Christmas Toys

There are doubtless many parents who exhaust their creativity at this time of year deciding what they’ll get their children for Christmas presents. Not being an authority on children I haven’t any recommendations though I know enough not to suggest dollar bills in an envelope. The eagerness of seeing a gift under the tree and unwrapping it on Christmas morning is integral to the escapade.

When I was a child, Christmas morning filled me and my sister with such anticipation that we regularly rose very early from our respective lairs and gathered atop the stairs to commence our muted descent together to the drawing room where stood the Christmas tree beneath which we thrilled to see what Santa had brought us. One gift in particular stands out.  It was a snub-nosed wind-up race car. I grasped the car gingerly and hurriedly withdrew to the kitchen where the floor was uncontaminated by carpet.  I knelt upon the floor, wound up the toy then watched it speed ’round about the kitchen. Again and again. Each of the performances was a success. The internal mechanism of the car was superb.  I believe it was “Made in Germany”, one of my earliest introductions to the value of quality.

Many years later when I had far surpassed childhood, I remember my mother’s obvious disappointment as she winced while watching me open a gift from her.  It was a copper wall hanging to be used to deposit one’s dwindled candle sticks while ascending the winding stairwell to the upper chambers in the tower.  An entire myth of course.  I ended afterwards traveling to David Brown Antiques on Rue de la Montagne, Montréal to exchange it for something more useful (a stunning walnut box for poker chips and playing cards – something I kept for years but never once used).

The subject of toys is generally not too remote no matter what the time of year. Nonetheless I find getting a toy at Christmas has an especial appeal.  If nothing else it’s something to play with between sips of eggnog and stoking the fireplace while awaiting the late afternoon festive board. Things like a fine penknife for example. Or a new watch. And I cannot begin to recite the variety of technology toys which now proliferate. Were one inclined to dismiss anything complicated there is always the possibility of an ornament such as a brooch. A brooch to the surprise of many is not entirely unfavourable to either men or women. And naturally it aligns with the decorativeness of the season. It also affords the opportunity to predict one’s own heraldic symbol as is standard among the Scots who never tire of their ineffable lineage.

Scully and Scully

Heraldry is a discipline relating to the design, display and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, rank and pedigree. Armory, the best-known branch of heraldry, concerns the design and transmission of the heraldic achievement. The achievement, or armorial bearings usually includes a coat of arms on a shield, helmet and crest, together with any accompanying devices, such as supporters, badges, heraldic banners and mottoes.

For the very young there is the common attraction of sleighs and toboggans though I personally haven’t the required gusto to participate.  Otherwise there are dolls and Teddy bears. Yet in the end all of it pales no matter what the gift or when received. What lingers instead is the recollection of what surrounds the enterprise, the glistening tree, the sparkle of the ornaments, the reflections in the bulbs. I remember lying under the tree, absently staring into the limbs past the lights and bulbs, contemplating the inexpressible tranquillity of the moment.