Tis the season – for catalogs

It is the “wish book” season, around this house at least.

That is my favorite relaxing pastime lately – browsing through a variety of catalogs or “gadget” magazines as Jack likes to call them.

Ever since I ordered a couple of things, we seem to get a ton of them every single week, sometimes as many as two or three a day, and I simply cannot throw them away without looking first.

Sale catalog browsing really takes me back. I can sit by the fireplace for a couple of hours, just looking through them.

It’s the way I grew up I think. We didn’t get to “go shopping,” like we do today. When I was in Elementary School, school clothes shopping was accomplished in a single trip to Lansing just before Labor Day.

That was a whole different world from our little community of Roscommon, where there was one clothing store, one “dime” store, two drug stores and a couple of groceries. I looked forward to that trip down Old 27 for weeks ahead of time and the actual trip seemed to take absolutely forever.

Once there it seemed like there were more stores than we could possibly make it to and things like escalators (amazing!) and more clothes that you could possibly look at. I don’t remember anything about the trip home, but I was probably asleep by then.

That “brief” visit to the big city life had to last a long time. Anything else came right out of the catalog.

Christmas shopping was simply a matter of going through the “wish book” from Sears and picking out the things you would like; a bus trip to Grayling to meet Santa; and a trip through the woods in search of the perfect Christmas tree.

Of course our Christmas trees actually resembled “Charlie Brown’s” much more than the trees you can buy these days…

Later when I was older, most of my school clothes came from the catalog. I usually got to pick out two or three new outfits and a winter coat when we made that order.

Oh, Mom and I shopped once in a while at Houghton Lake, Grayling, and even occasionally at West Branch. Sometimes we would take the little train (the B-Liner) between Roscommon and West Branch, shop all day and ride it home in the afternoon. What fun that was!

But always, fall and the holidays meant catalogs, and I still think that is the perfect way to get the things you can’t find around home, even if it does mean adding your name and address to 50 more “mailing lists” when you do use them.

Does anyone remember the television show about the anonymous man who gave away checks for a million dollars in every weekly show?

Jack and I used to use the Sears catalog or sometimes one from JC Penny’s to dream about what we would buy if someone made us millionaires. We could have a great time and spend whole fortunes in a single evening’s entertainment.

And that is exactly what it was, since we seldom had any extra cash to actually “buy” something.

When our own kids were “wishing,” those catalogs were great ways to “hint” to Mom and Dad when a birthday or the big holiday got close. And, sometimes those little notes tucked in the book actually worked.

At least they too had a lot of fun just looking and wishing and they always seemed pretty happy with the presents when Christmas morning finally rolled around.