Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Crapbook: 1983 edition

By Christmas 1983, I knew the drill. I have a lot of fond memories (and at least one adorably not-so-fond memory) of the season. That year, the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were all the rage. Mercifully, they found no room in the already crowded playpen that was the McGibboney Manor.

On December 18, 1983, the New Orleans Saints nearly reached the NFL playoffs for the first time in their history. However, a game-winning field goal by the Los Angeles Rams' Mike Lansford sent the Saints home with a 26-24 loss. So instead, New Orleans got the second-best thing: a holiday visit from our family. We went to see my cousins Amanda and Shawn, who you met in 1982 (and glimpsed in 1981).

And once again, we went to the annual YMBC Christmas party. 

"Wait, why can't I pout again? Oh, right, Santa's coming to town."

This was the year Colin learned not to pity fools. But I was no fool, so he could pity me all he wanted.

She still helps me open my toys.

And I think these are from the 1983 bank Christmas party.

This would have been the year I asked for "the big game with the little block." Meaning Trouble. Didn't get it.
"Isn't my little brother an idiot?"
Christmas Eve saw us once again at my grandparents' house. This I remember very well. Even the wrapping paper rings a bell.

I am wearing a footie suit with a patch of a doe-eyed creature that says, "Bright Eyes." This was my absolute favorite outfit and I wore it for at least two more years afterward. The fact that it still fit when I was five should tell you something about my ability to grow vertically. Also worth noting in this picture: the Atari video game storage case (which I still have now) and even more race cars.

Here, my grandmother (Lula "Mom Mom" Roberthon) is holding up her box of exquisite chocolates. But you'd barely notice that given Colin's impressive attention-hounding capabilities. Many cameras these days are able to pinpoint the point of focus by tracking the photographer's eye movement. My brother invented this (or at least the need for it).

Here you can see two of my most enduring Christmas gifts: the Smurf peek-a-boo toy (box) and Charlie the bear. I unwrapped Charlie (named most likely after I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas) right after my brother opened a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. This was during a phase where I thought I should have everything my brother had, so my reaction to opening Charlie was, "NO TIC-TAC-TOE?!!" But as this picture shows, Charlie clearly helped me get over my petty jealousy.

This may have been the year I received a football while my brother got a toy car at my mom's office Christmas party. I remember being very pissed off about that. Go figure. For a couple of years after that, Colin and I always got the same presents at those events. And then I got mad about that. Man, was I wretched or what? Look at that kid above. What a monster!

Here's my dad, Colin and grandmother posing with some of Colin's toys, including the aforementioned Tic Tac Toe game of which I was so insanely jealous. And once again, Mom Mom's chocolates can't catch a camera break.

And as is the custom, we left my mom a huge mess to deal with.

Scene: Christmas morning. Our house. 

Need I say more? Of course not, but I will. I recall being transfixed by the Christmas tree lights and the star at the top. But my main memory of Christmas morning is winding up my new Fisher-Price gas pump continuously for about 18 hours. I also enjoyed the letter-and-number toy next to it, so much so that I probably threw the letters and numbers all over the house, never to be seen or heard from again (I often did that with toys I really loved). The Strummin' Smurf guitar would re-enter my life at age 7, when I became re-obsessed with the Smurfs and tried to learn how to play the guitar. 

Colin's justifiably brandishing his A-Team van and Knight Rider big wheel. Not pictured: the Mr. T action figure that Nancy Reagan also received that Christmas. Just Say No? Not to B.A. Baracus, fool! Also not pictured: matching red and blue mini-Tonka trucks that are still in our toy archives.

Finally, there's my fire engine. What a sweet set of wheels! Not only did it have its own stick shift and even a trunk, it had a sound board on the steering wheel that emulated a horn, a siren and a rescue-dispatch call. Oh, how I enjoyed blaring those! Alas, I came home from preschool one day a few months later and the circuitry had mysteriously been ripped out. My parents were shocked, shocked I tell ya. Also, I eventually ripped off all the hubcaps and threw them under the house, inspired no doubt by the film of the year, National Lampoon's Vacation. Being that I was obsessed with license plates even then, I drew up many pretend license plates for my car over the next year. I still have one of them, which my dad made to my exact specifications. When I have access to it, I shall scan it for posterity. One final note: I had the fire engine for so long that sister (who was negative-7 in 1983) eventually claimed it.

My brother and I happily pimp our new rides for our grandparents, who look a little too sharp for the situation. Oddly enough, I have no memory of Colin's Knight Rider big wheel, but as you can clearly see here, it's awesome. I also have a great pic of my dad appearing to teach me how to drive it, which will eventually make its way here. (2011 update: I've since discovered that I had that picture the entire time in a really obvious place, so I moved it to a less-obvious place. I'm still re-looking for it.)

Colin's crown jewel was the train set. The sides of the cars had names for candy bars such as Baby Ruth and Powerhouse, and I remember being mesmerized by the pipe-loading mechanism and the way the lights reflected against the wall in the dark. Weird side note: when we moved out of this house in 1999, I found the boxes for the train set, Mr. T doll and the fire engine in the attic. The first two had long outlasted the actual toys. Maybe there's something to be said for kids liking boxes after all.

Christmas 1983 remains one of my fondest memories, and I feel very fortunate to have retained so much of the holiday feelings all these years later. Almost makes me forget that I never got the one toy I begged and prayed for all year, the See N Say with the numbers. Maybe Mom and Dad thought it would shoot my eye out.

Next in the Crapbook: I upgrade my wheels in 1984!


Jenni said...

I'm glad someone liked those footie suits. I had a few and hated wearing them with a passion.

venessalewis said...

I am so thoroughly enjoying this meme Ian. I can't relate to the specific toys you guys were getting but oh, the styles/photography is definitely taking me on a trip down memory lane. i wish I had access to my old holiday photos. Are your parents/siblings reading this? they should be!! LOL!!

I laughed out loud on "And once again, Mom Mom's chocolates can't catch a camera break." Love it!

Ian McGibboney said...

Jenni - I BEGGED my mom to let me wear that as often as possible. One time during the summer, she was dead set against it. Finally, I badgered her into it. Then I got really, really hot in it. And I finally shed it. And she went, "UH-HUH!"

Venessa - Thanks! I promise, you'll identify with the next one. Or Brent might, at least. You WILL like 1985.

Hathor said...

I identify with your Mom and those alphabets, only with me it was Lego's. My son was 18 when we moved to another house and I found one of those tiny Lego fences when packing.