Hat on Top, Coat Below


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Not My Childhood Wish Books

December 6, 2022

The holiday catalogs have been piling up; one more arrived today from L.L. Bean with a Christmas tree and a dreidl and other winter/holiday icons on the cover interspersed with the clothing they’re known for. I think that’s cutting it a little close to get an order in for Christmas, but then again I came of age before online shopping was a thing, and one needed to allow at least a month to get things through the mail, if not six weeks. I remember in college, flush with what seemed like riches from my pay as an intern at a Big Eight accounting firm (yeah, there were eight then, not the four there are now), sending a check and a paper order form off in the mail to Speigel (they’re gone now, too, though according to Wikipedia lasted until 2019 which was longer than I thought), only to some weeks later get a check back from them because the things I’d wanted were sold out. It was a different time.

Messy pile of catalogs on the seat of a blue and tan striped chair


Most of the stack of catalogs I need to go through are ones I get other times of the year. Many I’ve never ordered from but keep getting, probably because the companies bought an address list of homeowners at ski resorts and think I’m like my richer neighbors with their bigger, newer, fancier houses and no qualms about spending $3000 plus shipping for a life-size Santa figure to grace my entryway or $6000 for a pool table. Bless your hearts, Frontgate and Grandinroad, but I’m using my grandfather’s card table as a desk, so I’m not your kind of people.

The other kind of rich people catalogs I get are clothing ones, usually but not always with an outdoorsy feel. Given that I’ve had my ski coat for nearly a decade and am typing this wearing a t-shirt dated 1996 on the front that I took from my mom’s stuff and sweatpants that were bought for my father-in-law, I am definitely not the target market there either.

The food catalogs tend to be holiday-only. There’s Harry & David, whom I bought a fruit of the month club from for my mom years ago. The Wisconsin Cheeseman and The Swiss Colony are new this year, courtesy of us changing Joan’s address to our house after she passed. We’ve also gotten a couple of catalogs filled with gifts for grandchildren for the same reason.

Then there are what I think of as “mature woman clothes”. Draper’s & Damon’s was one of Joan’s favorites. I bought a dress from them to wear to her memorial service. My mom’s favorite was Soft Surroundings, and I’ve gotten a couple colorful sweaters from them that I wear when I want to dress up a bit from my usual tees and jeans.

Having been through the stack in order to write this post, I’m finding I can move almost all of them to the recycling bin, keeping just a few to flip through later. Some have sentimental value, like a couple of gift catalogs I bought my mom things from back in the day, so I’ll flip through those and remember good times before I recycle them. Some I might actually buy something from someday, though it’s hard to think of anything I really need right now.


On this date in 2021: Lunch and Window Shopping
2020: Thanksgiving Feast for Two
2019: Lost and Not Found
2018: A Slice of Urban Life
2017: When All Else Fails, Kittens
2016: Mo’ Driving
2015: And Then There Was the Rest of November
2014 and 2013: No entries
2012: Does Inspiration Have an Expiration Date?
2011: It’s That Time of Year
2010: Holidailies Redux
2009: No entry
2008: Crafty Doldrums
2007: No entry
2006: Amazing but True
2005: Sounds of the Season
2004: No entry
2003: Piling Off
2002: No entry

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  1. Theresa (Nebulopathy) Says:

    After twice getting a 300 page monstrosity (from a retailer whose name I can’t remember now), I finally went through and unsubscribed myself from all of them. Now I get just enough catalogs to have something to line the cockatiel’s cage and no more, which is perfect!

  2. Mel Says:

    My mother’s been gone for, what, 15 years now (wow), and we still get the occasional piece of mail for her.

  3. John S Says:

    Growing up it was exclusively the Sears catalog and JC Penny. At some point in my childhood mom got really into Land’s End, but I wasn’t obsessively circling items and dog-earring pages in their catalog.

    Although we don’t get those high end catalogs, like you pretty much all the ones we do get go right to the trash. So it goes.

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