Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Crapbook: 1984 edition

Christmas 1984 was the first time I got up excitably early, probably ever. I had set my clocks early for the big day. Clocks? Yes, 1984 was the year I got more clocks than Coldplay, and also one of my favorite presents ever. But like with any good holiday, it was the company that made it special.

As always, there was the YMBC Christmas party. (I also know of pictures of the Christmas party at my mom's office, so I'll have to get those on as well.)

That's me on the far right, as you can tell by the heavenly aura surrounding me.

Colin and I mug for the camera as we examine the presents. I'm hoping for a tool to scrape off whatever's on the bottoms of my shoes.

All Colin wants for Christmas is his two front teef.

This was the year of Bigfoot for Colin, so this case and set of mini-monster trucks was just right.

Colin : Trucks :: Ian : Clocks.

Ah, the Melody Clock. For my 4th birthday back in May, I had (to my obsessive pleasure) received both toy clocks and real clocks, a trend that would continue for birthdays and holidays throughout the next couple of years. This toy was one of the best and most sophisticated. It featured several layers of cartoon illustrations that would cross and overlap as the hands moved to the music. Pretty sweet.

How we appear in an actual scrapbook.
On Christmas Eve, we all gathered at my house. My dad wasn't there, though he had moved from California to Baton Rouge that year. He came by either on Christmas Day or shortly afterward, with long American-flag balloons that we eventually turned into giant water balloons. You can do that in south Louisiana in the winter. I believe the switch plate on the left is the Declaration of Independence. I remember the tree being much bigger and fuller. Which it was, compared to me.

From left: Boo (of Scrabble fame); Colin; me (with yet another toy clock!); Mom; Mom Mom; and Ninnin (of Terminator fame).

Colin and I coveting our Christmas Eve presents. He's still wearing his A-Team shirt from last year. Among Mr. Macho Man's gifts was a brown toy dog that you could wash in the bathtub. He also got a storybook chronicling the adventures of some curious kind of robots that turn into cars. As for me, I don't remember what I got (besides that blue clock above, which I think was actually the second of its kind that I had). I only remember the love of my family.

And how awesome is that orange-and-brown couch? That thing shaped me.

This may be the most prescient photo ever taken of me (except perhaps for the final one in this entry). I'm holding the Tomy Tutor Play Computer, which held slightly less computing power (none) than actual machines of the time. What it did provide was a trippy motion-enhanced picture show, moved by the blocky keys (and like all good Tomy toys, it was gratingly loud). I actually used this image for my first blog banner. Like with the tree, this mound of toys seemed much more massive at the time. And in keeping with the theme, notice that I have two more clocks (the other one is partially obscured on my left). Seriously, they could have filmed the opening scene of the upcoming Back to the Future in my toy box. Note also my new friend, Teddy the teddy bear. The View-Master reels are for the View-Master I received as a present from my preschool teachers (!), while the books and puzzle cubes stimulated my brain from the point where my new PC left off. Not pictured: my Bontempi B1 organ. That thing was cool! It had a songbook, but mostly I used it to evoke a horror-movie score (which I accomplished by pressing down the right half of the keys all at once). Look out, Liberace!

I have no recollection of that blue box. I like to think it was something nice. Like, say, another damn clock.

This is one of my favorite pictures of myself and Colin. We managed to turn away from his toys for what was probably a painful couple of seconds. His swag included a Construx set, lots of toy trucks and cars and a Knight Rider car-chase set that had, among other things, a breakaway trailer for the car to crash through. Behind me is a vocabulary board game that I remember lasting for about a week. It had dozens of tiny cardboard tiles with letters and a word starting with that letter on each tile. Never stood a chance in our house.

Oh yeah, almost forgot about the BEST PRESENTS EITHER OF US WOULD EVER RECEIVE AT CHRISTMAS. This picture notwithstanding, Colin could barely contain his enthusiasm over his K.I.T.T. pedal car, which not only had a lifelike dashboard, but also spoke like William Daniels and even had a strobing V up front, just like the real Knight Rider! But that was nothing compared to my badass pedal Corvette. It didn't talk or have lights, but it did have a squeaky horn. And it was a silver Corvette. And it was mine, which made it better than his. We really stormed the sidewalk with these babies. When we were done with them for the night, my mom had us store them behind the big orange-and-brown couch, which I referred to as the garage. Mine had a license plate on the front that said, "USA #1." When I saw that my neighbor had the same license plate on the front of his truck, I tore mine off (I was a nonconformist even then), slapped it on K.I.T.T. and made my own "real" plate for the back.

Unfortunately, these toys came to sad, premature ends. I remember that one day, around the summer of 1985, my mom took the Corvette away from me right in the driveway and put it with the trash cans. I believe she said something about how it was time for it to go. I think one of the axles had broken, but I don't know for sure. That better be what it was. In any case, my favorite Christmas toy ever also had one of the shortest life spans. And this fuzzy, heavily enhanced photo is the only one we have of the cars. That's just ironic.

Colin's Knight Rider went at just about the same time. My last memory of it is he and I ripping out the circuitry, probably because the battery died. Yeah, we pretty much broke everything we ever loved.

I actually asked for another Corvette for Christmas when I was 9, but had to settle for Nintendo games and Hardy Boys books instead. Shucks.

But hey, clocks!

Sometime in the months following the holidays, some men in a truck would take away that old orange-and-brown couch. Truly the end of an era. And that wonderful Christmas would turn out to be the last I had at home for two years.

Next time in the Crapbook: The all-TV, not-at-home Christmas of 1985!


venessalewis said...

Ok, I have accumulated a few questions and/or observations while reading these awesome Christmas blogs:

1.)Who is this Terminator person you keep referring to? This is either a joke I'm not getting or someone in your family was really in a Terminator movie?

2.) Good God, there is alot of garland on that YMBC tree. LOL! What's funny is that you can barely even find garland in stores anymore. That was such an 80's decoration!

3.) So where was your dad in '84? Is this when they slpit? So sad! You all looked so happy in '83!

4.) OMG. What IS it with you guys and corvettes??!!

Ian McGibboney said...

1) It refers to my great aunt, whose real name is Linda Hamilton. We called her Ninnin — the Terminator thing is just something I'm saying here. She did not, in fact, star in the Terminator films.

2) There was one year, I think in the late 1970s, where the tree was screaming silver. I used to have a pic of it (probably at my parents' house). Very much a product of its time.

3) My dad probably had to work in '84. He'd just gotten a DJ job at WYNK. Like I said, he came later, either that day or the following weekend, and we had a good time then.

4) We do it for the girls.

Ian McGibboney said...

Oh, and to answer #3 in more depth: my dad had lived in California since about 1978 or 1979, and he always came in for holidays and during other acting breaks. They didn't live together again until 1988, but they'd always gotten along well enough.