Talk of the South

Readers Recall Their Most Memorable Childhood Gifts

Bicycles, dolls, hand-made presents, and more that made the holidays special

Photo: VK Studio / Adobe Stock

In a recent Talk of the South newsletter, we asked readers, “What’s the most memorable holiday present you received as a kid?” Here are a few of the many responses:

I got a Singer Tiny Tailor sewing machine from my mother. I used it until it wore out. It will always be my favorite gift ever. —Michele S.

A Polaroid camera. Opened up a whole new world. —Glenda V.

Mini bike. I was eleven years old. I was given every excuse why I should not have one and did not expect to see it that morning. After presents were opened, I was still sitting on it and barely pulled on the starting cord. It cranked up and we could not figure out how to turn it off. I thought my mother would be mad, but a smug “I told you so” look she gave everyone was all she could muster. —Tony T.

Four kids and each year, one got a big gift. Mine in the seventh grade was a Guild 3/4 size guitar that I still play today, fifty seven years later. —Mary Edna F.

My grandpa gave me a real (wooden) bow, and half a dozen real (wooden) arrows for my eighth Christmas. He told me a friend on the Micmac Indian Reserve had made it to measurements my grandpa gave him. My sons also learned to shoot a bow and arrow with it. —Charles R.

It was a Chatty Cathy doll… then I saw the Twilight Zone episode “Talky Tina,” and I was so freaked out I never wanted a talking doll again! I also remember the year we all got bicycles: We rushed into the room, knocked them down like dominos, and the last one’s handlebar went right through the TV screen. —Rhonda F.

My mom made me a nightgown that was pink. In her handwriting she wrote “sweet dreams” on the neckline, which she then embroidered. Priceless! Over sixty years ago. —Claudia W.

Mine were red leather booties from my older brother. He knew I admired them, and my parents couldn’t afford them. He’s still my favorite brother. —Terrill M.

An Erector Set. Mom thought I was excited when I saw a completed, working Ferris wheel project. I was not. —Otto V.

Mine was back in the early fifties when my soon-to-be stepfather gave me a “chemistry” set. You could actually blow things up. What was he thinking? —Bob R. 

Easy-Bake Oven. I made cakes and cakes and more cakes. —Terrie P.

My first pony, Little Joe. He was tied to the apple tree on a particularly unusual snowy Christmas with a big red bow on his halter, eating a bunch of hay. Nothing else mattered that day! —Chris N. 

My Lionel Electric Train Set. Still have it sixty years later. —Mark S.

On Christmas morning when I was a little girl, I opened a gift from my grandmother.  It was a Rudolph nightgown with a big red googly nose on it. Then I opened a gift from my other grandmother, and it was the matching robe. I was so excited, and of course thought my mother had told them what to buy. As it turned out, it was a coincidence that they bought matching gifts. They lived in different states, and this was way before the Internet! —Tracey R.

A Little Miss Revlon doll, a 1958 precursor of Barbie. The memorable part was an entire wardrobe, handmade by my mother, who had a ball creating the outfits. —Cathy S.

When I was in the third grade, my folks scheduled my tonsillectomy to coincide with my Christmas holidays. The pièce de résistance was that they got me a bicycle for Christmas. So there I was, not able to go outside because of my surgery, staring at my new Huffy. Memorable. —Jack C.

I received a baby piano complete with a little stool when I was probably around six years old. It was shiny black and had a royal blue border of velvet along the keys. Although I never was able to play, I remember how the velvet felt on your fingers. I sat there for hours. —Lynn W.

A blue two-wheeled Schwinn bike with streamers at the working end of the handlebars. I immediately installed the muffler: a playing card held in place with a clothespin, mounted to the rear frame, perfectly striking the spokes. I can still hear that sound. —Jere B.

Flexy Racer. It is a sled on wheels. Growing up in Georgia, we didn’t get a lot of snow. My sister and I had so much fun with it in the 1970s, and then my sons loved it too in the 2000s. —Vickie F.

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