The Christmas season is upon us, and so is shopping for that perfect gift for your loved ones. Nowadays, if you have little ones, chances are they are emailing letters to Santa. And they are probably emailing their lists, complete with photos to you on your smart phone.

The Christmas season is upon us, and so is shopping for that perfect gift for your loved ones. Nowadays, if you have little ones, chances are they are emailing letters to Santa. And they are probably emailing their lists, complete with photos to you on your smart phone.

These days, Santa Claus has a Facebook page or two and is accessible through Twitter year round, where he has 82.4 million followers. This week, the students of Ballinger and Winters elementary schools have submitted their wish lists in the form of Letters to Santa which is an extra special section included in the Register this week!

But just a few years ago, parents and Santa still received only hand-written Christmas wish lists. Kids had to hint for months before Christmas as to what they were hoping to find under the tree.

Back when my girls were little, we always wrote letters to Santa, which I promptly shared with all of the grandparents and we proceeded accordingly. As my girls grew up, the hints came in different ways, such as a picture of an item saved on my computer or a link sent via email. One year they texted me, “Mom, I need a laptop.” Now kids post what they like on Facebook or Pinterest, where you can click on the item and be prompted to the place to put in your credit card number. How easy is that?

When I was a kid, we had to work for our Christmas wish list. We tried to be subtle and sneakily started early giving hints to the parents. I mean really early, like just after the fall catalogs came in the mail. This was just in case they actually considered getting us something unique, besides clothes, socks and the latest Barbie extravaganza.

That takes me back to the Christmas of 1971, when I was in the sixth grade. I started early for sure because I wanted something big — a stereo. So, that fall, I started conveniently leaving the Sears catalog open on the stereo pages. As I recall, I wasn’t asking for anything too fancy, just something like a Close ‘N Play so I could play my 45s. So, I would conveniently leave the catalog open on my mom’s side of the bed or next to my dad’s recliner, with the pages dog-eared and arrows pointing to my dream hi-fi. Now mind you, I was 11, so I circled several stereo models with detached speakers and a turntable, and even, one with an 8-track player, but if Santa saw fit to bring me the Close ‘N Play, I would’ve been elated.

Sometimes my dad would call me to the recliner for the list discussion — which always got my hopes up.

“So you want a record player, do you?” he would say. “And you think you deserve this because …?”

“I have been good, Daddy and I only want that one with the turntable in the middle with speakers on the side (the Close ‘N Play),” I explained, offering to get him a glass of tea and piece of cake and rake the leaves in the front yard.

As I rushed off to wait on him, I could feel his sheepish smile behind me. It felt like he was up to something. But I was going to err on the side of caution and be a good kid. Yes, that is what I would do.

And so that fall I hopped, skipped and did everything I could to deserve that record player. And you know what? It paid off, but my parents kept me in suspense until Christmas morning.

As it turned out, my father’s diabolically wonderful plan trumped anything I could have ever dreamed of at the time. Little did I know, he had been shopping for a stereo for quite some time, looking everywhere for the best bargain. Those were the days before hi-fi stores and electronic shops, so things like stereos and radios were purchased at places like Radio Shack, the television stores or of all places drug stores.

My dad loved a good deal — and he ran into a few during his life. That stereo was one of them. That year, his good friend Ken Benson and his father were liquidating the merchandise at the Medicine Shoppe — a downtown drug store. Some of the items on sale were — you guessed it — stereos. But not just any stereos — they were Sony stereos. And he got a deal on the Sony — which had a turntable, 8-track and two detached speakers with black and white fabric on the front.

And at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning, when my sister and I sneaked out to the tree to get an early glimpse of what was there, I tripped over the speakers and when I turned on the light, I think I squealed so loud I woke up the neighborhood. Can you say ecstatic? That I was, it was indeed the best Christmas of my life, especially since this Sony was the exact same model that Mary Richards had in her apartment on the “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

So maybe in this age of instant gratification we should make the kiddos wish a little longer and harder.

That year, the hints and the hard work paid off and we rejoiced as we played the first 8-track of Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World.”

“Joy to the world,

all the boys and girls,

Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea,

Joy to you and me…”

Thanks, mom and dad …

And Merry Christmas to everyone!

Celinda Hawkins is the managing editor of the Runnels County Register and a regular contributor to the Brownwood Bulletin. You can contact her at 432-349-2736 or via email at chawkins@gatehousemedia.com.