Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

For Me, Santa Filled His Sleigh with Socks

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

For Me, Santa Filled His Sleigh with Socks

Article excerpt

I had fun compiling my list of "100 Years of Toys," a series of memorable toys and games, listed by decade, that debuted on Monday.

The hardest part of all this was whittling down the trifles, trinkets and diversions I could include. (So many new toys are released every year, and we only had so much space to report on them.)

It was also a little odd to leave out so many of the toys that I owned, because — sniff, sniff — I didn't own very many.

Sob.

Which reminds me: When I was about 12 years old, I went to a department store, in July, and wandered over to the toy department.

A mom and dad were pushing a shopping cart down an aisle and their kid was pointing to the various toys and games on the shelves.

The kid would say, "That one! That one!" and one of the parents would pick up whatever had been pointed to and toss it into the cart.

One toy. Two toys. Three toys.

"I want that toy, too!"

"OK, son ... "

Are you kidding me?

In July?

Every Christmas, I would usually get one toy that I asked for.

One.

Then, there were some other items that my brother and I were supposed to share.

And then, of course, there was ...

Underwear!

T-shirts. Briefs. Socks.

When I was a kid, I had seen countless movies about Santa Claus. TV shows, too. I also read books about the guy. And his reindeer. And his elves.

At no point in my research did underwear come up.

I never saw those elves — or Mrs. Claus, for that matter — sewing Fruit of the Loom labels onto teeny-tiny underpants.

I never saw Santa telling his reindeer to stand still while he loaded socks and undershirts onto his sleigh.

Ditto for long johns.

When I went back to school after Christmas vacation, I had a list of made-up toys in my head.

That way, when my teacher asked what I'd gotten for Christmas, I wouldn't have to talk about my socks and long johns.

Perhaps predictably, my parents continued to give me these things well into the 1990s.

Socks and underwear, every Christmas.

And it warped me, in a way.

In 1995, when a friend of mine called to say he was in the hospital, he asked if I could stop at a store before I visited him.

"Could you pick me up some underwear?" he said.

For a moment or two, I was confused. …

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