My kids are old enough now that Christmas is a really big deal in our house. They plan for, and look forward to, Christmas morning with a rare enthusiasm. When the day finally arrives they are so excited for everything. From the pancakes for breakfast, our traditional pork road lunch and of course the presents; they savor every moment.

Experiencing the holiday with them, and their excitement over their new video games and art supplies, books and Legos reminded me of some of my favorite presents when I was a kid. Two Christmases in particular stick out.

The first was when I got my own real stereo. It was big, that was important back in the day. It had detached speakers, AM and FM radio, two cassette decks and a turntable. I was in mixtape heaven Before this, I had been getting buy with a little single deck radio. Now I was able to be the master of all music in my room.

It was very similar to the on in the video below.

I also got my first two records that were all my own. A Monkees greatest hits album and the Miami Vice soundtrack album (both of which I still have). I dug through my parents record collection and borrowed their copies of Thriller and Steve Miller Band Live and prepared for the ultimate bedroom dance party.

I had that stereo well into the 21st Century. I wore it out to the point that when I had to throw it away it didn't have the original speakers and only the radio still worked.

The second Christmas gift that stick out was the year I got my Robotix set. Robotix was a robot construction toy. It was like Lego in that you would use various pieces to build vehicles and things. But, there were also these little motors that you could use to make your creations move. This was the most exciting thing in the history of things. It was like Transformers that were alive!

For something that I loved and treasured for so long, I built with them for years after that Christmas, I have no idea what happened to them. My best guess is that they were lost in a move during my late teens. Or they were a victim one of the post-high school purges I undertook. When your whole life needs to fit into a 1990 Geo Metro, you learn to make some hard choices.

Of all the toys and stuff I had as a kid that Robotix set is the one that I'd like to have back. That and our original NES.


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