Post-Christmas..pondering my traditions…

Over the years, I have developed little traditions of things that are usually toys to find myself or ask to receive at Christmas. I am a toy fanatic all year round, but that fanaticism really gets ramped up at Christmas. There’s other things I like, too, as you’ll see….:)

 

1) A Pony for Christmas.

Yep,I was one of those horse-crazy girls as a pre-teen,but, after learning how much space and expense a horse would take up, I thankfully was able to channel that desire elsewhere: Breyer Horses. I have many happy memories of checking off particular models in the Breyer foldout guides that came in each model’s box, planning my “stable” and thinking up names for the new arrivals.

I still have many of my Breyers and I have found older ones from my collecting era on eBay that I always liked but never got around to getting. A true discount buyer, I gladly take the dinged, scratched models that are offered for cheap. And at Christmas, I have found a bit of joy in looking specifically for Breyer ponies– usually older models– and either asking for them or getting them with Christmas money.

Breyer didn’t make a whole lot of ponies, though, especially in my collecting years of 70s—80s. So in looking for old ones, I often have to be satisfied with the same mold of pony, repainted as another release. Breyer’s old Shetland Pony, for instance, comes in many many colors on the same mold, and my 2016 Christmas Pony was one: a 1970s bay I named Cinnamon Roll.

On occasion, though, the Christmas Pony takes a different form and I find it as a plush toy. In 2017, for instance, when I visited Tractor Supply Company to get a gift card for my stepdad, I looked at their Breyer selection, but they were all new models, were horribly expensive, and did not pique my interest at all. I am just not into the new sculpts(not that they are not exquisitely done) done by the artists who took over after Breyer’s original sculptor, Chris Hess, retired.
However, on the way out, I stopped by the stocking stuffer bins and…

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Pizzelle, my 2017 Christmas Pony!

….there he was. My Christmas Pony. A huggable,flopsy “dolly” sort of pony,bay with white socks and a face full of mischief. On sale for half off the original price, the pony was ripe for the taking and I left the store with a gift card and a happy little roly-poly bag-of-beans pony cuddled under my arm.

2)Rescued Teddy Bears.

I usually “rescue” several teddies each year from Goodwill and thrift stores and take them home and give them a good hot wash in the machine. Some I keep, and others I donate. Where I donate them is a closely guarded secret.

My favorites of these are JC Penney’s teddy bears, made in the 90s and sold in their stores at Christmas. They are large, terrifically burly,and cuddly. They also represent some of the last great teddy bears before they all began to be made with much more cheap-feeling plush, became spindly and “beany”, and their eyes all became too close together.

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Steve, me and Big Cinnamon. I got Cinnamon by winning a gift certificate at the flea market holiday event we were enjoying.

 

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My Weird Life: Playing with my Toy Horses!

Oh, my stars. Here is me, in the very early 80s, with messy unwashed weekend hair and my old bifocal glasses, playing with my giant horde of cheap plastic toy horses.
My dad made us kids a sort of hobby table in the basement—my brother and his friends used it to race slot cars for a while, then once they grew out of that, I came in and added a fake “grass” mat to it and it became my “ranch”. The table was technically in my brother’s section of the basement, and I just sort of took it over. In these pics you can not only see me and my toy horses, but a great batch of old 1970s toys in their boxes stacked along the wall.

Me and toy horses 2

I collected and displayed these horses in a way that you can see I obviously didn’t know the structure of horse families, haha. You can see I have a lot of little family groups, many of which match.
I’ll get to those toys back there in a sec. First, for the horsey folks, a closer look:

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Christmas 2017 Aftermath: The Christmas Fun Box!

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Christmas is gone, and in years past, a crushing depression would befall me this time of year. Taking the tree down is almost too much for me to bear; I am a Christmas junkie, through and through, and I don’t like it one bit when my fix is over.
Luckily, I belong to a couple of Facebook groups who are composed of Christmas kitsch collectors, and they have assured me that it is totally okay to want Christmas all year round in some way. They’re a fun bunch.
This year I am doing something new, and I wish I could grab a time machine and go back and tell my 20-year-old self to do it, too. I assembled a “Christmas Fun Box”.
See,I LOVE looking at old Wish Book catalogs,seeing what styles of decor were the thing, and seeing what toys were hot. What were the popular foods for the main Christmas dinner or snacks? And best of all, what sort of fun novelties and toys were the stores carrying that people bought for stocking-stuffing and party favors and last-minute gifts? This is what I wanted to curate; I’m already doing it with Halloween, and I got ready for  my Christmas collecting by getting a small, Christmas-decorated box…..

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Christmas Countdown: The Holiday Sucker.

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When I was about eight years old,in maybe 1978,I went with my grandmother to North DeKalb Mall. This was a grand mall, not very big and built in, I think, the 60s. It is barely a shadow of its former self now, but I have an enormous backlog of memories from a lifetime spent of visiting it. Back then, North DeKalb Mall still had a supermarket attached to it—I think it was a Big Star. Anyway, it was Christmastime, and near the registers there were the usual stacks of holiday cookies, crackers and candies. And there was a GLORIOUS display of these giant suckers, flavored lime and cherry,colored green and red, the colors sparkling in the sunlight through the store windows. Each one was different as the colors/ flavors blended together in individual patterns on each sucker.The festive lollipops were beautiful, and I had always wanted one of those giant things—-these were about six  inches in diameter.

They were $5.99, which back then was a lot, and although my grandparents spoiled me, they were still cheap. Still,  y grandmother relented when I asked for one of the suckers. Joyfully I started unwrapping it as she paid for her groceries, and once we got outside the store, I had the wrapper off, anticipating the first taste…

 

…..and it broke into a hundred pieces. Somehow I couldn’t tell it had been shattered inside its wrapper and it simply crumbled into dust in my hands as Grandmother fumbled around in her purse, not even seeing the disaster unfolding.

I am embarrassed to say I burst into tears. Once Grandmother saw the demolished lollipop at my feet, she quickly assessed the situation and hauled me back inside. The next part is a blur—I don’t think she blamed the store, as it wasn’t their fault that some schmoe had busted up the suckers, but she somehow did convince the store manager(?) to give me another one. She made me wipe off my face and thank him, and off we went, me happily unwrapping a new, unbroken lolly and Grandmother probably very relieved that she didn’t have to deal with a crying kid on the way home.

And oh what an amazing lollipop it was. It took me three days to finish it, but it tasted AMAZING.