Editor’s note: This is the third in a six-part series about MDT staff memories of Gifts of Christmas Past. Check back for future installments.
Staffers at the Missouri Division of Tourism recently were asked to share memories of their favorite Gifts from Christmas Past, with the caveat their responses should be:
- Totally superficial
- Related to gifts received before age 17 or 18.
Overall, the results were varied, but fairly heavy on dolls and music-playing devices.
For now, let’s focus on Lorinda, Kelly, Lori and Tracy. They arrived during the early years of what’s called “Generation X,” but out of respect, we won’t (intentionally) divulge anyone’s age.
For Lorinda, the top gift of her youth was a Superstar Barbie, not to be confused with regular Barbie, who never achieved “superstar” status.
“She had an awesome hot pink satin evening gown, complete with a boa and fake diamond jewelry,” Lorinda says.
The doll, which retailed for about $10 in Lorinda’s youth, remains part of her family. It’s one of few childhood toys that survived the Great Flood of 1993.
There was an awkward silence when we asked about the fate of Barbie’s sister, Skipper.
Another top gift Lorinda recalled was a Midland boombox. It had a radio with a double cassette deck, thus allowing the owner to copy existing tapes and/or record songs off the radio.
“The speakers were detachable, so they could be spread out several feet, creating a primitive ‘surround sound’ effect,” Lorinda adds.
Despite advancements in technology, Lorinda’s parents still have the radio, which cost about $100.
We’ll continue the music theme with Kelly, who says her favorite gift was the album from the movie “Grease.”
That’s not a typo.
“I was 10 years old when the movie came out,” Kelly explains. “I loved the high school setting, music, dancing and fast cars.”
We’re surprised at this choice, but it is clear Kelly is sincere. She kept the album, which retailed for about $10, for nearly a decade – which is roughly nine years longer than either John Travolta or Olivia Newton-John actually owned it.
Kelly’s second-favorite was a Pac-Man video game, which at the time retailed for about $30. She kept it for three years – or seven years less than the “Grease” album – and enjoyed both the stylistic simplicity and challenge the game presented.
Next up is Lori, who recalled perhaps the most luxurious gift of anyone on staff: a trip to Disney World. Lori’s mother grew up about 30 miles from Orlando. The family often traveled back for summer trips, but in 1971, Lori’s family chose to go during Christmas.
“What made this year different from all the other annual vacations is that a little place called Disney World had just opened in October,” Lori says. “I had just turned 7 at the beginning of December. I can’t imagine they told me we were going much before we actually did, or I would have driven everyone crazy talking about it.”
Lori notes her father used to call her “motor mouth.”
Although she retains some memories from the trip – getting lost, the Monorail ride through the hotel, and massive Christmas ornaments – Lori has no souvenirs left from her adventure.
“However, I am wearing my Donald Duck necklace in my class picture from that year,” she says.
Given that she’s a fashionista now, we’ll let that accessory indiscretion slide; it was the 1970s, after all.
Let’s cap the review of this generation with Tracy, whose favorite gift was not a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time (you’re welcome, “A Christmas Story” fans), but instead a Red Ryder sled.
Tracy was quick to point out she received the sled with the metal runners, not plastic, and that her favorite sledding spot was a huge hill next to her home.
“After a few runs down the hill to clear the path, we would shoot down that hill screaming and laughing the whole way,” Tracy recalls. “My mother was praying we wouldn’t break anything.”
We think she meant bones, not metal sled runners.
Tracy doesn’t recall the retail value of the sled, saying, “I wasn’t interested in the cost of the items back then, Santa brought them.”
Apparently it was costly enough to keep. Her parents still have it.
However, there’s no word as to when Tracy last rode it.