A Horn, A Drum, And A Gun
By Ed Crumley
In the early years of my life, at least the ones I can remember, I wanted the same three things every Christmas: a horn, a drum, and a gun. Not sure why. We were in the midst of World War II, so at least the gun could’ve had something to do with the war. Maybe I wanted the musical instruments to make my war games sound more dramatic. Or, perhaps I could blame Roy Rogers, our musical cowboy hero, who always got the bad guys with his nickel-plated revolvers blazing.
During those times you couldn’t buy many toys, so Dad made Christmas presents for us. He got out his tools and built things out of wood. Big things like a rocking boat or a rocking horse complete with mane, bridal, and saddle. Those were fine secondary gifts as long as the three required items mentioned above also came in Santa’s bag.
In later years, our Christmas present requests migrated more toward clothes. My brother and I both had to have SMU football jerseys with the number 37, the number of our local hero, Doak Walker. I don’t know why Ken couldn’t have had some lesser player’s number instead. In junior high, my gift request reflected fashion. There was a cool kid at school who was the original Fonz. I had to have the same jacket and scarf that he wore. Funny, but when I put them on, I didn’t look like The Fonz.
In adulthood, I found that I enjoyed shopping for toys for my kids for Christmas, but my biggest joy came from being creative and getting something for my wife that she didn’t expect, like a blue fox fur coat, or a new computer.
But, as some of you know, the zenith of joyous giving arrives only for a grandparent. Emeline was a special gift from God, having been conceived and brought into the world with great difficulty and expense. The crazy thing is, the more we think we might be spoiling her, the more of a little servant’s heart she displays. Don’t get me wrong, Emmy likes her stuff, but she is the first one to think of little ways to make those around her more comfortable and sometimes even offers them gifts of her own things.
Just as I had my favorite toys, Emeline has hers. You may not be aware of the American Girl Doll phenomena, but trust me; it’s the latest toy industry giant catering to young ladies. A couple of months ago, Granddaughter and I paid a visit to the American Girl store, yes—store! I was astonished that an entire store was dedicated to the pampering care of basic little girl dolls which are transformed and individualized by their many nationalities, hair styles, and clothing choices. It features a complete beauty shop and “Bistro” for luncheon with your doll. Each doll has its own personal story such as, “Rachel,” whose grandparents escaped the Holocaust, or, “Molly,” who grew up in colonial America. While your doll is getting her hair done, you may browse the store for those extra outfits she may need or visit the Bistro. If your doll is being beautified while you are lunching, never fear, and the maitre d’ will produce one to join you, complete with her tiny chair which hooks onto the table side.
We quickly learned that the lowest priced item in the store was twenty-five dollars. A grandmother on her way out leaned over and whispered, “I’d like to know what the take is at the end of the day in here.” I laughed nervously while thinking about what I had already spent, then thought, what’s a grandfather‘s money for anyway?
As we squeezed out of the crowded store and headed to the car, I thought about how far children’s gifts had evolved from a “horn, a drum, and a gun.” All these people spending twenty-five dollars a pop . . . and it wasn’t even Christmas!