The Sears Christmas Wishbook

December 7, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Keith Schell

As with many of us in our youth, the Sears Company hugely influenced our family life as consumers. When I was young, I think there was a Sears mail-order outlet store on every Main Street in every small town in Canada. We certainly had one in our town. Our family usually had the most current and up-to-date seasonal Sears catalogues in our home and could phone the Sears outlet store in town to place an order for whatever we needed at our convenience. 

But for all us kids back then, the king of all catalogues was the Sears Christmas Wishbook.   

It was always a huge deal in our house when it came. The second it came through our door, there was usually a fight to see which kid could look at it first! Mom had to be referee and tried to be as fair as possible, allocating a certain amount of time each day with it to each of us three boys. 

And what a catalogue it was! Back then the toy section of the Wishbook had pages and pages of the coolest toys, games, and other kid-friendly stuff of the day that you actually had to physically play with, not just sit on the couch and twiddle your fingers at. 

When it came time to select the toys in the catalogue we wanted from Santa, we were lucky. Our parents said we could each ask for one big thing or three little things. If there was any doubt if something was big or little, it would be decided by our parents. I remember sitting with the Wishbook and making a huge list every year and slowly whittling it down one by one, until I finally achieved my one big thing or my three little things. We made our lists, gave a copy to our parents for their approval, and then wrote to Santa.

I was always so excited on Christmas Eve. I always had trouble going to sleep that night and didn’t want to go to bed. And I was always up super early on Christmas morning to see what I got! 

And when we finally started opening presents after the eternity of breakfast, most of the toys we got back then came from the Sears Christmas Wishbook. It’s amazing how much joy came to our house and so many other homes in the country on Christmas morning from that one particular catalogue. Sears was responsible for many happy Christmas memories in many homes for many years.  

But gradually, consumer tastes and attitudes began to change. And with that, the fortunes of Sears started changing for the worse. Sears started losing market share, and the Christmas Wishbook started getting thinner and thinner every year. The entire Sears empire eventually became no more, declaring bankruptcy in 2019. 

Personally, I think that no longer having the Sears Christmas Wishbook is a significant loss of part of the Christmas experience for children everywhere, but I guess today’s kids won’t miss what they never had. The e-commerce retailers have taken the place of the Christmas Wishbook, and ‘leafing through the pages’ has been replaced with ‘swipe left’ on everyone’s hand-held devices and ‘making a list’ has been replaced with ‘add to cart’. These are the memories that our children are building to tell their own kids about down the road. But to me, it’s just not the same, and it never will be. 

Christmas is the most special of times, and if you have young children, cherish these times at Christmas, for these are the special times you will never get back. 

And if you have Grandkids who visit you at Christmas, cherish them, for through them you get to re-live the joy of Christmas through the eyes of a child one more time. 

And a special thanks to the Sears Christmas Wishbook, now gone to the ages, for providing countless happy yuletide memories in millions of lives of people from our generation and older.    

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