Waiting for the Sears Christmas Catalog
By Luke Robinson
Here’s a random, seasonal question for the older crowd: Who remembers waiting impatiently for the Sears Christmas Catalog?
(I will assume several flabby, wrinkled, liver-spotted arms went up along with mine.)
That’s right, Millennials; your parents—or realllllllly older siblings—didn’t get an e-blast letting them know what the Christmas season’s hottest toys would be. We had to check the mail daily from late August until mid-September to see when the New-York-City-phone-book sized Sears catalog rolled in.
Oh it was glorious. It had all of the stuff that the local Walmart didn’t have.
“You mean there are MORE Star Wars figures than just Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker?!?”, I would exclaim. Yes… Yes there were, according to Sears and its incredible catalog.
Anyhoo, allow me to segue into the real story at hand. One pre-Christmas day in 1979 when I was in second grade, my teacher (Mrs. Foshee) was giving me and the rest of her students a pretty cool assignment: Use the Sears catalog and cut out what you really want for presents that year.
“Ok,” I thought. “But I have already told the odd looking Santa Claus in that make-shift open shed in Alex City’s town square what I wanted. This feels kinda repetitive.”
However, anything was better than memorizing those damned multiplication tables, so bring on the scissors and lemme commence to cuttin’!
Well, we cut and cut and cut some more. Kids cut out pictures of bikes and Barbie dolls ’til their li’l fingers cramped up. It was certainly a joyous time; Mrs. Foshee ran a good, clean-natured class.
I cut a lot of things out too. Some toys. A skateboard (never mind the fact I had the coordination of a one-legged, drunk T-rex). Maybe a Batman shirt or two. Perhaps a synthetic leather football if memory serves.
I also clipped a few other things out of the catalog, but I quickly shoved those items toward the back hole in my desk for reasons which will become very clear—or very scary-—later.
So Christmas comes and goes as it is prone to do. Presents are opened and eventually discarded or broken as the school days trudge along.
Finally, after months of painting planets made from Styrofoam balls, it’s the last day of second grade. Graduation Day!
But before we could collect our run-off sheet declaring our independence from Jim Pearson Elementary, there was the minor issue of cleaning up the classroom. This chore included sorting through our desks’ cubby holes. You remember those kinds of desks, right?
My desk stashed the traditional lot: A school year’s worth of broken pencils, chewed gum stuck to the inside (which may or may not have been mine), elongated triangular rubbery things that were used to help keep you from getting finger blisters when writing and maybe a few unsent love notes.
As I trashed all of those useless items, I reached my tiny arm back inside the desk one last time and felt some balled-up waxy paper. I knew immediately what I had found. It was my Sears catalog cut out from five months earlier.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Foshee—who was making rounds through the room as we cleaned—must have suspected my emotional discomfort as she b-lined for my desk.
“What do you have there, Luke?” she asked.
Unable to come up with a lie suitable for the situation, I meekly handed her the crumpled mess. She never took her eyes off of me as she unfurled the pages and my glasses fogged from embarrassment. At this moment I could only see the back of the page, but I knew what waited for her on the other side.
She popped open the edges, slowly peeked at what I had been saving since last September and then peered back at me and said, “Luke……….. Seriously?”
Turns out, while most children were using those safety scissors months ago to extract pictures of GI Joes and Lady Bug Lunch Boxes, I sneakily cut out three and four pages of the Sears catalog’s bra and panty section. Immediately realizing I had not thought my barely-PG-13 scheme out thoroughly enough to escape back home with the evidence, I just crammed the sheets into the back of my desk where I prompty forgot about them.
In my defense, those pages today wouldn’t even be considered risque if they were in a Sesame Street catalog. Some of those bras covered more territory than Texas kudzu. Today there is literally more nudity on C-SPAN. At the time, though, those women and their gigantic sets of underwear were like pin-up models in thongs to me.
Considering there is no appropriate way to put a bow on this article, I will just apologize deeply to Mrs. Foshee for what was surely one of her weirder teaching moments. Meanwhile, I secretly hope Sears will send me a gift card to offset the counseling costs those sexy ’70s vixens forced me into.
Merry Christmas everyone!•