My creative urges across time and space: Remembering the Sears Wish Book

I remember very little with great detail from childhood. The privilege of minutiae of memory belongs to my older sister. I believe she drained the maternal womb of memory-nursing sustenance. She is like a proverbial elephant of long memory! I am decidedly not. 
However, I do remember fondly snatches and pockets of sepia-hued good times, such as the annual arrival at Christmas season of the Sears Wish Book. What a treat it was to behold, like a gift unto itself! This, of course, predates unlimited exposure to unlimited products on the Internet, particularly through that Gargantua we all know as 

The Sears Wish Book was close to magical! The physical turning of pages. The longing while peering into Technicolor images captured using real film. The variety! It was childhood ecstasy.

I don’t remember if I ever actually received anything from that fabled catalog at Christmas. But what it did for my prepubescent imagination was alone a gift. Largely, as you might imagine, it was the toys and games that so thoroughly arrested my young attention.

But, it was also the groovy-ass clothing of the 70s. Sumptuous crushed velvets in primary colors. Out-there plaids. Whimsical florals.  
I can just see myself now, hunched over a 600-page catalog, eyes all aglow, lips fixed in a mind-blown ooh! It was a preoccupation—imagining myself climbing , crawling, spinning, pushing, pulling, embracing, wearing, and showing off the wares in the book that in my fantasies all belonged to me. This continued long after Christmas had passed and until the catalog disappeared because Mama tossed it out eventually.
These days, some 40-plus years later, we have a rather poor approximation of that, but an approximation nevertheless, with, where you can build shopping lists and even a public-facing “Wish List” of all the things your heart desires. I maintain a shopping list to remind me of more utilitarian things that I may purchase, such as toiletries and pantry staples.

As for my Amazon “Wish List”? Well, I have markedly reserved that one as a repository of products that spark imagination and that could midwife something creative in my life – toys, tools and such.

Folks who know me might be surprised to see several musical instruments on my Wish List. But I’ve always wanted to play piano — or some instrument by which I could compose.

I had wanted to become a songwriter and musician. I used to write lyrics in this old, gray notebook on which I'd plastered a bunch of those free stickers that used to come in cereal boxes. I'd wanted piano lessons, but we couldn't afford lessons let alone a piano for practice. As a consolation prize, my mother did buy me a tiny keyboard. I used to call it Bonnie. It was a Bontempi B1200. I Googled and I was able to find one, to my great surprise, on eBay. Although I didn’t actually purchase it, I find it comforting that I remembered the name of it and that it’s STILL available out there somewhere. Who knows, maybe I will go back and purchase it.

As I always say, creativity is like water seeking its own level. It will course through you, as mine has for many years, seeking itself; and I don’t think it ever dies. My goal is to help it multiply, using love, imagination, passion and any new tools at hand. And, fond memories of old ones.


  • Cynthia

    Love the pictures. Where did you ever find them? Don’t tell me kept an old catalog!

  • Lydia Hall

    I loved the Sears catalogue. Lots of good memories.

  • Raynelda

    I can remember this oh so well! We would go through that book over and over again, as if something would change. Looking at everything over and over again, as if it was the very first time. You would wait in anticipation for the book when the season came around. I was just talking to my aunt about things like this-what many of us know as “the good ole days”. This has nothing to do with the Sears Christmas catalog; but during that conversation, we also talked about the S&H stamps and books.

  • Janis

    Oh man! I remember going through the catalog and folding down the corners of the pages so my parents would know exactly what I wanted! While I rarely got why I wished for, I have really never forgotten the joy of searching and wishing with the Sears Christmas catalog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published