Toys and Christmas just seem to go together, at least in America, for about a century or so.
Even back in my grandpa’s time, children in the early 1900s received a toy for Christmas. Well, actually, the favorite story was about the toy that almost wasn’t.
Apparently young Clyde Matthew Davis, my grandpa’s given name, had asked Santa for a sled for Christmas. Said young boy then began snooping around and discovered his sled before Dec. 25. As Santa has the privilege of doing, Santa revoked the sled, pulled the plug on the whole deal so to speak, and the young child growing up in Western Pennsylvania’s snowy hills did not get his Christmas sled until New Year’s Day, a whole week later.
Perhaps it is for that reason that to this day, which is probably over a century after the tragic chain of events in Washington County, Pa., I still do not snoop around.
I remember, several Advents ago, a strong bond of mutuality which one particular musician made with his audience (males, at least) by describing how, as a child, he had taken his brand new GI Joe to Midnight Mass so that the priest could bless the warrior action figure. Though this singer is almost 10 years younger than I, the GI Joe action figure crosses several generations. In my case, GI Joe never was blessed at Midnight Mass. The year I received him, he was far too busy guarding the family Nativity and protecting the Magi.
The correlating female version, I suppose, is the Barbie figure for girls. Clearly, grandmothers are now a part of the first Barbie generation, and I suppose are sharing the long legged doll’s adventures with their granddaughters. In our house, the entire cross generational bonding took a rather bizarre turn when, one evening, two GI Joes and an Apache Chief Geronimo (all classic favorite toys from my era) stole my granddaughter’s pink Barbie jeep and took it for a joyride. That picture got a lot of “likes” on Facebook.
We see, among the classic toys such as the above — as well as bicycles, skateboards, etc. — some real one-hit wonders. For example, who really remembers Teletubbies, Beanie Babies, Teddy Ruxpin, etc.?
Some toys are, of course, not shelved, but simply updated. Aluminum ball bats have been the standard for many years now, but one of the real standout gifts in my memory relates to the classic wooden bat. At 12, I was the biggest and strongest kid in the neighborhood, and was thrilled to open a 44 oz genuine ash Louisville Slugger, so that I could return, newly armed with my “war club,” to being the local power hitter in the spring.
I guess the crux of the matter is, as you read this, it’s not too late. The time is short, but not totally gone, for you to contact one of the local charity groups and provide Christmas for a child who will not have toys. Perhaps the money just isn’t there, or perhaps the parents drink it or snort it up. Either way, that’s not your missions; what matters is that you can make the difference, provide the Barbie or the GI Joe, or whatever. If you’re really stuck for a gift giving outlet, contact me by email and I’ll guide you. It’s not too late to make it happen.
Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis Christian High School. He can be contacted at: