Snips And Snails, Sometimes Sweet

Circle Therapy

The other day I got a Lillian Vernon catalogue in the mail. I think I ordered something from them fifteen years ago and I still get their catalogues. Lillian holds out a lot of hope for me. As do Harry and David. 

Sean was sitting at the kitchen counter, so I plopped the catalogue down in front of him.  I gave him a pen and told him to circle the things he liked.  I used to do this with the J. C. Penney catalogues that my mother got in the mail.  I’d sit on the sofa and spend hours pretending I could order anything I wanted, all I had to do was circle it and it was mine.

I’d circle everything from toys to clothes to appliances.  I never ever got anything from the J. C. Penney catalogue, but I have sweet memories rather than bitter about all that fruitless circling. For me, circling was an exercise in dreaming rather than coveting, possibilities rather than the limitations. 

Sean got busy with that pen, and just like his mother, he circled just about everything, except “girl stuff” which he denounced as yucky. 

Antique Daddy walked in the room and asked what we were doing.  I offered my best explanation but his puzzled expression told me he didn’t understand the value of circle therapy. 

“Sean, you can’t circle everything,” he said as though logic were involved. 

“Yes, I can,” he said. 

“That’s right,” I agreed, “He can circle everything.  Circles are free.” 

 Dream big. Circle everything. Both are free.

59 thoughts on “Circle Therapy

  1. This brings back sweet memories. My sister and I did the same thing with the Sears wish catalog every year. And you’re right, circles are absolutely free!

  2. We do this with our boys too. I remember doing it with the toy catalogs at Christmas more than anything, but I try to let the boys do it at least once a month with like the Oriental trading catalogs and the TRU flyers in particular.
    Also at Christmas time I try to get several copies of the TRU big book and they are each allowed to choose 15 things to put on their list for Santa.
    Then we cut out the pics and using a glue stick we write Santa our letters and glue the pics of what we like on there….
    i then make copies of the letters to share wiht grandparents
    steff

  3. I think it was JC Penny my mom used to!
    I just did this with Lauren last week. So true, circles are free.

    When I come for coffee, I’ll bring Lauren- she’ll take the girly stuff Sean doesn’t want. 🙂

    See you on Twitter!

  4. I circled too! When I was around 10, Sears or Wards or both had real, live Shetland ponies you could order, and I spent all my time drooling over them.

  5. We did this as well. We would have to put our initials on the side though, so my parents would know which kid circled, in case, on a whim they decided to actually get the items in the catalog, which did not happen often.

  6. We also circled as children – from the Sears Christmas catalog.

    I always had my kids sit down and circle from the Christmas books and the Toys R Us flyers. You are right, it seemed calming to them without getting their expectations too high.

    Leave it to a daddy to try to throw logic into it….

  7. I never did this as a child, but I have done it all of my adult life! It really is therapy – I take the time to relax, look at the items, and circle those in which I am interested. Nine times out of ten, I will forget about that catalog or recycle it before I order anything! Yes, thankfully, circles are free.

    My older son does this, too, except in his case it helps to “direct” grandparent spending (which for us, can get way too frivolous and out of control).

  8. We did this too, at Christmas, never got much of the stuff but it was so fun to pick. And a variation on that when older (elementary school) that it occurs to me now is an excellent learning experience in several ways that parents may wish to use is, I’d take the catalog and pretend that I had won a shopping spree, $500 or $1000 or whatever, and then decide what I would buy with that amount of money. I had it all down to the last dollar, written on a sheet of notebook paper and how fun it was to think you could buy that much worth of stuff! :o)

    * * * *

    Great idea! Will use that on Sean, but may have to price everything in the catalogue at one cent for now until his math skills come along. Ha! — J.C. “Penney” — cracking myself up. I am so lame. ~ AM

  9. I used to do this with my boys (who are now 16 and 14). Except it wasn’t Lillian Vernon, it was the Toys R Us big book that comes out near the holidays or the Target toy book that comes in the Sunday Dallas Morning News. They had so much fun dreaming and circling. It was always interesting to see what they were interested in that I had no idea about, too.

    I have very fond memories of the Sears catalog! I would go through that catalog page by page over and over again! What pleasant memories! Thanks, AM, for a trip down memory lane!

  10. I shared with 7 brothers and sisters sooo we wrote our wish list to Santa and put it in the window seal. Lifted the window up and put the list under it and the elves would come and pull it out. You can dream for anything.

  11. My kids are 12, 10, & 8. This year I introduced them to amazon.com and set up a wish list for each of them. They have been having a blast, looking up video games and toys. The nice part is all I have to do is hit “print” and I have an instant shopping list!

  12. I did it with the Sears catalog, then referenced page numbers in my letter to Santa, lest there be any confusion! Now for my 3 older kids, we’ve got a big stack of catalogs on the kitchen counter, ready for any dreamers to practice their circles.

  13. This brings back such memories of laying on the floor with my sister, circling the Sears catalog. Such fun.

    It also brings back another memory–in Jr. High my teachers gave us each a Sears catalog and a marker and told us to spend 1 million dollars. What a good lesson.

  14. I did the same thing – for years! In fact, I still do it today, although the circles are more in my head than on the paper. I go through catalogs and “allow” myself to buy one thing per page, and if I don’t like anything on that page, I can “save” that one for another page where I like two things. I have gotten dozens of completely new wardrobes that way – too bad they weren’t real, but it takes nothing away from the fun of “shopping”!!!

  15. We did that just the other night! It was hilarious to listen to our girls while they did it. “OH MOM!! I LOOOOOOOOOVE this purple rug!!!” It was only in there to showcase the dollhouse, but she was a big fan.

  16. Score one more for the kids who used to circle from the JCPenney Wish Book. *sigh* You know, I never cared if I got the stuff either…it was just fun to dream.

  17. We always had the only circle one thing per page rule. This brings back good memories. Thanks for the email, I was so tickled (silly word, but oh so descriptive)You made my day.

  18. I always save the Harry and David catalogs for my little girls. They love picking out the things they like! Last year they got to pick a gift for grandma and actually order it. They were thrilled.

  19. I have always said brainstorming doesn’t cost anything. Now I’ve found a kindred spirit who feels the same! Thanks for the encouragement to “Dream on!” May I add too, that it’s better to ask God for too much, and have Him say, “No,” than to ask for too little and disappoint Him because He can’t give all He had planned for you.

  20. I still do this. I love dream shopping, circling all the things I would love to get. It’s nice to circle dream.

  21. When we were kids, my brother and I invented a game where one of us had the Sears catalog and the other one said a page number and an letter and whatever item corresponded was what you “won”. This could occupy us for quite a while!

  22. My grandmother and I or my sister and I would hold the Sears or Penney’s catalogs and whichever side that page was in their lap, they got everything on that page. Great memories. Love the “circle therapy.” Yes, let circles and dreams always be free.

  23. Oh me, oh my, the JCPenney’s catalog. My favorite pastime before Christmas. I did the exact same thing and put my initial on it, as though my mother wouldn’t know if me or my only brother circled it.
    Now, my kids are doing the same thing with the various catalogs we get.
    My only disappointment was never getting that trampoline or a big above-ground pool.
    Now, having kids of my own, I completely understand the reservations of my parents.

  24. I used to love doing this. I think I was more like Antique Daddy though. My mom would take the catalogs after we were done so I think I wanted to make sure we bought the best stuff.

    I just looked through the Toys R Us catalog this weekend, and I really wanted to circle again.

  25. Not to put a damper on this post, but I have to send a special “thank you” to the Mother’s who put a comment on your Oct. 25th post about losing a child. When I read those posts I had a heavy heart for those Mothers, and had no idea it was preparing me for the same tragedy. My daughter was killed in a sky diving accident on Nov. 1st. She had always wanted to do it and it was her first time. She kept assuring me that people did it all the time and that everything would be okay. It was a bad landing. She left behind a husband and 2 beautiful little girls. We know that she is in heaven now, but her absence in our lives is almost unbearable. Except for the grace of God, we could not survive this. Thank God I still have her two sisters. Thanks to all you mothers.

  26. So true. I have circled with all my children. Ross and I now enjoy circling Pottery Barn and PB Kids, Toys R Us, etc. The bonus is it gives us ideas for the holidays! Because, you know, the cries of “Mom, can I get that” aren’t enough of a clue :).

  27. My 4 year old does the same thing. Every catalog we get she circles all the things she wants. The other day she asked me, “when is it I get all these things.” Dream Big Girly.

  28. We were of the one item per page variety also. I had 3 sisters. We used to play a game where we would open the book, pick an item in our head and give clues for the other sisters to figure out which item we were looking at. So much free entertainment!

  29. I introduced the “circling” activity to my daughters not long ago, and now they’re circle crazy! Every time I open up a catalog or ad, I see their blue and red circles (they even had the wisdom to choose their own special color for circling). It makes me smile when I look at the stuff they’re marking . . . oddly, none of the things I’ve had in mind for Christmas presents!

  30. Oh, what sweet memories! I used to let my girls do that too. Two of them would circle pretty much everything in the catalogue, but one would take her time and only circle the things she realistically thought we could afford. She’s the one I always say would make someone a very good wife someday.

  31. Sometimes when I’m looking at a catalog and love everything, I mark the things I don’t want . . . I don’t know why that’s fun.

    We are fairly fixated on American Girl around here these days and spend quite a bit of time looking at the catalog together.

  32. To my knowledge I have NEVER ordered anything from Harry and David, yet like clockwork every November they start sending me catalogs. This has gone on for years!

  33. I remember doing the same thing with the Montgomery Wards and Sears catalogues. I also copied the clothes to make new outfits for my paperdolls. You’re right about the circling. I knew I’d never get all that stuff, but the pretending was fun! 🙂

  34. I used to do that with my cousins in the Sears catalog at our grandparents’ house and I looked forward to it every year, even though I never actually got any of the stuff I circled!!!

  35. Whenever I get a chance to read your blog, I feel like we’re sitting in my kitchen having coffee (or tea,) and you are echoing my feelings. I circled Sears & Roebuck, but I love the sentiment that circles are free. Dream big.~~Dee

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