Christmases Past and Memorable Presents

Every year during this time I go through the Christmas family dance. This is not a dance that I enjoy very much. As anyone who knows me knows, I have no great love for any dancing, but this one in particular.

The Christmas family dance is a series of phone calls between my mother and father, who have been divorced since I can remember and who try and outsmart each other into figuring out what day they should expect to see my brother and me—on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve. Or maybe both.

In the old days, the combination of the Christmas Eve dinner and sleepover was considered the parental coup. One parent would get us at night and the next morning, and as long as the presents we got were awesome, my brother and I would want to stay a little bit longer. If there were bad presents, we couldn’t wait to leave to go to the other house.

Now that I’m 30 and my brother is 29, the dance has changed. Now it’s just a series of phone calls, hellos, “thanks for the sweater, you’re welcome for the wine, this is some really great chicken, work is fine, things are good, yes that’s a great movie, I know it’s just terrible what the news reported last week, yes it’s so amazing how when you were a kid America was such a different place, yes I remember that present you got me when I was 10, no I can’t fix your computer right now, yes I still have a dog and it’s great, sorry we have to go, we are gonna go here now to say hi, yes that’s still my email address, yes your ex-husband/wife is doing fine, yes I think I’ll probably go somewhere on vacation this year, yes the vacation last year I went on was fun. Okay, nice to see you. Merry Christmas.”

I can easily remember the best Christmas presents of my youth. For kids these days, it’s all about the iPad, it seems, but for me it was all about Sega Genesis and Game Gear.

I think I passed out from screaming so loud when I opened up my Christmas present at 10 years old to find Game Gear in the box. It was a hand console that played video games IN COLOR!!! Today, every game ever invented on this device can be played on my iPhone for free. But back then it was just so damned glorious.

The other present I remember freaking out about was Tyco’s Typhoon, which is a remote-controlled hovercraft. Let me tell ya, advertising works. I can remember watching the Typhoon commercial and thinking this remote-controlled piece of crap was the solution to everything in my life. I wish I felt like this about something today (other than money).

I hate to say it, but the Talkboy, which was essentially a tape recorder marketed to kids, was BY FAR the coolest gift I ever received that fell into the “You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me That Shouldn’t Be a Toy” category. But Home Alone made that device a must for any kid who was planning on being stuck at home and attacked by home invaders. Now that I think about it, the premise for Home Alone is absolutely terrifying.

I miss being a ’90s kid.

Read Dan’s DailyDavid Rattiner’s daily blog at

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