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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM CHARLIE COCHET!
All I want for Christmas is my Two Bottom Teeth
Yep, I was missing my two bottom teeth that Christmas. Also, why does my sweater say ‘jogging’? Do kids jog? And why is the rest of the picture in black and white? Welcome to Christmas in the 1980s! I was born two years shy of 1980, so that means I grew up in the age of cheesy– yet awesome music, and not so awesome fashion. I didn’t get to have that whole teenager in the 80s experience like my cousin who studied art, and had her bedroom wall plastered with magazine images of big-haired rock musicians. She was the one who taught me to draw, introduced me to Madonna and Bon Jovi, and was like the coolest teenager I had ever known.
My world was filled with cartoons, and toys. It was all about the toys, especially at Christmas. We had some pretty cool–and bizarre, toys in the 80s. Chances were, if there was a cartoon about it, there were toys. It was a time when I was up at 6:30 A.M. on a Saturday morning. These days, you couldn’t drag me out of bed that early on a Saturday for love nor money. Not unless you’re ready to have some serious bodily harm inflicted upon you. Personally, I thought the toys back then were much more fun. Most of us 80s kids remember the big names: Care Bears, She-Ra, He-Man, Rainbow Bright, Jem, G.I. Joe, and so on. But what about Sweet Secrets? Anyone have one of them?
At first glance they may give the appearance of being a regular jewel you clip onto your belt, but oh, ye of little faith. When you open the jewel, *gasp* there’s a doll inside! I had loads of these. It’s incredible how long a child remained enthralled by just opening and closing that little jewel case, and turning out all the pieces of the doll. I actually did own this cat. And there was a pink pony who was cleverly concealed inside a star. Thinking back on it, there were a whole lot of toys containing secret compartments. I had a pink snail whose shell unlocked with a special key, and you could hide things in there. Were toy companies trying to turn us into secret spies?
Don’t know how to tell that cute boy next door what you think of him? Well let Poochie tell him for you! I did have my own Poochie everything, but I admit, I never used it to express myself to boys, because at that age, well, boys were icky. They’d steal your Barbie, make her the captive of some nefarious villain where her choices were usually wait to be saved by He-Man, or plunge to her death. Third option was get pissed off, knock over the tower, and rescue Barbie yourself. Or was that just me?
Okay, so back to some more embarrassing Christmas photos. During the 80s, I spent three long years in a Catholic school. I don’t know whose bright idea that was, but it soon became clear to my dad, it wasn’t going to work out. Mostly because I spent a good deal of my time terrified. I don’t know, there was just something about having religious imagery looming over you at every turn that creeped me out, and at six years old, I didn’t understand what was going on half the time. I just knew I didn’t like it. As for my dad, I think it was the having to chop off my long hair because some kid gave loads of other kids lice that did it.
Obviously during Christmas time, the school put on carol singing, and plays. One year I got to be an angel, and another year, I’m not sure what I was. A maiden I think, judging by the flowers in my hair. I guess my angel privileges had been revoked. Knowing me, I probably said something I shouldn’t have. That would be me there kneeling behind Mary eyeing Shepard number three, who I think is eyeing me back. Either we’re all waiting for something, or no one knows what to do next!
I also had a ridiculous amount of Christmas sweaters. I couldn’t find any truly hideous ones, but I found this one. It was one of my favorites out of all of them. Frolicking cats in the snow. Oh, and it’s black. Very Christmassy.
Remember all those sweatshirts with the puffy-plastic-foamy images? This is one of them. I can’t imagine it was very flame retardant. Why yes, the neon-colored bow on my head is made of shoelaces. Oh, and the sweaters always came with matching sweatpants, because it was all about the set you know. I had a yellow set, pink, blue, baby blue, orange, red, and who knows what else. I was lucky my mom only made me wear dresses on special occasions. When I was little, I was always dressed in pants, or shorts. Mostly I think because I was a very active kid. I liked to run around, climb stuff, ride my bike, be outdoors, and a dress or skirt just wouldn’t do. Also I hated wearing them, and would fight my mom tooth and nail not to wear one. My mom would then have to spend the rest of the evening telling me to sit straight.
Christmas in our family usually consisted of big get togethers on Christmas eve, because I come from a tradition that tended to celebrate the 24th more than the 25th, but when my parents migrated to the U.S. in 1980, they quickly fused their Cuban culture with the American one. So instead of our presents being delivered by the three wise men, as my folks grew up with, they were delivered by Santa. We would leave chocolate chip cookies and milk out for him, and on Christmas Day they would be gone! It became our new tradition to celebrate the 24th Cuban style, and the 25th American style. The 24th was party night. Huge table with roast pig, rice & beans, salads, desserts, all kinds of drinks and side dishes. The adults would have wine, and beer, and chat while the kids shook their wrapped toys trying to figure out what they got. At midnight, we would open presents from the extended family, so they could see our big smiles when we unleashed those knitted mittens with glee, and the next day was always the best. No socks, no sweaters, because you know mom & dad told Santa exactly what you wanted.
I realize now how much effort my parents put into Christmas for me and my brother. I mean we didn’t necessarily write letters to Santa. It was more of pointing to the TV during a commercial and bouncing up and down while screaming, ‘Can I have that for Christmas!’ in Spanish, and my poor parents who spoke very little English at the time either having to memorise the images so they could then explain it to the fellow at Toys R’ Us, or quickly jotting down as many of the letters in the name as quickly as possible. When you’re a kid, it’s all about the toys. When you’re grown up, it’s all about family, friends, and celebrating who you are. At least for me it is. Thinking back, I can appreciate what I had, especially since Christmas would have been a whole other ballgame had my parents not fled their homeland when they had. So to me, Christmas is about appreciating what I have, why I have it, and enjoying it. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other festive holiday this season, I wish you all the best!
What’s your fondest holiday memory?
Charlie Cochet is a passionate author of M/M Historical Romance who loves to get lost in eras long gone, especially the Roaring Twenties and Dirty Thirties. From Prohibition agents to hardboiled detectives, speakeasies to swanky nightclubs, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!
When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers. Find out more about Charlie and her writing on her website: www.charliecochet.com, or visit her blog: www.charliecochet.blogspot.com
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