Echo Press readers, employees share favorite presents, memories of Christmases past

Dolls and dollhouses were among some of the favorites.

Echo Press reader Karen W. shared that one of her favorite Christmas presents as a child were these Donny and Marie Osmond dolls, which she still has today. Contributed photos

Celeste Edenloff – Growing up, some of my favorite Christmas presents included an Easy Bake Oven, a Lite-Brite, Barbie dolls and one of my all-time favorites was a black rocking chair that I could rock my baby dolls in. I still have that chair today.

I also remember the year my mom made us all sweatshirts – the boys had slices of pizza on theirs and the girls had roller skates. Oh, how my mom worked so hard on those sweatshirts. I can remember it as if it was yesterday.

Echo Press employee Celeste Edenloff is pictured with a rocking chair and the "Drowsy" sleepyhead talking doll she received for Christmas in the 1970s. She still has that rocking chair today, as it was one of her favorite presents as a child. Contributed photo

I also loved that every year we would find apples and oranges in our Christmas stockings instead of trinkets.


Christmas was always such a magical time of year no matter what our presents were.

Echo Press readers were asked to share their favorites and here are some of the responses:

Katie S. – Game Boy, handmade wooden rocking crib for my dolls, a trip to Disney World and my favorite Christmas classic, the Lifesavers storybooks. I miss when they actually had stories in them.

Karen W. – Donny and Marie Osmond dolls. I loved the fancy outfits that they came with. I actually just found them in storage last year. In the case was a note that said Christmas 1978. Also a Spiro-graph. That kept us entertained for hours.

Jennifer G. – My mom and dad built me a dollhouse that was a replica to their house. From scratch, no kit. The curtains were from my mom’s sister’s prom dress from the 1960s. I would save my money and go buy dollhouse furniture from Edelweiss in the Viking Plaza Mall. It used to be just to the right of the JC Penney's store. I still have it. My girls, nieces and daycare kids played (and broke a few things) with it and now my grandbaby will, too.

Jennifer G., an Echo Press reader, is pictured when she was younger with a dollhouse made by her mom and dad. It was one of her favorite presents she ever received as a child. Contributed photo

Sarah R. – There was a year when Santa came with gifts for all the grandkids. Apparently he forgot me as he was nearing the bottom of his bag and realized I hadn’t received a gift. My great aunt quickly grabbed a Christmas decoration from her home and wrapped it up, tossed it to Santa and that was my gift. I thought nothing of it and was happy with my little ceramic chicken holding a candy cane. And now, 35-ish years later, I still smile every year when I take it out of its bubble wrap and find a special place for it.


Echo Press reader Sarah R. received this ceramic chicken holding a candy cane one year when Santa apparently forgot to get her a present. Contributed photo

Nichole A. – When I was about 5 or 6 years old, I was convinced I saw Rudolph’s nose flying through the sky one Christmas Eve from my bedroom window (Yes, I should have been asleep). I silently asked Santa to bring me a saucer sled. In the morning, propped next to the tree, was a bright pink saucer sled with my name on it.

Michelle W. – Cabbage Patch kids.

Chrissy H. – My dad made me my dollhouse that matches the home I grew up in from the paint color on the outside to the linoleum floor covering. I would go to Ben Franklin and buy “things” for the house. I still have it.

This dollhouse was built by Echo Press reader Chrissy H.'s dad when she was a little girl. He made it to match the home she grew up in – from the paint color on the outside to the linoleum floor covering on the inside. He made all of the things inside, including the kitchen sink, fridge, stove and couch. Contributed photo

Joel D. – Mine are all memories. My dad would break open a bale of hay in the backyard on Christmas Eve so the reindeer would have something to eat when they stopped by at night. The next morning, it was all gone. Another one is when I snuck downstairs during the night to see what Santa brought and saw he gave my brother the toy I wanted, so I switched it. My dad then said, “I don’t think he brought that for you,” and I said, “How would you know?” I also loved all the cool midnight church services we went to and it was so dang cold outside all the time, but so warm and powerful inside.


Employee favorites

Echo Press employees were also asked to share their favorite presents. Here are some of their responses:

Linda Jenson, lead account clerk – I don’t remember a lot of presents when I was younger, but the one that stands out to me was when my brothers and I got a Nintendo. It came out in a huge box. We all took turns unwrapping a side. When we opened the big box, our anticipation only grew as we discovered another wrapped present inside. Inside that was yet another until we finally got down to the Nintendo itself. But more than the presents, I remember helping my mom clean up after Christmas dinner (no presents until the kitchen was clean) or laying on the floor with my brothers watching “A Christmas Story” over and over on our VCR tape.

Linda Jenson, right, an Echo Press employee, is pictured with her brothers and the wrapped up Nintendo they received for Christmas when they were younger. Contributed photo

Shelly Beaulieu, advertising manager – My favorite present was an Easy Bake Oven my dad bought from the local hardware store on Christmas Eve. He never shopped early and just went to town and bought whatever he thought someone would like from that store. One-stop shopping, I guess. I would bake and bake for him. I am sure he got really si8ck of my cooking back then, but as an adult, he told me many times that I was a good cook. Not sure if he wanted to take credit or not.

Diann Drew, publisher – My favorite gift was always a doll. My siblings and I would wake up very early in the morning and play board games until the time that we were allowed to see what Santa had brought. I don't remember all the gifts, but I do remember the feeling of the magic of Christmas morning.

Echo Press Publisher Diann Drew is shown with one of the many dolls she received as Christmas presents when she was a little girl. Contributed photo


Karen Tolkkinen, reporter – My most eagerly anticipated gift was a Barbie that could move her arms, but it was also the most disappointing as the movement was minimal, stiff and mechanical. I guess I was expecting more range of motion. My favorite gift, though, was one I didn't expect. It was a journal that my parents gave to me in 7th grade. It was pale green, with a picture of a horse on the cover, and a locked clasp. I poured all my hopes and heartaches into that book. It is amazing to dive back into my 13-year-old life every time I open up that old journal. It also started my lifelong journaling hobby.

Karen Tolkkinen, an Echo Press employee, is pictured with a diary she received when she was 13. Contributed photo

Travis Gulbrandson, reporter – I can't remember any of the exact titles, unfortunately, but starting when I was around 9, I would receive coffee table books about film history, which I was very interested in. I still have most, if not all, of them, but right now they're in storage. I can't wait to get them out of there so I can read them again.

Thalen Zimmerman, reporter – On Christmas day, 2003, a large box waited for me. Tearing off the wrapping and ripping open the box revealed an acoustic guitar with a sunburst finish. Everywhere I went that day, my guitar accompanied me. I paid little attention to the other gifts. By far, the best Christmas present I have ever received.

Al Edenloff, editor – I loved Hot Wheels, the gleaming metallic little cars with the red circle around their wheels. They were so cool. I remember getting a bright orange racetrack with loops, ramps and a neat finish line gadget at the end where a checkered flag would fall to indicate which car won. I set one very long track up that started at the top of our kitchen and went all the way down the basement stairs. Later, Hot Wheels put out Sizzlers, cars that you could charge up using a “Juice Machine.” We'd race them on a “Giant O” racetrack that was all black. It was so fun.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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