‘n Fancy perfume kit I asked for, and received, to good use as a second calling. That gift was beloved, along with the Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag hauled to many a slumber party.
I was very girly when it came to the gender-specific ’80s novelties of that decade. Super Teen Skipper also made the list that year.
I related to her body type at that age. Still do.
Waxing nostalgic on Christmases past is all part of my own experience now watching our boys become excited about the holidays.
Of course as a parent it’s important to stress that gifts aren’t the only reason for the season. But it’s a whole lot of fun watching the kids anticipate what Santa will stash under the tree on Christmas morning.
I wonder if he has some roller skates for me.
As a fairly new infant last year, Baby Will wasn’t too cognizant of Christmas gift-giving traditions. But this year, at 17 months, he lights up when he sees holiday decorations and says, “Pretty!”
He recognizes Santa, and laughs and smiles when I sing “Jingle Bells” off-key. It’s a merry thing to watch, seeing all the holiday splendor through a child’s eyes. Now I know how my mom, in her multi-colored patchwork suede leather coat with our Christmas lists in the pocket, felt.
And oh what fun it is.
April E. Allford can’t wait for Christmas morning. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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