Recently I was telling a coworker about my daughter’s special Rocket Raccoon stuffy from Santa and how much she loves it. That got us talking about some of the best presents we’d ever received in our childhood. One of the top ones, which I’ve mentioned before, was when my parents managed to track down a used copy of Final Fantasy III/VI for the Super Nintendo. I nearly lost my mind over that one, but of course there were plenty of other memorable ones.
- When my cousins and I “graduated” from kindergarten (pre-school, to some of you), our teachers put together this cardboard-and-construction-paper wishing well for us to toss pennies into. I got a coin from my parents and tossed it in while wishing aloud for a teddy bear. This must have been quite amusing to my parents because, lo and behold, when we got home they had a teddy bear waiting for me. With good nature they insisted that the wishing well must have sent it, and my believe in magic was rock solid for months, at least.
- When I was around the same age, some family friends gave me my first ever Play Doh set, the Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop. My mom had to grit her teeth at the gift because we had lots of carpet at the time (and if you don’t understand the issue you obviously have never watched a young child play with Play Doh) but I was ecstatic. That play set was the bomb, and I maintain to this day that it was the best Play Doh play set ever.
- Someone, at some point (my memory is actually quite fuzzy on this one), gifted me with a large make-up pallet. It was full of lip gloss, eye shadow, and blush in bright, vibrant colors, and was probably meant to be marketed to teenagers, but I got it when I was around ten. I looked like a complete doofus whenever I tried to apply anything and I totally embarrassed myself by going to school with a bunch of it on one day, but I had a blast screwing around with it until the whole case was empty.
- When the Nintendo 64 console came out I was a loyal subscriber to Nintendo Power magazine. I was always reading the articles about the new system and gushing about how amazing the “3D” graphics looked. Fast forward to grading day. My parents handed me a tell-tale rectangular box and I thought, “Yay! A new game for my SNES!” But when I ripped off the wrapping it turned out to be “Shadows of the Empire” for the N64. Knowing that my parents weren’t exactly geniuses when it came to video games (my mother called the games “movies”) I assumed they’d messed up and told them so. Then my father pulled an N64 box from behind the wall. I was never so happy to have been mercilessly fooled by my parents.
- When I was younger (say, 8-ish), it was actually pretty difficult to find video games. We only had so many stores that sold them, and they generally only carried so many. So whenever we’d travel to the bigger city where my aunt and uncle lived it was an opportunity to look for a new game. During one such trip we were walking through Toys R Us when my father noticed that a new game called Mario Paint was on sale. I had no idea what the game was (this was before my Nintendo Power subscription and long before we had internet), but when my father asked if I wanted to get it I happily said yes. It turned out to be absolute loads of fun. My cousins and I played it for hours, and it was the kind of game that I would keep coming back to month after month after month.
I was a lucky kid for sure, to regularly receive so many fun and memorable presents…some of the things I mentioned I even still have today! I hope that someday my daughter will be able to look back on her childhood and remember some of her favorite gifts…perhaps even a particularly special little stuffed raccoon…