Question for a Saturday
Posted on December 20, 2008 Posted by John Scalzi 102 Comments
I’m spending the day away from teh Intarnets, but I couldn’t leave you without anything to do, so here’s a holiday-themed question:
When you were a kid, what thing did you really want for Christmas or [insert appropriate seasonal gift giving holiday here] that you never got? And as an adult, did you get it for yourself, just because you could?
Share in the comments, folks.
There were a lot of things I wanted and never got. When I started making money I did buy some (mostly clothes), but not the big ticket items. When I was able to afford the bigger stuff, I had moved on to wanting things that couldn’t go under the tree and required financing. I got some of those, not ones I really lusted after, but ones I could afford. About once a year I get a “toy” I want. But overall my priorities have changed.
I wanted the Barbie Fashion Face. That life-size plastic head you got to put makeup on and do its hair? My Mom wouldn’t let me have it because it wasn’t appropriate, in her humble opinion.
I eventually got over it, so no, I never got one for myself.
As a kid I desperately wanted a videogame system, which alas was never to be. We had an Atari 800 computer, which is not the same. I feel like I missed out on some fundamental part of my 80s childhood.
I had actually forgotten about it until the hub-bub and I finally bought a Wii Christmas before last.
But, you know, don’t weep for me. I got guns for Christmas.
Always wanted a motorcycle, never got it for Christmas/Birthday (which are virtually the same thing for me having been born on the 24th). Started asking for it when I was nine. At 15, I bought an old dirtbike for myself and hid it in a friend’s barn so the folks wouldn’t know. 42 now (almost!) and still riding, albeit an Indian instead of a Yamaha. Would be riding right now, actually, if it wasn’t for all that white stuff outside /grumble.
I always wanted a mini-bike. Never got one. “You’ll crash it and break your neck!”
It was expensive (still is, but only relatively so), mostly imported, and the kid down the street had a bushel of it from his German relations.
Meanwhile, we had none.
Ostensibly, most of the Lego in the house was for the kids… but the Mindstorms kit was for me.
A computer. I was pretty sure that I wanted to be an electrical engineer or software engineer when I was young, and I really wanted a computer of my own. My father said no. He felt they were mainly a fad (he was wrong) and that we couldn’t afford it (he was right).
I now have a degree in electrical engineering, I am employed as a software/systems engineer, and we have six computers in the house (only three of which are actively used right now).
Live the dream!
There were a few Lego sets that escaped my grasp. I got some really awesome ones over the years. I remember one time I got the monorail. Most awesome Lego set ever.
If there was something else, it probably would have been various video game systems.
On a more philosophical level, I always wanted stability in life and I’ve never really gotten it.
Peanut butter and Jelly.
Zombies and Shotguns.
Animators and Toys.
These things go together (no matter what certain dual-pistal snobs may think). But I’ve still managed to restrain myself on the Big Trak with trailer (had a Big Trak, never got the trailed. Wanted the trailer. Coveted the trailer) but one of these days I know I’ll cave in and buy one of the ones on eBay. It’s only a matter of time. I’ll probably get that voice-command R2D2 first.
Childhood is fleeting, but immaturity lasts a lifetime ;)
Transformers. My parents never bought them for me. They were too expensive and not a very “useful” toy. But boy, how I wanted one.
Oh, but I never did buy it for myself, because by the time I was old enough and had a job, they were out of style. And I guess I grew out of them. (Yah, right.)
Growing up in the 80’s, I always wanted a nintendo but I never even asked for one because I knew we couldn’t afford it. I bought one a few years ago (the basic, old style classic NES). I barely even played it. Just having it was enough, I guess. I gave it to my nephew a few years ago. Thanks for the memories, John.
When I was a kid, I wanted Christmas for Christmas. But I was a Jehovah’s Witness, so not only did I not get Christmas, but I had to go around telling everyone that I didn’t miss it at all because I knew the origins, so I was happy and proud not to celebrate. *gag*
As an adult, you bet I get Christmas… the tree, the parties, the dinner, the presents, heh. Go me!
There was lots of stuff I wanted that I didn’t get. I can’t remember most of it, which suggests to me that the toys weren’t that important. My parents weren’t exactly rolling in money. One sibling had a disability, so we understood that there were more important places for the money to go than on expensive toys.
My parents did okay for us on the toy front, though. My mom was one of those people who bought throughout the year when things were on sale. Only Santa knows where she hid them. ;-)
I’m glad that we’re able to get things for our parents now.
But yeah, I bought toys once I was able to afford them.
I wanted an X-Wing. That’s it, that’s all. Every year. X-Wing, X-Wing, X-Wing.
When I grew up, i eBayed a crapload of Starfighters into my hands.
Later, I eBayed them all right back out. :D
Yes, I badly wanted a Thumbelina doll. To quote: Thumbelina was Ideal’s most popular selling baby doll of the 1960’s. She is a mechanical doll that wiggles when you wind the knob on her back. I never got one.
I bought myself a new Thumbelina when they were reissued. I was in my twenties and only kept her for a few years.
My young nephew, he was about four or so, fell in love with her. So I gave Thumbelina to him (which greatly annoyed his dad – b/c boys do not play with dolls). My nephew loved Thumbelina to death and I loved that it made him so happy (and okay, loved annoying his sexist dad as well).
The only toy I can really remember wanting was the biggest, most expensive ($70!) Transformer ever at the time– Optimal Optimus. He was huge, and had four different modes! Four! Of course, this was the same year I asked for the Nintendo 64, and I can’t say I didn’t appreciate getting that instead a whole lot. Video games are way cooler than some fiddly toy, right?
A couple years ago I got the chance to buy one from someone for a few dollars, which I took in a heartbeat. It turns out he’s not really that big, but I still love the thing, and keep him beside my desk to have something to fiddle with instead of working. I put an entirely inappropriate level of sentimentality on that thing, and I don’t think it’d mean as much to me if I’d actually gotten him for Christmas as a kid.
One year I wanted a doumbek (an African drum), and there were signs I was actually getting one from my parents. But on Christmas Day, when I opened the box I thought was the drum, it turned out to be a fireplace candelabra. It was pretty, but it wasn’t the drum. I managed to pretend a little happiness about it, for my parents’ sake.
I bought my own a few years later. :D
Christmases with my family were always a nightmare. Everything had to be perfect – and so it was a stress-cadet nightmare, and usually descended into Familial Unpleasantness. Combine this with a mainly-absent dad who tried to compensate with gifts? *Shrug*
Therefore, Giftmas is a laid-back affair ’round this house. I think the best one was when the other half and I crawled under a blanker, and watched Babylon 5. All of it. Starting with the pilot, ending at the end of Season 5. Lots of easily-cooked snack-foods (still the tradition, rather than a Big Roast with All The Trimmings). Last year we had a blow-up palm tree for our Giftmas tree. One year, we decorated a real tree with dead tech components.
It seems to me the best thing about being grown up – well, OK, legally an adult – is that you can make Christmas what you want it to be. In fact, it’s the one time of the year you can have things exactly your way, and nobody gets to gainsay you. So I know just where you’re coming from, even if I’m coming from the diametrically opposite angle.
Can’t think of anything. I usually wanted books, and usually got the ones I wanted.
Yeah. I was boring even then.
I always wanted science toys. I lusted after the chemistry sets and the crystal growing kits and the ant farms (although not as much after all the ants escaped from my brother’s ant farm and we had an ant infestation for weeks) and all the really neat looking stuff. But my parents didn’t think I could really want them because I was a girl and therefore the most sciencey thing I ever got was a rock polishing kit for jewelry.
I haven’t gotten any of them for myself, but I still kind of want them! Maybe someday.
I always wanted a different birthday (salute to @rbf from another Eve baby) so I wouldn’t have to bend my birthday parties around people’s Christmas plans and, invariably, have half the people I invited not be able to show up. Or I was out of town myself, leading to at least one really awkward party at my grandparents’ where they invited a lot of their neighbor kids, none of whom I knew. It was a sweet gesture, but kinda empty at the same time.
Oooh, and nothing says “Happy birthday!” like getting dragged off to super-long, really tedious church services by your sincerely but obnoxiously religious relatives.
Sure, I could have had the party earlier or later, but dammit, other people get birthday parties ON THEIR BIRTHDAYS. (It made sense when I was 8.)
About the time I turned 13 or 14, I decided big birthday parties were too much trouble, and since then my family has taken me out to dinner, when we can find a nice place that’s open, or we do something similarly low-key. And once I shanghaied some friends to take me out on the night of the 23rd, on the theory that after midnight, it was my birthday and there wasn’t anything wrong with having my celebration first thing in the morning, especially as I was taking the day off work anyway. Good times.
These days, my trump card has been overtrumped, as my nephew’s mother is one day younger than I am. Pretty much spikes my “but I never got to do what I wanted on my birthday!” gun, right there.
Oh, and as long as I’m going off on tangents, the least overwhelming birthday gift I ever received, the year I turned 13, was a new bed. A double bed, to replace the twin bed I’d jumped on and beaten into a puddle. It was a very thoughtful gift, but didn’t have teh sexay, you know? My dad was visibly disappointed that I wasn’t more thrilled.
Well, I kept that bed until this last move. I finally trashed it because it was poking out wires and one side of the mattress was noticeably lower than the other, and it was generally time to move on. I got worried when my dad came over to help me move the mattress and box springs to the Dumpster — would he see this as the final repudiation of a quarter century of disappointment with his largess?
“When did you get this bed?” he asked me as we dropped (threw) the mattress next to the Dumpster.
Apparently he’s over it. ;-)
I asked for a ham radio when I was 7 (hey, I was ambitious!) and instead a telescope showed up under the tree. I was not disappointed.
When I was 12 I qualified for my limited license and saved up for a radio. Between it and the telescope I was uber-geek for a couple of years.
This was before digital watches.
I wanted a car. Instead of having to drive Dad’s yellow (he called it beige but it was yellow) station wagon. And oh, I got a porche that year. A 4 inch long toy porche. Parents thought that was funna. It was cute and fun to tell people I got a porche but it wasn’t a CAR. lol. They still bring up the year they gave me a porche. heh. oy vey.
I got myself an ipod for my 40th bday this year. May get myself an iphone for christmas…. Usually I get myself cool jewelery.
Gads, I made it sound like I was dirt poor. I wasn’t, but my dad worked in defense and aerospace, and while he loved his work, it was never entirely stable, even at the height of our involvement in Vietnam.* But he did cool, geeky stuff, and it was good work if you could get it. He eventually moved on to a more stable industry where he still did cool, geeky stuff for better money and benefits.
Thanks to him I now make money writing about geeky stuff.
*And now you guys know I’m an old fart.
I always wanted a Ghostbusters action figure firehouse and all four of the Ghostbusters in their normal uniforms, not the weird altered ones they kept coming up with to sell figures. I never got any of that but did get the Ecto-1 and some related action figures. I also desperately wanted a Nintendo and then later a Super Nintendo when I was a kid. My mother preferred to get me a lot of little gifts (including clothes) than spend it all on the big ticket items I wanted.
Yes, years later I bought all of those on ebay, just because I could. I got rid of the firehouse but I still have the Nintendo systems hooked up and ready to play and the action figures are in the closet. Yay for adult spending!
(Also, like most people I wanted a computer as a kid but never got one because my mom was quite a luddite and they were quite expensive for a single mom. Now there are six in our house. Awesome!)
Lincoln Logs! The big set that had everything. I was the youngest of six and the only girl so Mom & Dad always gave me “Girly” gifts. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my dolls but I lusted after those Lincoln Logs for YEARS and bought myself a massive old set (no plastic parts, please) at an estate sale when I was in college. Now, of course, my Mom claims she never knew I wanted them and that I never asked for them. She may well be right. Tragic.
Andrew Hackard @22, I find your tale of bed strangely hilarious :) Thanks for sharing.
I always wanted a remote control helicopter. I was aware that they were pretty expensive, so I didn’t really expect to get one, but I thought they were really cool. I remember that my grandmother wanted to get all the granddaughters American Girl Dolls and I told her that if she wanted to spend that much on a doll, she should get me a remote control helicopter instead. I got neither. I think she ended up getting me a dress or something.
Anyway, last year those nifty little miniature inside the house helicopters came out, and my parents remembered that I had always wanted one and got me one. I was home from college for xmas and I totally plopped down on the living room rug and started playing with it and I saw my mom nudge my dad and they were happy I was so happy with it.
In general my parents were pretty good about getting us stuff we wanted, within reason. They also had no problem with me wanting toys that were designed for boys. I had one of those sets of racecars where the track goes up against the wall and sparks fly when they crash, that was pretty awesome. Ostensibly it was for both me and my sister, but she had no interest in it.
Lego’s and RC airplanes and or cars. I have had all of them since. In fact I found something on the internet that makes me want to get a new RC glider. It is called dynamic soaring.
Keep in mind that these are gliders so they don’t have a motor.
I used to really want a Zoidzilla as a kid, something about the large robot dinosaurs really appealed to me for some reason* :)
I picked up most of the first generation smaller ones, some of the medium ones (The Great Krark, the Rhino type one, Ape thing), but never the Zoidzilla.
Needless to say when I saw it, and a bunch of other advertised cheap secondhand in one of the local papers a few years later, and had the cash I bought it :)
I’ve still got it, and most of the others (some of whom were used to decorate a Linkits case I made), up in the loft.
Oddly enough i’ve seen the same model in different sizes as the basis of cheap remote control toys recently (it looks like someone took the model, made some molds and used them for the new toy).
*If i’m honest they still appeal to me.
There was a big kit that allowed one to mix up one’s own make-up that I so wanted. I loved make-up (mostly because Duran Duran looked so cool wearing it!), and my mother had no problem buying 7-year-old me make-up to play with, but refused the make-your-own kit–she said it would make way too much of a mess.
CarrieV@2, I would have loved the Barbie head, too. As an adult, I have considered buying one of those, because I would love to drill a hole in the top and use it as a candleholder.
While I’ve never bought myself that particular kit, I do make giant messes in my house now, and have been known to leave them overnight. My inner child revels in the rebellion.
MarkHB @ 8;
My dad bought himself a Big Trak a few years ago at a garage sale — he claims it was for the grandkids but I think he and I had more fun with it. No trailer though, and I don’t remember ever asking for it for Christmas.
I was usually fine at Christmas — I’d suggest a few different big Lego sets or Micronauts and usually get one of them, plus assorted smaller less interesting gifts ostensibly from my three sisters. One year two relatives (I’m thinking an aunt and a grandparent?) got me the same novel, which was about hockey, even though I had no interest whatsoever in sports. (I ended up reading it anyway…it was all right, I think I got read of both copies not too long after that.)
I wanted a microscope. Not the stupid toy microscopes that kids today get, with no magnification and “slides” which are just pictures of stuff instead of stuff. No, I wanted a real precision optical microscope, consistent with what I got to use in The Microscope Club at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. My father’s mother indeed came through with it. Unfortunately, the crappy 1950s Japanese batteries in it quickly leaked and cemented themselves irremediably in the place where batteries need to go to power the little light bulb. But the mirror and an external light worked just fine. To get to the next step — what I really wanted — I had to marry a woman with an international reputation in electron microscopy.
I also wanted my own typewriter. I was thinking of one of those big ones that guys in 1940s movies used to bang out copy and have couriers rush to the editor who would scream “stop the presses!” Eventually, that same grandmother got me a very nice portable, useful in my last couple of years of high school to type book reports (including on Heinlein novels) and the poems which were all rejected by the school literary magazine (and later published professionally), and my first few papers at Caltech, before (1968) I took to typing everything in the IBM 7090/7094 mainframe and handing in printouts.
Oh, yeah. I wanted a computer. Or, as they called them in the early 1950s: “giant electronic brains.”
Had to buy my own. Oh, there was that useful period in 1975-1977 when I used the ones that Ted Nelson gave me to co-implement the world’s first personal computer hypertext/hypermedia network.
Oh, and a sexbot. Still don’t see a good enough one on the market. I did coin the term, in 1966 or 1967, as a contraction for cyborg-orgasm: “Cygasm.” It was the title of one of my pretty much unreadable novel manuscripts written as a teenager. Because, as Saint Scalzi sayeth, writing by teenagers sucks. In the sexbot case, more literally than usual.
Yeah, I was one of those horse-crazy kids. But it was never gonna happen, and now I can’t even commit to a cat, so there’s no way it’ll happen ever!
But in the universe of possibilities, I was always jealous of the neighbor girl’s Barbie Dream House–the one with the elevator. I ended up getting the pink Barbie ‘Vette, which was cool and all until I realized that the “remote” control was attached to the damn thing via a wire, so I had to crawl arond the house behind it. Looking back, I think it was another indication of the patriarchial hegemony’s attempt to rein in the horrifyingly wild, untethered freedom of femininity. Or something like that.
Still a Jehovah’s Witness, still don’t miss Christmas or other holidays. I do, however, adore Christmas lights and sparkly decorations. So what I want for not-Christmas is for the rest of the world to realize that it’s perfectly reasonable to have pretty lights and such year-round, without any holiday connection. :) (I haven’t yet indulged this myself in the sense of putting up little lights all over the house, but I have a number of light-up things like fiber optic flowers and for years have planned to have a room to put them all in. This has been a bit delayed by the acquisition of six cats, however.)
It still seems very strange to me to ask for a gift for a particular time. We did sort of end up making my parents’ anniversary a family holiday, which I suppose is the closest we came to an annual celebration (as opposed to one-time events that also merited gifts, such as graduations). Completely coincidentally, my parents’ anniversary is also Valentine’s Day and my grandmother’s birthday, so I’m actually really glad that we only celebrate one of those three. I will say that we’ve gotten funny looks more than once when going out to dinner, as there aren’t many family groups in restaurants on February 14. I just wish they didn’t jack up the prices that day. :P
When I was maybe five or so, my uncle started teasing me whenever Chia Pet ads came on TV. Apparently he thought a Chia Pet would be the worst gift ever, so he kept threatening to get me one.
The thing was, I thought a Chia Pet would be an *awesome* gift — I was obsessed with plants as a kid. So from my point of view, it was like he kept promising me a Chia Pet, every single Christmas, and I really wanted one, and he never got it for me.
I’m not sure why he didn’t figure out that I actually wanted one. He finally got me one when I was 23, but by then I’d moved on. My Chia obsession was gone. I remember wishing I could send the Chia Pet back in time to my seven-year-old self, who would have had a blast with it.
I wanted a pinball machine. Yeah, like that was going to happen. For a while, I held out hope that my parents would get me a cheap plastic one, but looking back, I’m glad they didn’t, because I would have been completely disappointed.
About ten years ago, one of my clients had free-play pinball machines in the break rooms, and I played a whole lot of Funhouse. It was enough to finally quench the desire for unlimited pinball … although, writing this, I’m thinking that if I knew of an arcade down the street that had Funhouse, I’d probably grab a roll of quarters and head down there.
I always wanted one of those 100 in 1 electronics connector kits that Radio Shack sold, but never got one. A couple years ago though, I spent about $150 on a soldering iron, nice multimeter, desolderer, etc. and parts for a headphone amp which I never finished building.
Pony. Never got a pony. However, we do have three horses: Rags (23 yo Appy gelding), Hap (23 yo TB gelding) and Lily (11 yo Anglo-Paint mare)
I wanted slightly more girl oriented lego sets that weren’t pastel pink and purple (I HATE pastels…) I actually wrote a letter to the lego company when I was ten or so, asking them to make zoos and farms and stuff. They wrote back saying that there wasn’t a market. But, hey, I was just excited that they wrote back :)
There were two things I really wanted as a child and didn’t get.
The first was a toy stuffed giraffe — don’t ask me why. My mom tried very hard to find one, and never did. And no, I have never bought one for myself. I remember wanting it desperately for about two years, then forgetting about it until you brought this up. I must have been 4 or 5 when I wanted it.
The second thing I wanted was an Easy Bake Oven. My parents said it was too expensive, and you had to keep buying mixes for it. I finally got one and couple of years later, a hand-me-down from an older cousin, but by that time I was cooking with a real oven and didn’t want it.
I still love to cook.
The memory of wanting the EBO was what made me find the WOOLY MAMMOTH hair for my youngest son, when he begged for it two years ago. It was the ONLY thing he asked for. It is still his favorite present ever.
I secretly pined after a Nintendo gaming system… and still don’t have one. I also really wanted a car for my birthday/Christmas present the year I turned 16… but still don’t have one. Although I do have a snazzy RTA pass :-)
I always wanted a Nintendo, too. My neighbors had one and I loved to go over and play Contra and Castlevania. It wasn’t until the Ninento 64 came out that I was able to convince my mom that the damn thing wouldn’t rot my brain.
I wanted an Easy Bake oven. No luck. But I have a pretty darn spiffy GE gas oven/range combo that gets a heck of a workout now. And someday I’ll have a gourmet kitchen.
I also wanted enough Lincoln Logs to build a palace – a huge, huge log mansion, not just a stupid little square cabin. I only ever got the one box. Desire should have turned me into an architect. (it didn’t, I work in IT)
I honestly don’t remember— my parents were pretty good about getting me cool gifts that I didn’t even know I wanted.
I actually liked getting clothes for Christmas— I was perennially outgrowing the stuff I liked. One unfortunate Christmas, my sister got me a set of turtlenecks that I wore once— and which promptly shrunk in the wash.
I’m unfortunately hard to fit— and my build is deceptive. I have a whole bunch of 3/4 sleeve outfits that are supposed to be full-length. So what I want this year is sleeves that go all the way to my wrists. (Eddie Bauer, one of the few companies that understands that women come in Tall too, no longer has a store within 50 miles of me. Boo.)
I also wanted a pony for Christmas, but that was far too expensive when I was a kid (and we had nowhere to keep it). However, as an adult, I was able to buy my own horse (Rory, 16.1hh TB gelding) and had him for a wonderful 10 years.
Can’t remember if it was officially for Christmas, but I always really wanted an Easy Bake oven. I guess I’ve compensated by becoming the mad holiday baker (I’m posting on a dough-making break, covered in flour). To rub it in, my parents bought one for my niece for Christmas a couple of years ago, and made matters worse by commenting on how much they remembered me liking mine.
I was about to answer but Jessica has the same response as me :) I always wanted a Remote Control Helicopter. The cheap miniature electric ones are fantastic.
When I was ten, it was Conventional Wisdom that the “tooth fairy” would offer either money ($0.25 in the 70s) or a sand dollar as bounty for a baby tooth. I *really* wanted a sand dollar, but was always disappointed. At last year’s AGU (American Geophysical Union) fall conference, I finally rectified this with a purchase of a small sand dollar and a trilobyte.
A horse. And no, I never got one as an adult, because they’re still too damn expensive.
Every single Christmas I would go through the Sears Catalog, and every single Christmas I would ask for doll bunk beds. I thought it was the neatest thing, and no one I knew had it.
I never got it, and it became a running joke into my teens. My stepmother would ask me what I wanted for Christmas, and I’d say “blah, blah, blah, and babydoll bunkbeds, but I’ll never get those, so nevermind.”
I never bought it for myself because what would I do with it now? :P
Very good question, for which I don’t think I have an answer. I don’t think I allowed myself to want things very badly, because it always seemed that the more I wanted something, the less chance I had of it happening.
Moving away from that melancholy thing, favorite ever presents, when I was 5 or 6 or 7 (don’t remember hte years): an HO gauge Pennsylvania Railroad electric train. And a small cardboard *suitcase* full of crayons, all colors and several sizes.
Also, when I was 15, the piano. (And for my birthday at 16, Christmas at 16, and my birthday at 17. And, y’know, not getting much else for those later occasions was just fine.)
I wanted a really good bow. (My disdain for dolls was never more obvious than how I treated “Chatty Cathy”: I chopped off all of her hair, drew a moustache on her, and cut the string to her voice box so she couldn’t talk.)
My husband got me my bow — a stunning piece of titanium and wood of the compound variety (rather than the recurve that I wanted at 14…grownup tastes are more expensive). Married five years, and he armed me. That’s faith. (Married 12 years, and he had a sword made for me…forged meteoric iron, pattern-welded. He rocks.)
I never really asked for anything for Christmas. I always just said, “Oh, whatever you think I’m worth” when I was asked. So I was never disappointed.
Later, when I had a son who would say the same thing, I realized how very irritating that is.
A Sit-and-Spin. I thought this was the coolest toy ever. I have not purchased one, because I don’t think there’s one built to support my 5’10” 190 pound body. But I wanted the joy of causing spin-induced nausea so badly that I tried playing on one when I found it at a friend’s house when I was 15 (and already 5’9″ tall).
All sorts of random things, I guess, most of them aggressively marketed to me on TV. Domino Rally, Hot Wheels track sets, Zipcord Gliders, none of which I ended up purchasing later – but mostly what I wanted was a video game system. I wasn’t allowed to watch the cool cartoons (Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) or play non-educational video games, so I spent a lot of time at the homes of friends whose parents were not as mean as mine. ;)
When I was eleven or twelve I lucked into a once-in-a-childhood chance to buy an “incomplete” Sega Genesis system for dirt cheap that I knew (because I was obsessed with them) was simply missing a $5 adapter. I brought it home and had a huge fight with my mother, after which suddenly video games were allowed in the house.
I have since expanded my collection to both Nintendo and Super Nintendo, as well as a belated Playstation 2, and still enjoy all the old games I used to lust after. :)
#5 J.D. I also always wanted the mini bike. Our older next door neighbor had one, but never got to ride it. Never got one, but just got my kids a Razor little electric motorcycle last year. It’d been awesome.
After reading these responses and a little reflection, I feel bad I didn’t wait for them to crave it first…Did they miss out on something deeper?
Shiloh at 42
You’d have to modify some of the Town line, do a custom build off the Lego site, or buy stuff from the Lego resellers community to get something farm-like. But you’d have get the cows and pigs from one of the custom Lego-compatible part companies, and those things are like 5 bucks a pop.
And clearly, my toy never-gotten is Legos. I got Legos, but I really wanted one of the really huge sets that now sell for 60 or 80 dollars. I got a set or two from the next size down, but really you can’t have enough Legos. I haven’t gotten around to buying any for myself, yet. Instead, when we do our toy drive at work, I get one of those big ones to donate. I figure Santa is going to make at least one kid really happy this year.
Shiloh @42, Patrick @60: Actually, just this coming year, Lego has announced a line of farm sets. (Or perhaps it’s pre-announced; I’m not sure if this was in the official catalogs or just the leaked stuff that finds its way to BrickLink.) But, in any case, they’ve finally decided there is a market for them after all.
Between the ages of five and ten I wanted Star Wars toys. Action figures, the Millennium Falcon, the Death Star elevator shaft set, X-Wing fighters, the big Jabba the Hutt figure. But most of all I wanted the Princess Leia action figure in the white gown from the first film.
I didn’t get any of them. My parents never got the not-so-subtle hints that I wanted those toys and they probably didn’t understand why I would want them, because I hadn’t even seen the films, having been deemed too young to watch them. At the time, I assumed it was because I was a girl and girls were not supposed to play with Star Wars toys. But my parents bought me Hot Wheels cars without complaints, so that couldn’t have been it.
The Christmas I was fifteen, I had a huge fight with my Mom and accused her of never even getting me the Star Wars toys I always wanted. She honestly had no idea what those toys were and that I wanted them. But that Christmas she gave me a cantina alien (Hammerhead). Apparently, she’d gone looking in every toy department in town and eventually found the Hammerhead in a discount store, the last remnant of an old stock of Star Wars figures. I still have it. Later I bought a couple of different Princess Leia figures, a Han Solo to go with her, Yoda, Darth Vader, Lando Calrissian, an Ewok, a couple of aliens, etc… at various flea markets. So I have a pretty nice collection by now.
There was one other toy I really wanted, a doll dressed as an Egyptian princess (I wanted to be an archaeologist as a child). My parents couldn’t have missed that I wanted her, because I always stared longingly at her, whenever we were at the toy shop. However, it was a collector’s doll, fairly expensive for the time and I was deemed too young for such an expensive toy, so I didn’t get her. I tried buying her later on, even got as far as identifying the manufacturer, but I never found one. Eventually I bought a Madame Alexander Salome doll as the nearest equivalent. Still have that one, too.
BTW, whoever wanted Legos, if I could go back in time, you could have mine. I got a couple of Lego sets as a child, because all my cousins liked them. I never liked the darn things, though, and stubbornly continued playing with my wood blocks.
Ironically, I also got a lot of gifts my postwar deprived parents had wanted but never got, including a tricycle, bicycle, rollerskates, ice skates, etc… The only problem was, I wasn’t much of an outdoors person and never cared for those things.
Shiloh @42, Patrick @60, Brooks Moses@61
I’m amazed that there aren’t any Lego farm sets, because I could have sworn one of the Lego sets I got as a child was a farm set. It’s probably a European thing only.
The Fabuland line Lego offered in the early to mid 1980s definitely did have farm sets. Those were the only Legos I ever had a use for, because I really loved the animal figures. I’m pretty sure I still have the Fabuland animal figures somewhere, though the Legos stones that came with them went the way of all Legos.
I wanted a Snoopy Snowcone machine. By the time I got old enough to buy my own, they had stopped making them. Bastages.
There was an advertisement in Boy’s Life for a toy disc jockey set. You could play and record cassettes, do voice-overs on a microphone, put in a few sound effects, etc. Mom was relieved that it wasn’t some stupid action figure (and perhaps educational), so she scoured the stores for it. To our chagrin, she never found one. The marketing team must have been overzealous, or it caused cancer in lab rats, or something, but the Home DJ never made it to shelves. I turned my back on the chance of being the next Alan Freed.
After graduation but before leaving college forever, I got a job at the school’s radio station. For four glorious Sunday nights (11 til 3am) I lived the dream, spinning the CDs and murmuring the station identification.
I wanted one of those little scooters with a lawn mower engine on the back. I used to imagine riding it to school and hooning around with a mate on the back.
Now that I am all grown up, I ride a Kawasaki 750cc so yeah… as soon as I was old enough I scratched that itch :)
Nilrem @ 32
I still love Zoids. Because you get to build them. But to be honest, I think the “Dad buying pressies instead of being there” had a profound effect – I’m very specific about what I buy. My favourite purchase – non work – in the last 12 months is a 1980s Buck Rogers Starfighter die-cast (the one with the cross-bar to stop you stabbing people’s eyes out with). I’m sorry for the multiple posts, my fellow Whateverers, but this is really making me think. I’m not very “material”. I want lots of money so I can go where on the planet my friends are, and visit them lots – not to buy loads of (non work) stuff.
Even the toy Earth Defence Directorate Starfighter was work-fodder… http://www.imaginetix.co.uk/Images/EDSF/EDSF_34.jpg
Oh yeah this is easy. I wanted a “Big Wheel”;I’m surprised no one else mentioned it before now. The strongest years of desire must have been grades 3 – 5.
The ones on TV had adjustable seats and a compartment to store a sandwich and a brake to do power slides (I’m sure it would have been a total rush). However, with 4 other boys in the family just buying one “Big Wheel” was not on.
I had a friend growing up who had all the star wars toys. All the ships and the playsets. He also had the coolest toy ray guns from starwars. They made the neatest noises. I had all the starwars action figures. My Mom worked at sears and was able to get me a whole set in the carrying case with her store discount. But I really wanted my own tie fighter and Falcon … and whatever the ships that walked were called, and the ray guns. My Dad was very anti gun even space guns so that wasn’t going to happen. And I knew my parents couldn’t afford the other stuff so I never asked. But I do on occasion go to the toy section with my best friend and we still sorta drool over em. His Dad was a fireman and national guardsmen so he says his parents could never afford that stuff either. They ray guns he had. Too bad we weren’t friends as kids
Two things: video game system, and dinosaur books. For several years running, I asked for dino books, but got toys and assorted other things instead. Maybe there weren’t really any good dino books in the mid- to late-70s.
And later, I craved an Atari or Intellivision like nothing else, but my parents were convinced they would rot my brain. (Which didn’t stop them from buying my younger brothers more advanced systems later…)
No, never bought any dinosaur books for myself later. Yes on video game systems. I still have several systems that I rarely play, and I’m sure I would have passed them buy except for the “because I can,” factor.
I was lucky growing up with a geek of a dad the bought us all the video games and such that we wanted and every Christmas under the tree was a few Lego sets.
Now I get to relive the dream, I have a seven year old boy who is into Legos (He has more than I ever did) and Star Wars Galactic Heroes and I still get my electronic toys and my books
At some point in my early teens, I wanted a Simon game. But my mom decided to get me some electronic game that had multiple games that could be played. Which was probably very practical on her part but not the same. At some point early in our relationship my husband bought me a Pocket Simon game. I still have it. It may even have a part in the musical we perform at Confluence this year.
I was also disappointed when my parents had to move and sell the grand piano that was supposed to be mine. Realistically, I’ve never lived anywhere that had enough room to accommodate it. But I now have an electronic keyboard that can do more than just piano.
I always wanted a dog. Now I have one and it is totally worth the insane costs and hassle.
I really wanted a punching bag. I’ve yet to have the space for one…
I generally got what I wanted when I was a young child, but from the tween years on …not so much. Having a birthday on December 22 led to a getting gyped with those ‘birthady and Christmas presents’, and as a result I now celebrate my birthday in January right around the biggest sales. But the main problem was my entire families inability to get me what I asked for in any way, shape or form. I went from hints to suggestion lists to actual lists with exact titles, specifications, stores and locations in the stores and wind up getting God’s know whar, up to and includingunasked for linen and dishes that apparently I was unaware I desperately needed. Now I make the list, hand it out, they ignore it completely and I put on a fixed smile thinking about where I am going to buy the next day.
adelheid @72: Would that non-Simon game be Merlin? I had one and loved it…wonder where it went.
charles @75: Some people actively resist shopping from gift lists, thinking it’s more special and “from the heart” if they find something on their own that they think you’d like. With those people, I’ve found that it’s usually better not to bother with a list at all, because all it will do is give them a bunch of stuff NOT to buy you.
Andrew @76: I once thought what you said was true. So one year I din’t make a list; only to have my fanily request a gift list from me. Apparently they actually try to follow a list, but a weird translation error takes place. Or its an Irish guilt thing ‘this year we’ll get him what he wants since he gets us what we want oh look at that he needs a crock pot/chia pet/book aganst evolution lets get him that’. yes, my familly knows I read science fiction and I got a book about the the faults of evolution. And these people are not fundamentalist either, they are middle class Californian Catholics who vote a straight Democratic ticket. I just smile and hope for gift cards. Its tradition.
First of all my father was a Freudian psychoanalyst [U of C], which meant he thought that the only thing little girls ever really wanted was a her own penis. No matter what I asked for, he would tell me that what I really wanted was something I couldn’t have.
I think my reaction was generally EEEEEWWWWWWW.
My more grounded mother simply asked us kids to make a Xmas list. She grew up in the depression and had a gift for shopping on a tight budget. Somehow, even though we weren’t rich, she always managed to get me and my siblings everything we asked for. It also helped that I never asked for a penis.
When I graduated from high school I got something sensible — a typewriter. But when I graduated from college, imagine my shock when my frugal parents presented me with the one thing that I only dreamed of getting — a car. And not just any car — a ’65 Mustang. I don’t think they’d ever seen me so happy. And I’m convinced my dear old dad finally realized there might be something a female might want way more than a male appendage: the symbol of a male appendage.
When I was a kid the only thing I really wanted for Christmas was my dad but he wasn’t coming back so I guess I eventually got over it.
My Mum and Da we’re pretty good about getting us what we wanted/needed, but I was 6 when the last Indy movie came out and what I really wanted, was his hat. Not just one of the fake ones, but a honest to goodness fedora. My parents figured that because I was a girl, I couldn’t possibly want to be Indy. They were wrong. I’m 24 now, in school to become an Archeologist and this time around, that hat was mine.
A Lego Monorail set. I see them on eBay sometimes and think about it… But then I realize that I still don’t have anywhere to put the thing, just like my parents told me when I was a kid.
(I think the worst thing about growing up is realizing that sometimes your parents were, gasp, right about things.)
The one thing I always wanted for Christmas and never got: No socks.
The only thing I can recall ever wanting really badly was the ‘big’ set of Derwent colour pencils (36 pencils). Two layers of glorious colour in a tin box. This must have been when I was in late primary school, sometime after my dad died (when I was eight) and when I took to drawing in India Ink. My mum could never afford it and the best I ever got was the 12 pencil set.
And, yes, I did buy a set of 36 once I left school and had my first job. And I still have it, even though I rarely draw these days and a lot of the pencils are looking mighty stubby.
i wanted monopoly but instead got an insanely complicated and boring game based on australian sheep farming called “squatter”
saddest day of my life.
I wanted Meccano. This was long, long ago, in the 1950s. Meccano was for boys. I was a girl. Nobody would give me boys’ stuff.
I didn’t want clothes. And I didn’t want dolls. I had one; what would I want another for?
And I wanted a train set. My brother got one, and I took it to my room and never gave it back.
I got clothes every year. And a second doll, which I promptly sold to a neighbour. My family got the message. No more dolls.
But no Meccano, either.
I remember wanting relics of an impossible adulthood: silver flasks and cigarette cases. I neither smoked nor drank at twelve or fourteen, but that did nothing to curtail my romantic desire to be transported into the 1920’s. The best I got was a silver mirror and hairbrush set (which I asked for, unlike the flask, as I had no pretensions of ever convincing my mother on the matter). Now I still want the flask, and I wouldn’t mind a matching monogrammed case for my mp3 player.
Similarly, I recall wanting a locket, and when I received one, I wore it for a little while before finding it too cute and precious and feminine to ever wear with any sincerity. Years later, I purchased a silver oval-shaped one that I rarely wore but whose design I quite liked. Now that I’m married and have someone’s picture to put there, I wear it more often and with pleasure.
I have loved reading these! I guess I was blessed, I don’t remember ever being disappointed with my X-mas haul. I don’t know if that is because I knew what my parents could afford or what. I know that we usually had tons of presents, with hardly any big ticket items. One of my favorite parts was the stocking!
I think there were probably lot’s of things I thought I wanted when I was a kid that I didn’t get but I can’t remember any of them for some reason. I have better luck remembering cool toys I did get. The chemistry set was uber cool but I was only allowed to use it on our front porch after I stunk the house up with a concoction that included sulfur. Little walkie talkies one year and a Frisbee. Got toy trucks and a few Hot Wheels and always got really cool books. My dad was a teacher and bibliophile who would scour yard sales and bookstores. I guess that rubbed off, I have tons of books myself. I still have the 1930 hard back edition of Le Miserable that dad gave me in 1968.
Not just for Christmas but at any time my dad might show up with a cool thing that I could take apart and mess with. Old radios, Clocks, old machinery. I remember one desk clock, when I was 10 or so, that I took apart, cleaned up, and when I put it back together, it worked! I gave it back to my dad, he kept it for years after that.
Wow, you really tripped a memory path with this one.
@76 Andrew Hackard No, I think it was something put out by Radio Shack. It had numbered squares, if I recall correctly. And plastic pieces that fit in the squares.
@76 Andrew Hackard
It was an Amaze A Tron by Coleco.
TKay, Elaine & Alpha Lyra – Like you, I wanted a pony. Or a Horse. Didn’t matter. I asked Santa, but the dude never brought me one.
Santa & Mom & Dad brought me lots of other great things over the years – my favorite Christmas was the year I got a new bike – but not the mode of transportation I *longed* for.
We had a riding club when I was at Wright State University, which I (of course) joined. I learned to ride there, and teach riding (western-style). They did private boarding if you had your own horse, which I didn’t. The good news was I did get to fullfill my riding wish. I also learned how very expensive horses are to keep, and how much work they are, as well. I still love them, but now realize you just can’t keep a horse in the backyard in teh ‘burbs.
(For those who know Dayton and the Wright Patt AFB area, the riding club’s clubhouse and pasture was located where the Nutter Center now sits. Really!)
I wanted a zither. The Sears catalog had one that year, and it looked interesting.
A pink nightie set is not a reasonable replacement.
I have never, in my whole life, wanted a pink nightie set. Or, indeed, anything chosen for pinkness. I had thought that I had made my feelings on the subject of pinkness incredibly clear. Apparently not.
For me it was Lego – set 928 in particular (I think it was no. 497 in the US, and called “Galaxy Explorer”). I did get lots of Lego over the years (which became the core of my collection once I got through my Lego Dark Ages), but not 928 – until I bought one off eBay a few years ago.
I wanted a ThunderTank. I’ve looked them up on ebay, but now I can’t justify spending that much on a toy I wont really play with. Maybe some day, but not any time soon.
They actually make Lego Duplo Farm set.
The present that I really wanted was a remote-control car. My best friend had one and I really wanted to do races and stuff.
My parents never had a lot of money, but they tried their best. Since they always had a lot of things to worry about, their attention to what we really wanted wasn’t all that high, but I also often kept my wishes from them because I knew we couldn’t afford them.
There was a store in a nearby town that had all kinds of stuff, including cheaper versions of regular things (kinda hard to describe). One time we went there and they had a little red sports car, remote-controlled – on a cable. And slooow. I saw it and thought (and am convinced I also said it, but maybe not, I was a pretty quiet kid) that it sucked big time.
Guess what I got that following Christmas.
I recognized that damn thing the second I opened the present and all I could do was to put on a convincing act. Had to get it out of the box, ignore the cable, play with it. Tell them how much I liked it. They were so happy that they’d been able to get me something I really wanted, while I was swallowing tears.
Being poor sucks.
I never told them how wrong that present was, because I know it would hurt them even in retrospect, as one more thing they couldn’t afford when we were growing up. My sister and I are always very careful when we talk about stuff like that and keep telling them that we did get the most important thing, which is the absolute security of being loved.
As for the car, I haven’t gotten one for myself yet. I don’t really have the spare money and keep telling myself it would be stupid and unneccessary – I’m an adult now, right? – but I notice I keep looking at them. And writing that story down just now made me realize that I’m actually still bothered by the whole thing. So maybe I will eventually buy one for my 30th birthday next year.
I always wanted slot cars. I never got them. When I was all grown up I spent a small fortune getting a slot car track and cars to be the envy of every kid in the world.
Now that I’m middle aged, I want a hot girlfriend. I don’t expect to get that unless I buy her myself.
Wait … er, forget I said that.
@96 JudithW – Make sure you get a red car, and let them know it’s because of the great memory you have of the year they got you the red car. To me, remembering that my parents had tried hard to get me the right present is pretty special.
I can’t remember asking for any Christmas present when I was young. What I do remember is my Dad would buy me a book everytime we went to Edmonton – my daughter has the Narnia books still, and last time she visited she brought me all the Swallows and Amazons books he bought me, one at a time :-)
@ 98 Liam: That’s a really sweet idea, I might do it like that in some way. I’m not sure how much they remember of all that though. I must have been somewhere around 9-11 years old, so it’s been almost twenty years now. Wow, my mother was only a few years older than I am now…
Weird how that specific event has stuck in my mind.
Your daughter bringing you the books must have brought back quite a few memories, and it shows that she also appreciates the personal history behind them. Looks like you taught her well :)
My mother managed to create a similar little ritual with us. No books, but the memory of something sweet.
My sister and I both had braces, and to get them checked we had to drive in the next bigger city (about 30 km away) every 6 weeks because none of dentists nearby were doing work on them yet (the healthcare-system in Germany makes it possible to have work like that done even when you’re on a low income).
We usually spent some time window-shopping and had our food and drink brought with us. But every now and then we would have a little splurge: we went into one of the posh pastry shops where they sold pralines. Then we each would get to pick two, sometimes three of the pralines on display – what the people there thought of us I can’t imagine, there were usually customers before and after us that bought them by the bagful (not that we cared). And then we would sit on a bench somewhere and share them, by eating one half of each of our pick and a half from one of the others’ pick. We loved it, and I love that memory.
And I’m serious about having gotten the most important thing, being loved. We are all closer than most of the familes I know, and I look very much forward to celebrating Christmas with them. In the last few years I also noticed something: when the time to open the presents is there, what each one of us likes best is not opening our own presents, but watching the others open the presents we brought for them. And for some reason we are all very particular about finding just the right thing…
Ok, enough thread-hijacking for now. Back to the past presents :)
We celebrated Chanukah, not Christmas, and there were small gifts every night as well as coins. I was pretty easy to please–I remember being really really happy one year when my grandmother gave me pajamas, for Pete’s sake. And one year I got a Brownie camera, which was amazing, because my parents always told me I was too irresponsible to own “valuable” things.
The one thing that would have sent me over the moon was the thing I never dared to ask for: books. Yes, books. In my (Jewish!) family, we didn’t buy books. That was what the public library was for. One of my aunts, who understood me a little better than my parents did, passed along to me a fairy-tale book from her own childhood that I still own. It was the real deal, full of grisly tales and terrifying line drawings. I adore it still.
Power wheels. Nuff said.
the best soldering iron are those using non-filament heaters, the tip should be made of steel alloy too*`*