The holiday season has begun! If you've only been paying attention to this early onslaught for the last few years, I'll let you in a not-so-secret little secret--it's ALWAYS started this early. It's just that, back in the day, it wasn't as hyped as it is now. I remember as a kid waiting with bated breath for the arrival of that first Christmas catalogue in the mail. Would it be Sears? Would it be JC Penney? Who knew? Who cared? Back then we never had news stories like this one telling us what the hot new toy would be for the upcoming Christmas season. We just laid down on the floor, opened up the catalogue in front of us, and put marks beside the stuff we wanted. Then we'd start eliminating; we couldn't have EVERYTHING. For me, it was always Matchbox and Hot Wheels Cars. I loved 'em. At one point, I had over a hundred of the little suckers. And you couldn't have the miniature replicas without the accompanying Matchbox Parking Garage, Matchbox Airport, Matchbox Farm, or Matchbox City (this was updated every two years). Oh, and the Hot Wheels Tracks! Can't forget the Hot Wheels Tracks!

These were great! Okay, so the loop-da-loop never worked--the car would always fail to defy gravity at the top of the loop and fall. And you couldn't make it work by making the car go faster; if you did, it would careen off the track. But the tracks were awesome, nonetheless. I mean, you could string 'em all over the house. And I did...and I got in trouble for it! But I still did. Just start it at the top of the piano or the couch, release the car, and let it fly. Ah yes, those were the days. Of course, if you did something bad and your mom needed to whip your butt and you forgot to put up the track and it was handy...well, that's your own fault. Yes, it was a hard lesson. But it was worth it. It's one of the main things that I remember when I think of Christmases from my youth: Matchbox and Hot Wheels Cars, Hot Wheels Tracks, and carelessly leaving them out for Mom to use in a pinch. Ho ho ho!