I always loved Christmas. 

I loved making Christmas cookies.

I loved sitting in the dark and looking at the decorated tree for the first time.

I loved having the family all together at our house for a big meal on Christmas. 

I was not, however, a huge fan of Christmas presents. 

My stepfather and Mom always had a Christmas account set up for us, and that was the money we got for our Christmas shopping.  Basically $12. 

So with $12 to spend, you had to get creative in your shopping – especially when you consider, we had two families to buy for (divorce makes for double the shopping).  Thank goodness for the five and dime stores, where a person could stretch a dollar until it hollered.  Also, I am the WORST present wrapper you will ever run into.  I once ran out of tape, and tried to use Elmer’s Glue to stick the paper together.  Helpful Hint – don’t ever do this.

I know we were so lucky to have all that we had.  But every year there was one really “wtf were they thinking” present from our folks.

One year they got me a basic electric guitar and amp.  Nice, I guess, but I had never expressed any interest in learning the guitar – much less the electric guitar.  I wasn’t particularly into rock and roll music either.  I tended to listen to musicals and standards from the 40s and 50s.

One year it was a table top hockey game.  For two girls.  Who had never even been to a hockey game. 

But the one that really baffled me was when I got a Thingmaker. 

Remember those? 

You poured this foul smelling liquid (“Plasti-Goop”) into a metal mold and which was placed in an open-face electric hotplate oven and heated to 390° F!  That’s right folks!  A toy for children where a hunk of metal, containing a mystery chemical goop, is heated to 390° and then removed with a U-shaped wire handle inserted into the hunk of metal.  Wheeeeee!  Yup; Thing Maker was Mattel’s version of SNL’s Irwin Mainway’s (Dan Akryod) fine toy – Bag O’ Glass

I was always a girl-girl, so why my folks would think I would be into making rubbery insects in a procedure that almost guaranteed suffering 1st to 2nd degree burns, will always be a mystery to me. 

I tried using it.  Hated the smell.  Got burned numerous times, and didn’t know what to do with the end product – rubbery bugs. 

The children of today will never know the thrill of living life on the burning edge of Mattel’s Thingmaker because in 1973 it was pulled from the market because of new safety regulations issued by the newly created Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

Well done Consumer Product Safety Commission.


  1. tanteterri –

    apropos of nothing – a question: did you ever work a gig as an extra on “Las Vegas” (the NBC series with
    James Caan & Josh Duhamel)? Bravo! ran a marathon weekend of the show. I watched an episode & lo
    and behold, walking through a casino shot was either you OR your EXACT CLONE. Rare to see a resem-
    blance like that—unless you’ve got a twin.

    Just curious if that was indeed you.

  2. Nope. Wasn’t me. I never did extra work. I appear (very briefly) in the movie Sexbomb as the Kraft Services Woman. Hot Cross Nuns were on a morning show in LA, and I was on a Colorado morning show when I was with Bottom’s Up. And I did some local commercials in Michigan; and that is the sum of my onscreen resume. Wonder who my doppelganger is!

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