We didn't have Elf on the Shelf to keep us in line. We didn't have cell phones, tablets or the internet to play on. We played with dangerous toys and wore crazy pants and listened to our parent's weird Christmas records under our giant trees covered in toxic materials. Here are some of my favorite memories of the magic that was Christmas in the '70s/80s:
Footie pajamas: I'm guessing these are still popular but they were mandatory for us back in the day, especially when you grew up in the Northeast.
Homemade Christmas cookies: No fancy store bought Christmas cookies in my house. My mom made sugar cookie dough from scratch and let us cut them out with the cookie cutters. She'd ice them with red, green and white icing then let my brother and I take turns putting sprinkles on them. We fancied ourselves cookie artistes.
Makit & Bakit: Do you remember making "homemade" Christmas ornaments that looked like stained glass but were really made from toxic plastic pellets that you cooked in your very own oven? There was nothing like the smell of melting plastic and a slight burning of the lungs to put you in the Christmas spirit!
A giant Christmas tree cut right from the woods: This is part of the reason why I love "Christmas Vacation" so much. Dad Rick used to go out into the woods and come back with a giant, deformed tree that he'd have to cut down by half to get in the house. It was always misshapen and had tons of holes in the middle. So we'd douse it with tinsel, colored lights and the aforementioned toxic plastic ornaments to make it look like an actual "Christmas tree."
The best Christmas specials: You know all those Xmas specials you still see on TV every year? Most of those came out in the '70's (some even date back to the '60's). "Santa Clause is Coming to Town," "The Year without Santa Clause," "Frosty the Snowman," "Emmet Otter." Even John Denver and the Muppets got together for a special.
Christmas catalogs: The day that 15 lb Sears "Christmas Wishbook" came in the mail was the start of all things Christmas. I always got my mitts on that thing first and circled everything on my list so that Santa and Mom & Dad had a visual of EXACTLY what I wanted. From clothes to dolls and toys to bikes. Before we had the inter web, the Wishbook was the one-stop resource to create your wish list from. Do kids even know what Sears is anymore?
The fashion: Us kids had some real style in the '70s and '80s. It was typical to get dressed in your best disco-wear for Christmas day. Christmas sweaters had nothing on plaid suits and striped pants. There was corduroy. And velvet. The color "mustard" was also quite popular. You've seen the Brady Bunch right? Yup, that's the stuff.
Eclectic Christmas albums: My parents had everything from Kenny Rogers to Wayne Newton to Elvis to Engelbert Humperdinck (seriously). Throw in our Sesame Street and Chipmunks Christmas records and we must have had the craziest holiday soundtrack on the block.
The toys: Roller skates, View-Master, Atari, Simon, Sit 'n Spin, Matchbox cars, Star Wars figures, Lite-Bright, the Barbie Styling Head, Baby Alive, Easy Bake Oven, Fashion Plates, Connect Four -- I could go on and on. Many of these toys are still selling to this day. OK, maybe not Simon. But man, we had a lot of fun stuff. (F&ck that GD Rubik's Cube though.)
Cheers to a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays - past, present and future! ♥