Ode to the Sears Catalog : Losses of the Digital Age
I love the digital age. There’s not a day goes by that I’m not grateful to be alive during the 21st century. We literally have the world at our fingertips, with any information we need just a click away. But there are rare occasions when I realize some things have been lost in our computerized world. One of those is the Sears catalog.
In the 80’s and 90’s, like many households, we received our catalog in the mail at least once a year. It was overflowing with goodies for adults and children alike. But as a kid, one of the great joys of the holiday season was grabbing a pen, finding a quiet spot and sitting down with that thick tome of wonder as we slowly turned each page, methodically circling the things we wanted Santa to bring. Though we never got everything we circled, (because we circled everything) there was excitement, anticipation and hope. The activity itself was the pleasure.
That tradition carried on with my own children and one year I snapped a photo of all of them lying on the floor with the catalog in the middle, as our oldest, Charles, turned the pages.
Time went by, progress was made. We were so busy with our noses in our gadgets we hardly noticed, but the catalogs stopped coming. A small bit of magic was gone.
I readily admit I can now quickly find online everything Sears and any other store sells, including digital catalogs where I can virtually turn pages. And let’s not forget the many trees that are spared from not printing those huge volumes. And yes, it’s basically corporate America trying to sell us their latest and greatest stuff. But that tangible catalog was more than those things. It was tradition entwined with promise and delight. And despite all those valid points, I still feel a tiny ache inside at this little slice of my past that’s gone and all the kids won’t get to experience it.
Luckily Christmas, in and of itself, has a special enchantment and there’s a never ending variety of ways to create those same feelings that children seem to specialize in. I just felt like I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge this small simple pleasure of my past and offer thanks. So here’s to the Sears catalog. Though your purpose was financial, you nonetheless brought joy, hope and a smile to millions of kids over the decades and that’s quite an accomplishment. Gone but not forgotten. At least in the heart of this 57 year old kid.