Smelly Socks: Another Christmas season has come and gone

By Anita Spisak
Jan. 24, 2013 at midnight
Updated Jan. 23, 2013 at 7:24 p.m.

Charlie and Adam jamming.

Charlie and Adam jamming.

City Life

As we settle into the new year and a cold Chicago January, I realize that another Christmas season has come and gone. Boxes have been opened, toys and clothes have been tossed aside, and a lot of food has been eaten. The boys have assembled, reassembled and already lost some of their Legos, fought about 10 different wars with their plastic soldiers, tanks and helicopters and played on their drums and guitar enough for me to consider getting earmuffs.

I asked Adam and Charlie if they got everything they asked Santa for and they both replied enthusiastically "yes" and went on strategically placing their soldiers in my potted plants. So I spent the remainder of the holiday (well, not all of it) trying to figure out why it takes over an hour to set up an entire army with their artillery, hide the soldiers in elaborate places like between the blinds and pretty much take up the entire floor of my basement, but then in the blink of one minute the whole scene is destroyed.

I guess my memories of Christmas toys are different.

When I was a girl of about 8, I remember wanting nothing more than the pink Barbie Camper. I circled it in the Sears Wish Book and dog-eared the page. I told Santa about it while sitting on his lap, and I also hinted to my parents on more than one occasion that if this was the only thing I got this year, I wouldn't want anything else for Christmas that year.

So Christmas Eve came, and we had our traditional Polish Wigilia dinner, which we still all do to this day. My grandmother cooked the traditional 12 dishes, which included Pierogi and Golabki (stuffed cabbage) and afterwards, we waited patiently for everyone to be done with dinner so that we could go into the living room and start opening the presents. Beside the tree, there were two big boxes.

My cousin, Renee, got one of the boxes. I got the other. She opened hers, and lo and behold, out comes the Barbie Camper. She screamed. I waited patiently. I now opened my box and looked inside and there it was - a big, pink teddy bear. I almost cried right then and there. Where was my Barbie Camper? So I pretended that I liked it, but secretly wished that it was me, instead of Renee, letting out a scream of joy after opening the big box.

These days, it seems like kids get pretty much whatever they ask for. Even my boys got a lot of what they asked for, with the exception of a Nintendo DS, which was hinted at several times by Adam. They both wanted about 15 different things for Christmas and the list kept getting additions, but in the end they were extremely happy with the things they did get, and to be honest, they didn't even remember a third of what they originally asked for. When they ripped open that red and green wrapping paper and, of course, tossed aside the clothes, they squealed with delight for every army soldier and Legos set that came out of a box.

That's why boys are easy. At this age, they're happy with whatever toys they get. And several weeks after the Christmas explosion of gifts and wrapping paper they're still playing, sometimes for hours, with all of their gifts. As for me, I still sometimes think about that Pink Barbie Camper.

Anita lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two boys and two dogs one of which is a girl. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at



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