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Saturday, December 25, 2010

AND BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED....

This movie was cool. Nothing to do with this blog tho..




As I type this out I am listening to Vince Guaraldi's jazz soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas".     As we come to the holidays and the close of another year I have been reflecting a lot lately on life and my family, most of which has passed away. Instead of sadness I am definitely on the side of the warm and fuzzies tonight. I'm where I'm supposed to be at this exact moment in time. A place where people love me and appreciate my friendship. I'm glad that the people I choose to surround myself with in life don't care about the commercialized, pissing contest that the holidays can be to some. Although I am not fully pleased with my station in life, it's all about the journey and at least I know I'm not alone on this road. A wise man once said “it's not where ya from it's where you're in the mentals”. Or to put it another way: I will “fake it `til I make it” which has become my motto of late. In this spirit I'd like to share my favorite holiday memory of all time: The Sears Wishbook!


Not the idea of famous Sears catalog of gifts or the idea of getting any of them at all. But something else a little more innocent and special from my childhood. Growing up in a semi-serious Jewish family as a child meant Chanukah was our primary concern. But my parents being less conservative than most knew we didn't have many friends of Hebraic (editors note: Keefbonics) descent so they incorporated some Christmas spirit into out lives with stockings, a small tree (my dad called it a burning bush of fiyah) and gifts. Even though times were tough and means were meager we always got a few gifts for Chanukah and some kind of small gift for Christmas so we wouldn't feel “left out” We also got chocolate bunnies at Easter even though it often conflicted with Passover. There isn't a deep meaning to this part except that I think it was cool my parents were concerned with our feelings and tried to spread the love around to multiple holidays so we would feel less weird.


We had this electric Menorah growing up.
One year for no good reason it burst into flames. 
My second favorite holiday memory is really a collection of memories. Since most of my friends celebrated Christmas, Christmas day for little Keefy meant getting to play with his friends toys when he didn't have anything especially awesome to share (like underwear or homemade mittens and hats with pom-poms on the top like South Park). My best friends from childhood are still my best friends today thirty plus years later so Jesse, Danny, Anita and Damien and your families- thank you for always including me in your festivities and making me feel welcomed and loved. It still means a lot to me to this day that your good fortune was also made to feel like mine. No one ever flaunted what they had- it was always “look at this cool thing we can both play with!”. I was a lucky kid then and a lucky grown up dude now.
Anita, Me, Jesse and Danny at Jesse's wedding in 2005.

Sears started putting out a holiday catalog back in 1933 and it made an indelible mark on popular culture and my life too. I recall the mailman knocking on our door to hand deliver the book because at 700-800 pages it wasn't fitting in our tiny mailbox. Every member of my house was vying to see it first. My father like to look at tools. My oldest brother liked to look at instruments and stereos. My middle brother just like to thumb through and look at the colorful pictures. My mother liked to look at clothes for the kids. Like most children, I liked the toys and games. Especially the original 11 Inch G.I. Joes, Lionel Trains and Star Wars toys once the movie came out and got big.




What made The Wishbook special besides the excitement when it came to our house was a ritual my mother and i would do together. The book already would be in the house about a week and mom would get out the book and have me sit in her lap. We would go through about 200 pages of the book- towards the back where the toys were a page at a time. Together we read every single description of toys or games that I was remotely interested in. The last line of many of them was “and batteries not included.” which we would say in unison, every time. Do this about 200 times and you are laughing hysterically. At least we were. It wasn't about the gifts because often she would say “I don't think that toy is right for you” if it cost too much or was inappropriate (“you'll shoot your eye out!”). I knew I was only gonna get one or two presents as it was and likely not from Sears when Corners Department Store was down the block from my apartment in the projects. But my mom made it a point to do this with me every year from about ages 3 to 8 every year and it made me really happy that she did. It was a blast.

Whether you remember The Wishbook and have your own special holiday memories or not – check out this cool website someone put up with entire catalogs (Sears and other stores) from the past here http://www.wishbookweb.com/ .  

Happy Holidays!

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