I was recently reflecting on my most memorable Christmas at 13 years old, from a standpoint of the gifts I received, almost a half century ago now. My folks were fairly frugal and Christmas was my greatest opportunity for games/toys for the year. Mom would generally get me two or three “fun” gifts I could play with and one “practical” gift such as a clothes item I needed or a Bible as I wore them out. However, for 1972, as I asked for some games that were more expensive than normal, I only got three gifts. The practical gift was a Kansas City Chiefs toboggan as I had become a fan recently after they won the 1970 Super Bowl. The two games were “Strategy Football” and the Avalon Hill war-game “Midway”. The games related to two areas I was always interested in from my youth, military history and sports.
I had recently discovered Avalon Hill and its wargames. An iconic maker of games, its war-games were realistic/complicated strategy games of various battles of history. This was my first wargame and led to many years of getting a wargame for Christmas and being an enthusiastic wargame player. The Strategy Football game was one of the hot new games out at the time and endorsed by the National Football League. The player on offensive picked a plastic play card and placed it over the play card selected by the player on defense and that revealed several options one of which was selected by random by pulling back a bead on a spring after inserting the cards in a window. Depending on the play and as the cards were removed a clock ticked down as in a real football game. It was realistic and great fun.
Then came my birthday in early January 1973. My folks generally felt that since I just had gotten Christmas gifts I did not need much in the way of gifts for my birthday. I generally only got a small gift of some kind except for my birthday in 1973. My best friend had gotten a Fat Track race car set for Christmas and once I saw that I wanted one badly. After begging Mom and for practically the first and only time, she agreed to get me a significant fun gift for by birthday. My friend and I had endless fun playing with this car set. You actually “gassed” up the cars as they ran out of steam (actually a battery recharger) and the cars were not held in a grove like prior race car sets had but roomed free over the track which made it much more realistic.
The significant thing about these gifts is that rather than toss them aside after a couple of weeks like many Christmas gifts, I played them regularly for several years. I still have found memories about them. Along with Strat-O-Matic baseball and football, the baseball sandlot, and baseball cards I wiled away my youth.
I have fond memories of Christmas and often think back to this memorable year. Perhaps you have some special games/toys or other special memories of Christmas that remain with you. If so, let me know in the comments.