Authors Note: I wrote this 15 years ago…the references that were once current are no more. A lot has changed in the Carden family, but the memories remain.
What is it about Christmas that creates such nostalgia? I remember when I was a kid in the 60’s, around the first of November, my brother David and I would impatiently wait every day for the mailman to deliver the first true signal that Christmas was coming…The Sears Wish Book! Hopefully, you’ve just smiled, for whenever I mention this to someone, there’s a nice warm feeling about hearing those words…sort of like Homer Simpson when he thinks about donuts.
I remember Mom trying her best to help us avoid a fight when determining who got the first shot with it. She was lucky that it was just the two of us. We did not have a sister, so the girls’ section usually wound up immaculate. However, the boys’ section was altogether different, as we usually studied it line-by-line, page-by-page. It was dog eared, circled, marked up, numbered, prioritized, written in by both of us. If we had spent as much time with the World Book encyclopedias (there’s another memory for you) as we did with this catalog, we would have been considered child prodigies.
My memories take me back to the Sears & Roebuck on Central Ave. in Knoxville, which was almost identical to the old Sears store on Lafayette St. here in Nashville. We would always walk through lawn and garden, through the appliance section, into the main store, and right into the candy counter. Where that was a normal stop when we got dragged there for school clothes (Yuck!), we knew exactly where we were going…downstairs to the Toy department…and to see the big guy…the head honcho, the one guy that truly understood what that Wish Book meant to us. Santa Claus!
The reason I love the movie “A Christmas Story” so much is that in those days, I was Ralphie and my brother was Randy. Our experiences with Santa weren’t as dramatic or tragic as Ralphie’s, but the memories of that Sears store are etched in my mind forever, as are the framed pictures of me and David on Santa’s lap in my home. I remember David and I on Christmas morning in our bedrooms, both feeling like two thoroughbreds in the gate, just waiting for Mom to give us the “all clear sign.” It wasn’t Christmas without Dad and his movie camera with that light bar that had 10000-watt bulbs in it.
Today, Christmas in so many ways is so different. Sears is gone. The Wish Book is now Sunday flyers and online shopping. I consider myself a blessed man in that for as long as I can remember, the Carden family has changed since I originally wrote this. We have lost the cornerstone of our family, our dad, Granddad, and husband to Mom. He’s in our hearts daily, and oh, how we miss him. We have three new members of the family: my nephew-in-law David, Courtney’s husband. Chase’s wife Brittany, and we are more than proud to welcome Catherine into the family, their daughter, born on December 1st.
Yes, Christmas as I knew it as a kid will never be the same. My Wish Book is now a personal journal of words, thoughts, experiences, emotions, goals, wants, prayers, and dreams. The only pictures in it are those created by my mind and my heart. Christmas today is about family and friends. My clients become my friends, and friends become clients and all of them become a part of my own personal family.
So, with all my heart, please know if you’re reading this, that you are a part of my Wish Book, and I wish you all of the love, hope, and joy of this Christmas and Hanukkah season.