Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The Sears Catalog....My Christmas Bible.
It was a couple weeks before Thanksgiving in the early 80's. My dad, brother and I were outside playing Steelers football on a crisp, cool Saturday afternoon. I was John Stalworth. My brother Terry Bradshaw. I guess that would make my dad Chuck Knoll.
We kept replaying that scene in the fourth quarter of Superbowl XIV when Bradshaw took a snap, faked a handoff, and then threw a pass to Stallworth who, without breaking stride made a clutch catch in the middle of the field and took it all the way to the endzone for a 73-yard go-ahead touchdown.
The 'Stillers' (as we called them in the Ohio Valley) took the lead over the Rams and, ultimately, the Superbowl victory.
After going through that same exact play for the 100th time or so, a familiar green car came rolling down the hill and slowed down as it reached our house. We knew who it was. The country mailman.
When I was a kid, one of the most exciting things was getting the mail. In my opinion, when you're old enough to get the mail, you feel like you're contributing somewhat to the family. It's one of the special moments that makes you feel like an adult. But, not too much of an adult if you get my drift.
As the ball dropped from my hand, we slowly started walking over to the mailbox. Our mouths agape like zombie extras from Night of the Living Dead.
On this particular Saturday, the mailman was taking a little longer than usual, which could only mean one thing. He was packing our mailbox with a ton of extra goodies.
After he went on his way, the starting pistol sounded and the race had begun. Battling for space, my brother and I hightailed our way across the road to retrieve the treasure that lay inside our banged-up, black mailbox.
The handle was within my reach. But, as I grasped the handle, my brother pushed a hand to my face and belted in front of me. "Asshole," I yelled to my brother who returned my sour grapes with a shit-eating, Cheshire grin.
He opened the lid, reached deep inside the cylinderical, metal box and pulled out the pirate booty. A couple bills. A direct mail piece. Our country newsletter The Colerain Times.
It was a good haul by Saturday mail standards. Except, on this particular day, there was more.
"Look," I screamed at the top of my lungs. "You missed something."
Looking like Sam Jones sticking his hand into the alien rock pit in the movie Flash Gordon, I reached into the darkness of the mailbox and felt something big. Something important. Something fantastic.
As I hoisted the mysterious prisoner from its captivity, all was silent as we feasted our eyes upon:
The Sears Great American Christmas Wish Book.
It was 1,000 pages (or so it seemed) of Christmas possibilities published inside one dream catalog.
Now, before the internet. Before thousands of television channels and commercials. Before strip malls. Even before Walmart and Toys R' Us, The Sears Christmas Wish Book was our only Christmas link to the outside world of toys and fun.
It was the only way could get our fix on the latest and greatest toys of the holiday season.
It had every new toy. Every piece of NFL clothing. Every Atari video game. Every outdoor sports supply incuding sleds, balls, bats and kickballs. Basically, it had everything a kid could possibly wish for under the tree.
This book would be our Christmas Bible for the next month or so. We would eat dinner with it while sifting through the pages. We would dissect the latest and greatest new Stars Wars toys before school. We would take it into the rest room and read it for hours as we grunted and groaned on the toilet. In less than a week, it would have those white thumbprint smudges at the edges from turning the pages so much. We would circle, then recircle, every possible item that we wanted Santa to bring us under the tree.
On Christmas Eve, we would both finger through one last time before we went to bed, and pray to Santa Claus that our Toy Wishes would come true.
Which brings me back one particular Christmas involving NFL football and the Pittsburgh Steelers, which I'll talk about tomorrow.