**Repost, but since the original was deleted two years ago, I didn't think anyone would mind, especially since there are revisions.**
It's hard to know when Christmas lost its magic for me. Nowadays it's just a hassle of going to busy malls and picking up gifts, while calculating the ridiculous standard of measuring how much to spend vs. how the recipient ranks in your life. It's no wonder that my fondest memories of Christmas are from childhood. Everyone has their favorite gifts that they'd ever received, and maybe a couple bitter disappointments that result only because children tend to stack their hopes to the moon. Hence follows a list of my top 5 best and worst Christmas gifts.
#5 Worst - Purple bell bottom pants with orange turtles. I loved my Nana Esther, but her taste in fashion was truly questionable. Nothing worse than getting ugly, uncomfortable or embarrassing clothing that you're expected to wear whenever a relative visits. That's where growth spurts come in handy during childhood. Adults don't have that luxury, unless they get fat or something.
#5 Best - Amazingly comfy beanbag chair. It wasn't the cheap kind that's like to sitting on a trash bag filled with packing peanuts. It was designed with a head rest, and it was more comfortable than any easy chair I'd ever sat in or any bed I'd ever slept in. It was the centerpiece of that Christmas, as I sat in it the following weeks, reading my new "Age of Apocalypse" comics, listening to my new Nine Inch Nails and Aerosmith cassettes and eating from the giant holiday tin of caramel popcorn.
My beloved beanbag chair met it's demise during my freshman year of college, when I returned to my dorm after a weekend at home and my roommate sheepishly told me she and her boyfriend had broken it by sitting in it together. Judging from the busted seams and funny smell, and the porno tape left in the VCR, I doubt their activities were as innocent as described. I threw the beanbag in the dumpster, and stripped the sheets from my bed and toted them down to the laundromat, just in case.
#4 Worst - Anything "My Little Pony". These toys sucked.
They didn't do anything. They didn't look like real horses, you
couldn't move their legs, no dolls looked cool riding them...All you
could do was brush their mane with the heart-shaped fro pick accessory.
I hated them, but got tons of them because I was a little girl. Lucky
for me my brother was good at sharing and let me play with his new
Voltron, Transformers and He-Man toys with him. I loved Legos, but
never got any because they were generally considered a boy's gift.
Fucking lame, and My Little Pony was at the center of the holiday gender bias.
#4 Best - Zelda/Bionic Commando/Contra. I got these games
different on separate Christmases during the late 80's, and they still remain among my personal favorites to
this day. They haven't lost any playability in this age of insane
graphics and add-ons. Again, my brother's generosity played a big
part, as it was his Nintendo.
#3 Worst - Doll house. I liked dollhouses a lot. In fact I
asked for one for Christmas, and my Uncle Richard kindly bought me
one...it just wasn't the one I'd asked for, and I haughtily informed him
of this in front of everyone. He was really embarrassed, and now years
later, so am I. So it wasn't the gift that was crappy, it's just the
memory of my snot-nosed attitude that's crappy. It was exactly the type
of thing that would inspire me to write a blog about how shitty and
ungrateful kids are these days.
#3 Best - My stuffed dog, Joey. Not one of those creepy stuffed dogs that eccentric business men have mounted on a pedestal in their giant office. Joey was just a plushy stuffed dog with button eyes that was just my size when I received him as a five year old from the same uncle that botched my dollhouse gift order. I had asked for a dog, but my parents said I couldn't have one, so my uncle said he would and bought Joey for me. Many kids may have seen this as a cruel prank, like the kid who's parents stuffed a gently-used Winter jacket inside an XBox 360 display box, but I loved it. I was attached to him much longer than was healthy, and only demoted him from his usual home on the foot of my bed because I was too embarrassed to bring him to college with me.
#2 Worst - Antique, broken box of Crayola crayons. I used to play this little game with my Nana Jo, that she was unaware of her own participation in. When I was old enough to work and make some money, I'd buy her something progressively more expensive every Christmas to see if she would eventually give me something that hadn't been sitting in her attic for fifty years. My favorite ironic Christmas memory was the year I bought her this beautiful, hand-made Cape Cod lighthouse lamp and she gave me a box of used, broken crayons that were so old they had evolved into colorful rocks wrapped in labeled construction paper. I'm still surprised the colors weren't listed as "communist red" or "negro brown". Press as I might, I couldn't get those suckers to leave one bit of waxy residue on a piece of paper without tearing it to ribbons. She said she picked them out for me because she "knew I liked art". I guess it was because she grew up during the Great Depression. She was one of those old ladies that was a wicked pack rat and had a collection of salad bowls with "Country Crock", "Cool Whip" and "Stop & Shop Orange Sherbert" written on the side.
#2 Best - Play kitchen. It's amazing how much fun a little girl can get from serving plastic cuisine to guests in the living room after telling them she cooked it on her very own stove. Oh, you didn't order fried eggs? Well too bad, because that's what you're getting. Here's your side of plastic brussel sprouts. I can't figure out why I showed such a keen interest in this toy as a child when my cooking repertoire as an adult doesn't stretch much past hot dogs, kale soup and seven-layer dip.
#1 Worst - Sense of shame. I don't really remember who gave me this "gift", but I'm thinking it was a joint contribution between my parents, grandparents and a select number of K-12 teachers. It was built up over the years, every time I was gently reminded that not all kids are as lucky, or told not to be greedy as I wrote to Santa that I want my own TV, VCR and Power Wheel, or was chastised for not pretending to love the present I so clearly hated (My Little Pony, in most cases). Not only is it a source of annoyance for me until this day, but it is quite shoddily made. It's there, but it's not enough to keep me from looking a gift horse in the mouth and ranking the worst presents I've ever gotten, or spending time on Ebaum's World when I probably should be working. I think it's broken.
#1 Best - Sega Genesis/Super Nintendo. The only reason the regular NES isn't included here is because it was given only to my brother. The Genesis however was a gift to us both. We woke up to find it already hooked up to the TV, with "Sonic the Hedgehog" and "Toejam & Earl" just waiting to be played. It was a badass system, and our house became a main attraction for kids in the neighborhood. The Super Nintendo arrived a couple years later, and it was given to me only. I was grateful to have a hand to play whenever my brother and I got into a fight. "I can't play your Nintendo, huh? That's fine, but you're not allowed to play my SUPER Nintendo...bitch!!"
"Super Mario World" seemed like it couldn't be topped, but to my amazement was one-upped (no pun intended) by later gift installments of "Mario Paint", "Chrono Trigger", "Turtles in Time", "Run Saber", "Earthworm Jim", "Royal Rumble", "F-Zero", "Pilot Wings", "Star Fox", "Super Castlevania", "Mario Kart", "Out of This World" and the best game of all time "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past". I spent way too much time playing, and probably killed a bunch of potential to do something useful with my time. Oh well, time spent having fun isn't really time wasted, right?