It’s a Snap
I grew up before the creation of the internets. Since there was no internet, there was no eBay, no Amazon, and no online shopping sites. Not only did we not yet have internet, but there was also no cable or satellite television. All we had were ABC, NBC, and CBS. With only three networks, programming was quite limited. There was no time for television shopping channels such as QVC and HSN. What we did have was the Sears Wishbook Christmas Catalog. Once a year around Thanksgiving and what is now Black Friday, the mailman would deliver the 300-page catalog to our front door. This was a very exciting time for my sister and myself.
Ninety percent of the catalog was worthless. Full of boring things like blenders, toaster ovens, fruitcake, socks, underwear and pink bunny pajamas. However, in the back half of the catalog after the order form and section with fake Christmas Trees and holiday decoration was the toy section.
All year long we looked forward to scanning through the toy section of the Wishboook. It had everything that a kid could dream of. The start of this section was normally suitable for either boys or girls. It contained bicycles with banana seats and ape hanger handlebars. There was all manner of sleds including the famous Flexible Flyer. It contained pogo sticks, jump ropes, baseball gloves and other items for the active child. For brainy and artsy kids there were chemistry sets and woodworking projects.
Those pages were just the warm-up for the real toys. What came next were the two sections that put the “wish” in Wishbook. The creators of the first section targeted all of their marketing efforts directly at little girls. In it, they placed every manner of Barbie and baby doll. They led off with the Dressy Bessy. She was full of buttons, zippers, and snaps that taught little hands how to dress. Next, they placed bath time baby which girls could take into the bathtub without ruining the doll. The coup de gras was a life-sized disembodied Barbie head that came with all sorts of makeup and hairdressing product.
After the girly section of toys were ten to twelve pages of sheer bliss. The catalog creators targeted little boys with electric train sets and race car tracks that twisted and curved over and under in what seemed to be a mile of track that took up an entire living room. They added vibrating electric football fields with little plastic quarterbacks and linemen that marched across the metal field when you turned on the switch. Tonka trucks and bulldozers that could dig sand in the Summer, or plow snow in the Winter came next. There were COX Cars and Airplanes with tiny gas engines. We called them remote control. In my day, that meant they were attached to the end of a string because radio transmitters were still much too big to fit in toys.
My favorite three pages of the entire catalog were the building toys. There were Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Erector sets, Girder and Panel skyscrapers, and brand new in the 1972 catalog was a plastic building block called Legos. Imported all the way from a place called Denmark, this set of over a thousand bricks with a hundred different shapes and sizes could be snapped together to form anything that the creative young mind could think of.
How old were you when you first learned that Santa Clause was not real? For me, it was just a couple of months before my 6th birthday. My sister and I had circled several of our favorite toys in the 1972 Wishbook. Mom and Dad explained that Santa sometimes needed to consult with parents to find out what the elves should build for each kid. We were a little puzzled that Santa could tell if we were naughty or nice, but didn’t know what our favorite toys were.
My sister and I kept the faith until one morning a couple of weeks before Christmas. We were in the living room waiting for the school bus. Mom was in the kitchen, and dad was in the bathroom. Dad must have thought that we were already out the door because he started telling mom what presents he ordered for Christmas. The mailman had already delivered the disembodied Barbie head and the Lego blocks from Sears. We were happy to hear what we would be playing with on Christmas morning but were somewhat disappointed to find out that the whole Santa thing was just a charade.
I tried to act surprised when I opened my Legos on Christmas morning because I didn’t want dad to get in trouble. That afternoon and for many years later, I built many creations with the Lego bricks. I would build cars, tractors, boats, houses, pyramids and with Dad’s help towers that touched the ceiling. After each creation, we would tear down and put the blocks all back in the buckets where they belonged.
It has been forty years since that Christmas. The vacuum cleaner claimed many of those Legos. The ones that did survive are still in buckets in mom and dad’s closet. The grandkids still play with them when we visit. Not once have we emptied out the bucket of bricks and had an already built creation spill out. Everything that was ever created with Legos has been thought out, designed, and snapped together by human hands. The Lego sets that my kids buy today even come with books that have step by step instructions to create a specific model. It would be absurd to think that you could shake up a tub of loose Legos and the pour out a fully formed model. Even if you shook for a million years, you would still just have a bunch of random bricks poured out on the floor.
Many people believe there is no God and life just accidentally came into being over millions of years of elements being shaken up and poured out on the Universe. If there is one thing that I’ve learned from my Legos it is that every creation has a creator.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.