Out of the Package: Wave 9 – The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

– by Joe Gardner –

‘Twas a week (or so) before Christmas, and what could be heard? The tap, tap, tap on the keyboard, by this goofy nerd.

Season’s Greetings! Christmas is rapidly approaching and as is usual this time of year, I get a bit reflective and nostalgic. I grew up in church, and still attend occasionally, so there’s the religious aspect of the holiday. And despite my drastically changed views, this still holds meaning for me. There are the memories of gathering with family. With my grandparents, none of whom are with us anymore. Eating, laughing, watching Christmas programs and sports, and of course the gifts. But mostly I remember the toys!

I was born in 1974, so my childhood and early teen years were spent in the Golden Age of Toys. (I promise I’m still working on my love letter to the 80’s column. Remember that procrastination thing I mentioned in my first column?) Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Transformers, He-Man, Thundercats, M.A.S.K., and so many more. My main fandoms during this time were Star Wars and G.I. Joe, and frequently some Transformers. I remember my brother Tom being big into He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. And I seem to recall my youngest brother, Jim, being a M.A.S.K. guy. They may correct my memory when they read this, but that’s how I remember it. I know all three of us had some Thundercats. Our cousin, Michael, very much like a brother to us, was the biggest Transformers nut I’ve ever known. He had them all! (It seemed like it!) Good times, good times.

As a kid, Christmas season truly began when the big Wishbook catalogs from JC Penney and Sears would arrive. My brothers and I would attack those things with pen and paper in hand. Marking each desired item, as well as writing a list. Santa would know exactly what we wanted! I would regularly go back to those catalogs and daydream about what may come. Not unlike Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story. I may have mentioned my desired items as frequently as Ralphie, as well.

Nowadays, I’ve come full circle. The only difference is that the toys I ask for are a little more expensive. And as much as I love the exchanging of gifts, I know it’s about so much more. The time with your loved ones is so precious. No number of presents will replace being able to see someone no longer with us. The final gift I received from my maternal grandparents is still hanging in the closet downstairs. And that worn out flannel will remain there, except when being worn, until it literally falls apart. I know not everyone get the warm feelings I get this time of year. Not everyone has the same fond memories that I have. Be it bad experiences or too many lost loved ones. I get that. I won’t bemoan anyone celebrating, or not, in their own way. I will still wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Hold your loved ones close, tell them they are loved, and enjoy the season as you see fit.

One last thing . . .

Guess what? I started a Twitter handle for the column, @OutOfThePackage. I mostly share more stuff that catches my attention, but hey, it’s fun. And I’ve had quite a bit of interaction with some of the collectible creators I cover here in the column, especially Mezco and Quantum Mechanix. Go give me a follow!

Well, you know the drill. Until next time, you’ll find me in the toy aisle.

Joe Gardner is a geek. ‘Nuff said. Maybe a couple more tidbits? M’kay: his hair growth rivals Wolverine’s. Oh, and he has quite the mancrush on Aquaman.

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