"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

wishes and dreams

They got me.

I like to consider myself a cynical, realistic consumer whose eyes cannot be covered with wool. I mute all TV commercials, unless I want to mock them. I smugly denounce any marketing ploy that promises a utopian-like quality of life if I would only buy their overpackaged product.

A few days ago, I pulled yet another person into the recurring conversation between Spike and I. It's about the Wish Book. You remember the Wish Book, don't you? It came out every year, about November. As an undersized child until age 22, I'm fairly certain that the Wish Book weighed more than I did.

And it was beautiful. Full of dreams. Unlimited possibilities. Glossy pages, with a crisp new smell. Brilliant colours. Perfect descriptions. My sister and I would lay on our stomachs on the floor, poring together over each page, feet kicking dreamily in the air.

(Or we engaged in a hostile tug-of-war, threatening to tear it to shreds - that's actually more likely.)

My letters to Santa were entirely based on the Wish Book.

"Dear Santa: Hello. How are you? I am fine. For Christmas, I would like page 27, item 37B8, with accessory B, royal blue. Please say hello to Mrs. Claus."

I had a primary list, and then followed it up with a list of everything else in the Wish Book, just in case I won the Santa lottery. It never occurred to me to look outside of the Wish Book - why would I?

This is a recurring conversation between Spike and I. I mentioned it once, and he said, "What's a Wish Book?" I thought perhaps he was having another aneurism. But he truly didn't know. I tried to describe it to him, explained the magic of looking through this catalogue of joy, and finally asked, exasperated - "How is it possible that you didn't have the Wish Book?"

Spike, who grew up in the centre of the universe, looked back, just as exasperated and said, "Patti - we didn't need the catalogue - we had the STORE!"

So, since I cannot dispute the logic of his statement, I prefer to pull other, unsuspecting people into this recurring conversation, following the "majority rules" model of recurring conversations. This week, it came up again, and I referenced another friend who grew up with the Wish Book, and Spike rolled his eyes at the small-town girl he married.

But somehow, somewhere, the marketing powers-that-be must have overheard. And they realized they had found the key to my cynical, realistic, mocking, smug consumer heart. Because today, I noticed a pleasant glow emanating from within the pile of flyers. Birds sang, and the sun rose, as I investigated the source. I gasped as the glossy cover page was revealed - it's The Dream Book, from Home Depot.

They got me.

(P.S. As I write this, I must tell you that the sunrise is particularly stunning today. Were Spike awake, I'm certain he would explain it in one word - "pollution". What a romantic.)


Kelly said...

i LOVED the wish book!

i get to create my own right now ... it's called a wedding registery ... it's a little freaky to me (can I really ask people to buy me all that stuff?) ... but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do!

Meredith said...

The sunrise today is the first I've noticed in about a year.. it was incredible!

On the Wish Book, sadly enough -- I was looking through it last year with someone, and we couldn't get past the first few pages of useless junk. I guess it's a little less fun as an adult and realizing a lot of it ends up in the dumpster a few weeks later.

But.... the Home Depot Dream Book.. that's another story entirely! R-20 insulation? Hardwood flooring? Koehler fixtures? You've got me!!! Haha.

TLC said...

Less fun as an adult - are you kidding me?! I soooo miss getting the wish book! I still ask Santa for the cotton candy machine on page 503 - complete with sugar to make both pink and blue candy floss.

Now a dream book - wow! I suppose if the indoctrination begins young, we'll be hooked.

Don G said...

The Wish Book !!! That's a woman thing. I well remember it. Never got to look at anything but the front cover. I had a wife and two daughters. I can't remember if they laid on the living room floor, kicking their legs in the air as they read it: but, I can remember the Visa bill at the end of the month. Sigh.....I suppose that if it wasn't the Wish Book, it would have been some other alluring media seeking my money.
Oh, well, easy come, easy go. That's what makes the world go round.

spike said...

...we had the store.

jarod said...

we had the store too...I think...wait...nope.

jarod said...

oh...I've just been informed that the "Wish Book" I thought I was talking about was not "THE WISH BOOK"


Dougie G said...

I didn't care. My dad paid the bills. I'll pay you $20 to tell Ruth there is no such thing! Although, If I know her, she's already found the book and the store!
I saw the sunset. It was buried under the pollution.

Joe said...

When I was a little fella there was the Eaton's Store Catalogue. it was also known as the Great Canadian Survival Guide... I think?

vjc said...

Are you kidding me? I LIVED for the Wish Book! Those glossy pages were dogeared and not-quite-so-glossy by the time we got through with it. And I did eventually get the matchstick construction set that made a replica grandfather clock. Never did get the Style-Me Barbie head though, although I did notice a longer/blacker eyelashes version of it at a toy store last week...Maybe dreams can still come true :)

We lived in one place with the store but I have to say, it simply didn't have the magic of the Wish Book.