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  • Circle Therapy

    November 11, 2008

    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.


    1. JanMary, N Ireland says:

      Lovely 🙂

      I remember doing this too, must try it with my kids.

      November 11th, 2008 at 3:34 am

    2. Monica says:

      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!

      November 11th, 2008 at 3:35 am

    3. Steffj89 says:

      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

      November 11th, 2008 at 3:54 am

    4. Sofia says:

      Good explanations fro moms. Nice one.very useful.

      November 11th, 2008 at 6:51 am

    5. Praise and Coffee says:

      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!

      November 11th, 2008 at 7:18 am

    6. Brigitte says:

      I still use the circle therapy on MYSELF!

      November 11th, 2008 at 7:34 am

    7. Mary says:

      I also used to do this as a child! 🙂

      November 11th, 2008 at 7:36 am

    8. Donna W says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 7:53 am

    9. Carol ~ I Throw Like A Girl says:

      I used to do this, too. Only I made myself pick just one thing from each page. I think I liked deciding which was my favorite.

      November 11th, 2008 at 8:23 am

    10. Jessica says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 8:24 am

    11. Heidi says:

      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….

      November 11th, 2008 at 8:35 am

    12. Smockity Frocks says:

      We were too common for JC Penney. Ours was Sears and Roebuck.

      November 11th, 2008 at 8:59 am

    13. Monica @ WriterChic says:

      This is really sweet. Penney’s always had the best catalogues!

      November 11th, 2008 at 9:01 am

    14. Diana says:

      I used to do the same thing with the Sunday paper ads around Christmas time.

      November 11th, 2008 at 9:05 am

    15. Janna says:

      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).

      November 11th, 2008 at 9:07 am

    16. Prairie Rose says:

      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

      November 11th, 2008 at 9:17 am

    17. Lori says:

      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!

      November 11th, 2008 at 9:22 am

    18. Joni says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 9:30 am

    19. HarryJacksMom says:

      I must try circle therapy – I would fold back the page of the item I wanted and hope Santa would figure it out 😉

      November 11th, 2008 at 9:31 am

    20. Meg @ SpicyMagnolia says:

      My momma let me and my brother do this with the Sears catalog…it was so much fun! And probably kept us occupied for while. 🙂 Thanks for the fun memory to remember.

      November 11th, 2008 at 9:54 am

    21. Kim says:

      My kids are 12, 10, & 8. This year I introduced them to 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!

      November 11th, 2008 at 10:02 am

    22. Jenni D. says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 10:33 am

    23. bee says:

      Oh, I remember circling in the JC Penney catalog as well as Sears and Wilbro! Good times!

      November 11th, 2008 at 10:39 am

    24. fern says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 10:51 am

    25. Patti says:

      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”!!!

      November 11th, 2008 at 11:02 am

    26. WeaselMomma says:

      I used to do this as kid too. What a great idea that I had long since forgotten. I could use some circle therapy.

      November 11th, 2008 at 11:07 am

    27. Sarah at themommylogues says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 11:21 am

    28. Renee says:

      Dream Big. Circle Everything. Both are free.

      -You don’t know how close that is to home right now. Thanks AM.

      Beautiful post, BTW 🙂

      November 11th, 2008 at 11:23 am

    29. Jenni says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 11:31 am

    30. Lori Drumm says:

      I used to do this with the JCPenney and Sears catalogs. Now I tend to dog ear pages more than circle items, but it works just the same. :0)

      November 11th, 2008 at 11:56 am

    31. Katharine says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    32. Lisa says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    33. Grace says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    34. jean says:

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

      November 11th, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    35. June says:

      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!

      November 11th, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    36. Pat says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    37. CircusKelli says:

      Dream big. Circle everything.

      I like that. 🙂

      November 11th, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    38. The voice of melody says:

      I can relate to Sean because I do something similar when I get a nice catalog. Except I don’t circle things anymore. I put X’s. I’ve matured. 🙂

      November 11th, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    39. Beverlydru says:

      I played the circle game when I was little. I think it was with the Sears catalog. Thanks for bringing back a sweet memory. Love, love, love this post.

      November 11th, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    40. Nett says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    41. Melissa says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    42. Jenn A. says:

      Yes! Dream big. It is such a great foundation upon which to learn as we go through life.
      Thanks for writing.

      November 11th, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    43. snarflemarfle says:

      “Circles are free!”

      I love it!

      November 11th, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    44. Natalie says:

      I think we need to do a little circling around here. I love the way you put it into words. I enjoy your blog everyday!

      November 11th, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    45. tom says:

      As Bob Cratchit would have said: “Tiny Tim, you are a philosopher and a gentleman!”

      November 11th, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    46. Sudee in Florida says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    47. Pat Trippiedi says:

      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 :).

      November 11th, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    48. Jill says:

      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.

      November 11th, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    49. The Roost says:

      OMGosh! Flashback….I use to do the same thing with J.C. Penney and I still like ole Lillian…..Yes, dreams are free!

      November 11th, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    50. Mary says:

      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!

      November 11th, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    51. denise says:

      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!

      November 12th, 2008 at 12:26 am

    52. Shelly W. says:

      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.

      November 12th, 2008 at 12:27 am

    53. Vintage Mommy says:

      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.

      November 12th, 2008 at 1:39 am

    54. Fraulein says:

      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!

      November 12th, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    55. S. says:

      Oh, how I remember doing this in the Penney’s catalog. What fun! Thanks for reminding me!

      November 12th, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    56. Renna says:

      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! 🙂

      November 12th, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    57. Sally says:

      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!!!

      November 13th, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    58. Minnesotamom says:

      I totally did this as a little girl, too. JC Penney it was for me, too.

      November 13th, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    59. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

      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

      November 17th, 2008 at 3:17 pm

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