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Pauline Baird Jones: The Wish Book

Pure magic inside for my 7 yr old self! Sigh.
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A lot of my friends do not want to think at all about Christmas yet. I will confess to being woefully unready for Thanksgiving, let alone Christmas, but I’m still going to go there. Why? Because it was about this time of year that my mom would release the Christmas Wish Books from captivity.

(One year we got to them early and the feeding frenzy about drove us all crazy and the books were in tatters!)

I grew up in a small town, so the bulk of our Christmas shopping was done either through Montgomery Wards (we had a small catalog store in town) or the Sears and Roebuck catalog. I was an adult before I stepped inside a Macy’s, though we watched their parade on Thanksgiving Day.

We must have also shopped Penney’s, but I don’t remember it as much. Keep in mind, that my memory is entering the faulty zone. But even if you throw in a third catalog wish book, the math was still six kids to three wish books.

And I was the middle (ish, I was the third) kid. So whether the wish book time went from oldest to youngest, or youngest to oldest…yeah. But anticipation was part of the fun. The rest of the fun was about the dreaming and wishing and wondering.

The wish book would be unwrapped, all smooth and bright and Christmasy. The toys were at the back and when my turn came, I went straight there. Forget the clothes and books and other practical stuff. The wish book was about magic. It was about seeing toys and games that we didn’t know existed until we opened the book.

I’d never seen real houses like this!
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We’d all hang over the sibling with first shot at it, though that didn’t work that well for my sister and I since we had two older and two younger brothers. Still, you could catch glimpses of the girl stuff as they flipped past.

And then my turn would come. I used to start at the beginning of the toy section, because I hated to miss anything. I found this link to the Sears Wish book on Flickr. It has way too many pictures of the clothes of the time, unless this were a blog post about clothes, instead of wishes and dreams. But if you work your way down, there are some shots of the toy pages.

We thought that Ken doll was seriously stylin’.
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I was a girly girl, so I was more interested in the dress ups, the dolls and doll houses, though I also liked the board games and bikes. In those days, we played outside as much or more than we played inside. Baby dolls were popular but the most popular doll was, you probably guessed it, the Barbie.

I got that car and the bed (see the Christmas morning photo below). And of course, we had a case to carry the Barbie and her clothes to friends’ houses to play. I had a friend that had a Barbie house. So dreamy!

Back then, with their then five kids, my parents didn’t have a lot of money, but our dolls were seriously sassy in clothes made by my mom. Not sure we knew it at the time. But I’m pretty sure those came in the wrapped presents. Even a seven year old might have smelled a rat if Santa’s elves had made clothes out of the same fabric as our handmade Christmas dresses. Yup, our dolls matched our Sunday duds. And yup, we totally believed in Santa. My parents were seriously good at it. They totally rocked Santa-hood.

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, steampunk, humor, Project Enterprise

See, wishes do come true!

We’d go to bed leaving a tree with presents around its base and wake up to pure magic as our wishes came true. Looking back, my parents must have been really good at reining in the wishes and steering us to what they could afford, but it looked and felt like magic at the time. It helped that they had six kids, too. Even small Santa output looked big when times’d by six.

Now that I’ve been a parent (and Santa) and am anticipating being a grandma soon, I’m even more impressed at what my parents accomplished. With more kids and less money, they created magic for all of us, a magic that I now know was a love that still reaches out like a hug.

One of the wishes neither Santa nor the parents could deliver was my wish to become a published author. Thanks to support of family and friends, my wish came true in 1998 when The Spy Who Kissed Me was first published as Pig in a Park. When I moved the book to L&L Dreamspell a few years ago, she asked that I go with The Spy Who Kissed Me because it better reflects the romantic suspense elements in the book, while also indicating (I hope) the humor.

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, project enterprise series, steampunk, humor

It won a Dorothy Parker Award, too. 🙂

I miss the wish books. I miss believing in Santa and I miss spending the holidays with my mom and dad. What about you? Did your family “do” the wish books or did you have stores around to fulfill that function?

All comments are entered into my monthly drawing for a $10 AnaBanana Gift Card of yummy magic. Winner is announced first blog post of the month. 🙂

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, steampunk, humor, Project Enterprise

 Perilously and wishfully (wistfully?) yours,

Pauline