Toys under the tree span generations
December 25, 2003
By Susan Wood
Tribune staff writer
MEYERS – It’s hard to imagine how some toys stand the test of time, when generations of boys and girls who open them every Christmas morning don’t.
As youngsters have for years, Jacob Miller, 4, of Meyers, let it be known at 5 a.m. that he was ready to get moving. He and his brother, Kyle, 7, tried to coax their parents, Jill and Shawn, out of bed.
“I said: ‘Go back to bed. It’s dark,'” Jill Miller said with an understanding laugh.
Once the clan emerged a few hours later – the free-for-all of presents from Santa and family members covered the living room floor. Within the evidence of paper madness, toys – contemporary and traditional – fulfilled wish lists.
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While the adults opted to adopt a family through the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center, Jacob and Kyle made out their lists and asked for things along the way. They got a few surprises.
The two received live play things from Arizona. Grandparents, Shane and Janie Wagner, brought two geckos – lizards to lay people – which waited for privacy in their glass aquarium, another one of Kyle’s gifts.
He got a science kit that involved an archeological dig of skeleton bones. One who aspires to be a professional digger when he grows up, Kyle spent much of the morning chipping away at the mound of sand with hammer in hand and safety goggles on his face.
“I got a bone,” he declared, pulling it out to inspect the buried triceratop evidence.
Kyle said he didn’t ask for the archeological dig kit – “it just came.”
“He loves science stuff,” his mother said. “He said to me: I just hope I get all science stuff.'”
When asked where he gets most of his ideas for toys on his wish list, Kyle’s brother pointed to the television.
Jacob scored a hockey game table to appease his sports passion, but his attention floated between gifts. Among them, presents like the Etch-a-Sketch drawing tool that has graced many an American households.
“It’s the first time we’ve had the original one,” Shawn Miller piped in.
The adults reflected on toys of their early years – Lincoln Logs and Rock-em, Sock-em Robots.
How do some toys like Barbie last for generations?
“It’s the hope that you look like her when you grow up,” Janie Wagner said, leaning back in the lazy-morning bliss on the Miller family sofa.
Jill’s mother passed down her Barbie dolls to her. Her twin brother, Ryan Wagner, went for the cars and trucks, reinforcing the notion of the natural progression of gifts. To Ryan, toys used when you’re young tell you a little bit about the adult years later.
His earlier passion for Hot Wheels gave way 20 years later to having a four-wheel drive truck.
“I definitely think there are Tahoe-specific toys. These guys got goggles,” he said, referring to his nephews.
Snowshoes, skis and season passes were added to the list that complete the South Lake Tahoe experience.
The family was relieved there were indoor toys under the tree, as outside looked a bit treacherous for play things that could get buried – even if they take off in the air.
Jacob got a half-Jeep, half-rocket launcher. But it was his 27-year-old father looking intently interested in assembling it.
“That’s why I’m putting it together,” he said, grinning.
– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at email@example.com