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Retro Christmas Memories: Reclaimed!

Merry Christmas, RetroDazers! Recently my older sister took on the task of organizing my Mom’s boxes and boxes of photos from over the years. In the process she uncovered several Christmas photos I had never seen before, holiday moments I thought were lost to time. With these precious memories being returned to me, I couldn’t think of anywhere else they would be more appreciated. So throw a Bing Crosby Christmas record on the turntable, grab a handful of tinsel and start spraying the tree with noxious faux-snow spray because it’s time for Retro Christmas Memories: Reclaimed!

This first pic from 1982 is my earliest Christmas caught on film. At 7 months old I had no concept of Christmas, but with my dear old Grandma J behind me, all was right with the world. You can see some felt wise men puppets and cute little “Snow-People Couple” on the table, along with an old school glass bottle of Planters Peanuts, which was definitely my Dad’s contribution to the holiday cuisine. I’m actually surprised his bowl of hard-shell nuts and silver nutcracker tools weren’t out on the same table in this scene.

But the main attraction here is that little piano I’m crawling on. In the years to come this became known as my “Schroeder Piano”, named after the character from the Peanuts comic strip. Looking at this now, it may have been my oldest toy and I used to plink away on that thing for hours. Eventually my Mom donated it when I was in college and it broke my heart because I had hoped to give it to my own kids someday. At least I now have this photo to remember it by.

Jumping ahead a few years to 1985, here I am with my sister opening up a Mr. T action figure while wearing my Transformers pajama top. I have no idea what that black rectangle is that I’m holding up or why it has me so mesmerized. I wouldn’t catch up with the A-Team until reruns years later, so I’m certain the Ruby-Spears cartoon series featuring the T-Team was my point of reference for this 80’s icon. Still, seeing my sister holding a Mr. T figure while dressed in her preppy sweater vest is exactly what the hazy memories of my early years “feel” like.

A long time ago on the site I did an article about my ViewMaster ShowBeam, which I still have to this day. But here is the Christmas 1985 origin of that mighty projector, which covered the walls of my childhood home with light images of the Super Friends, Pink Panther and more cartoon favorites. Plus, if you look to the left you’ll see already opened gifts like a GoBots toy, a Mr. T coloring book and the barely visible cover of an Ewoks Book and Tape storybook set.

Here we are a year later in 1986, posing with my Fievel plush doll in front of the Christmas Tree while wearing my Fievel PJs. An American Tail was a big movie for me as a kid and I remember serenading my Mom with “Somewhere Out There” as a 4 year old. I eventually snipped the threads that held his hat on, making him “bald” and then the doll was lost to time a few years later. Luckily  2 years ago I found another Fievel at Goodwill in perfect condition and he has been filling me with the warm fuzzies ever since. Behind me you can also see the white plastic net for the bizarre game Pig Pong, where you squeezed air out of rubber pigs to pass a “styrofoam star” back and forth.

Moving ahead to 1987, you can see me rockin’ awesome SilverHawks pajamas while holding up Marshall Bravestarr atop his trusty steed, 30-30, all ready to use the “Speed of the Puma” arrest the evil Tex Hex. I always loved playing with the translucent red/orange Kerium crystals and hiding them in the secret opening in 30-30’s belly. Bravestarr and SilverHawks were special shows to me in that I always felt lucky when I found them while flipping channels. Saturday morning TV had a dependable schedule, but these syndicated shows sometimes got moved around to different time slots, making them more elusive.

1987 was apparently a great year to be 5 and loving Ghostbusters. Here I am showing off my Ecto-1. Now I was convinced my childhood Ecto-1 came from a garage sale based on the missing doors and scuffed up condition. But this photo proves now that I was just rough on my toys. In the next pic you can see me showing off the Ghostbusters poster that came with the Ecto-1 while sporting an “I’m over it” face. Pretty sure I wasn’t thrilled with being dressed up in Church Clothes. But wait, there’s more!

Yep, here I am with the H2Ghost toys that were stackable and could suck up water to spit out. While these Ghostbusters items are cool, the real magic is on either side of me. If you look closely, you’ll see that to my left is a gift concealed in Pound Puppies wrapping paper and in front of it, a Superman leather belt! On the right is Voltron Defender of the Universe wrapping paper! Pretty cool, right? To mark the passage of time, you can see that since 1982 our dark blue 70’s carpet had been switched out for gleaming white and our couch was re-upholstered with a purple floral print, which stayed in our house for most of the 90’s.

Last up for 1987 was this Scooter Board. I’ll be honest, as a kid who mostly preferred to stay inside and play with action figures, outdoor toys weren’t high on my priority list. I only ever asked for them to fit in with the neighborhood kids. If I know me (and I do), my neighbor friend Kelly had one and I wanted to be cool. But just like the skateboard I asked for the next year, I bet that thing got 2 rides max from me before sitting in the backyard to rust.

This final picture takes us into the 90’s, I’m going to guess 1992, as my collecting and reading hobby started in 1991. I have zero recollection of ever owning this t-shirt, which is odd because of that iconic Captain America vs Wolverine image by Mike Zeck from the cover of Captain America Annual #8. But if you look carefully you’ll also notice that laying down on the couch is one of the snow people decorations from the first picture in 1982. 10 years later, they were still going strong.

So there we go, a nice batch of Retro Christmas Memories: Reclaimed! Given the number of photos my sister continues to uncover, I have a feeling next year I’ll be able to share a whole new batch of these things. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Retro New Year!

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onipar Posted on Jan 15, 2022 at 04:17 PM

Wow, great stuff here! You know, it's funny, but I also dug out my old photos this Christmas to look through. What's awesome about your pictures if that your parents actually had you pose with the gifts. Unfortunately, even though I have TONS of pictures from Christmases past, very few actually show the presents. They're always of right before the presents were opened, or completely obscuring what the presents were. Oh well, awesome article!

OldSchool80s Posted on Jan 08, 2022 at 03:33 PM

This is so awesome, Adam! Such great memories. I have been doing just 1 picture at a time the last 2 years over on TRN, but this is cool seeing a bunch over several years. I always love nostalgia, but I love Christmas nostalgia probably the best. By the way, I am a little older than you, but I believe I received that same Mr. T figure that year (and I still have it). Thanks for sharing!

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