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Briggs: What was your version of Ralphie's Red Ryder BB gun?

We know Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" would do anything for "the holy grail of Christmas gifts." What was the one gift you had to have as a kid?

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Tami Llewellyn (left) with her grandmothers and her brother Tim in 1972. She's holding the doll she just had to have.
Special to The Forum
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One of my favorite Christmas morning traditions the last few years has been to start making breakfast while watching “A Christmas Story” on the kitchen television. One of the stations runs it back to back to back all day.

The 1983 film is one of my favorites for so many reasons, among them watching Ralphie try to find ways to convince his parents to buy him “an official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.” Not just any gift, he says, but “the holy grail of Christmas gifts.”

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In the beloved movie "A Christmas Story," Ralphie just had to have “an official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time," despite the odds that he would shoot his eye out.
Wikimedia Commons / Special to The Forum

So I started to wonder, what was your “Red Ryder” toy? What was the gift you just had to have as a kid?

I threw the question out on Facebook and was delighted by the answers. So here are some of the responses I received, along with a couple of my favorite old Christmas toys.

A Cabbage Patch Kid when I was 5 in 1983. My parents could not get their hands on one, but my aunt and uncle in Arizona were able to at the last minute. They called me on Christmas morning to tell me that Santa left his gift for me under their tree by mistake. I remember being so excited! — Gretchen Kindseth.

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Cabbage Patch Kids were the most popular toy of Christmas 1983.
Photo courtesy of The Strong National Museum of Play, Rochester, N.Y. / Special to The Forum

FURBY! I felt like I had won the lottery when I opened it — Becky Blair.

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The Furby was the must-have Christmas toy from about 1998 to 2001.
Photo courtesy of The Strong National Museum of Play, Rochester, N.Y. / Special to The Forum

When I was in middle school in 1974 I was desperate for boots like these (left). But red galoshes (right) are what was under the tree. I’m not kidding. My beloved mom. Always the pragmatist. — Nancy Christenson.

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Go-Go boots like the ones worn by performers Jennie and Terrie Frankel in this 1972 publicity photo were all the rage, but in Mandan, N.D. little Nancy Christenson found red galoshes like this under her Christmas tree.
Publicity photo / Wikimedia Commons / Red boot photo Hunter Boots / Zappos / Special to The Forum

I sooooo wanted a pair of pink saddle shoes in the ‘80s. I didn’t get them. My mom said they were too expensive. — Karmen Evans.

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Toys aren't the only thing people really want for Christmas. Karmen Evans wanted shoes similar to these.
Photo courtesy Walmart / Special to The Forum

With me it was a battery-powered boat — a Coast Guard Cutter I think - that came from JCPenney on Broadway. I was so excited. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. The propeller didn’t spin and the rudder was broken off in the box. It went back to the store, and there was not replacement since it was the last in stock. — Dick Lunde.

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Dick Lunde, who grew up in Fargo, wanted a battery-powered boat similar to this, but was disappointed when it didn't quite live up to expectations.
Photo courtesy of The Strong National Museum of Play, Rochester, N.Y. / Special to The Forum

The white rocking cradle from the Sears catalog. Although it is #10 here, in the catalog I saw it in it was #3. I repeatedly requested it by number, so to this day it is called my ‘number three cradle.’ — Heidi Twedt.

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Throughout the 20th century, American children would scour the Sears catalog for the perfect Christmas present.
Photo courtesy of Wishbookweb.com / Special to The Forum

This doll! I wish I remembered her name, but I was crazy for her. I insisted that she be in all of our pictures and I had her for so many years. — Tami Blanchard Llewellyn.

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Tami Llewellyn (left) with her grandmothers and her brother Tim in 1972. She's holding the doll she just had to have.
Special to The Forum

I begged for these hiking boots with the red laces. — Kelley Switzer DeMars.

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Hiking boots with red laces make a pretty practical Christmas gift.
Photo courtesy of Zappos / Special to The Forum

And finally, I’ll leave you with one of my favorites — the Crissy doll. Do any of you 1970s kids remember her?

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She was about the size of the modern American Girl doll. She wore a very groovy orange lace dress and had blazing red hair.

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The most popular feature on the Crissy doll was the ability to change the length of her hair with the pull of her ponytail.
Photo courtesy: The Strong National Musuem of Play, Rochester, N.Y.

But the coolest thing was you could change the length of her hair with the yank of the ponytail at the top of her head. I can still hear the machine gunlike "brrrrrrrrripppp" sound when I pulled the ponytail out of her little plastic scalp.

I guess it was kind of like my version of the Red Ryder BB gun. After several years of play, her beautiful red hair was a tangled mess, and the mechanism which converted her hair from short to long broke, so she was stuck with one long synthetic dreadlock. But she was loads of fun — and best of all, I never shot my eye out.

Here’s hoping you get everything you wish for this Christmas!

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Tracy Briggs, "Back Then with Tracy Briggs" columnist.
The Forum

Tracy Briggs is a News, Lifestyle and History reporter with Forum Communications with more than 30 years of experience.
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