Holiday Gift Guide for Me, 1997 (Age 10)

by Emma Barrie

1. Let’s be real: Beanie Babies are just an investment. Over the past year, I’ve collected approximately 100 Beanie Babies. That’s roughly $700 you’ve spent, which later will turn into about $10,000 or more. In the past year alone, 14 of my Beanie Babies have become retired, and are probably now a goldmine. Please see the attached spreadsheet for a full list of the Beanie Babies I own, and the ones I am still waiting on. To give you an idea, Batty the Bat, Hoppity the Bunny, Lefty the Donkey, and Nuts the Squirrel are all incredibly desirable. By purchasing me these items, you are contributing to both my college and your retirement funds. Do the math.

2. Please buy me a denim jacket, like the one Paul Reiser wears on Mad About You. I haven’t yet decided if I want to marry him, or become him, and a matching jacket could possibly accomplish both. I don’t want one of those jackets from the Gap Kids girl section with studs or flare. I want a boy’s one, like he has. I foresee myself sporting this jacket, running into Paul, and having much to talk about, such as our mutual love of jean material.

3. I think this past year I have shown my commitment and devotion to my ever-growing keychain collection. Therefore, I am requesting more keychains. I realize that at this stage in life I am still not allowed out of the house alone and thus lack a house key (a point to be discussed at a later date), but as you have seen, I use each keychain as a keychain for my other keychains. Types of keychains I will accept as gifts: animals that are also flashlights, miniature board games with workable pieces, animals that are also pens, a Kipling thumb-sucking monkey. (Please no rubbery names of states. I’m not a pleb.)

4. I would love a Nickelodeon-brand telephone. The kind with the the green plastic “slime” all over the buttons, that has a cow moo-ing as its ringtone, and that lights up orange when someone calls. I will put it on my antiquey wooden desk that you installed in my room without my knowledge or approval. I think it will add some much needed pizzazz.

5. Speaking of which, anything from Ikea would be nice. Specifically one of those white fake rabbit rugs, a bright blue beanbag chair, and one of those big butterfly chairs. Really just as closely as you can get my room to resemble page 8 of the catalog. I’m preparing for tweendom.

6. You may or may not have noticed I still have several blank glossy white pages in my sticker book. I’m hoping these pages will fill up soon, and honestly, I don’t care with what. I like stickers of almost anything. Ocean stuff, ballet stuff, food/diner stuff, multicultural people, etc. If you really want to treat me, get me those oily stickers that change colors when you press on them, or those fuzzy ones with googly eyes. Hint: stickers make great “present toppers.”

7. A stack of blank VHS tapes might be nice. I’ve been using the ones I find around the house to record episodes of Friends just in case they are never available for purchase and in 20 years I would like to continue to watch them. I’ve been able to fit about 10–12 episodes on the 6-hour tapes, but the 9-hour ones would be more desirable, as there is an hour-long two-part holiday episode coming up, and I would like to make sure they are preserved on one cassette. You cannot imagine my disappointment when a tape runs out halfway through a very special episode

Where are they now? — 2011

1. Though I clung to the storage crate for dear life, my Beanie Babies have since been donated to Kids Without Beanie Babies, a charity I care deeply about. Old Beanie Babies are now sold for between one and five dollars on eBay.

2. I received a denim vest, as it was all that was left in the Gap Kids boys’ department. I wore it anyway. I even met Paul Reiser years later. I thought about telling him the story of the denim vest, but instead decided to act aloof, like didn’t even care who he was, and had no idea he was once on a show.

3. I was given keychains for years, until I amassed a giant ball of useless plastic keychain garbage. Kind of like how I imagine a rat king to form. I don’t know where it is now. I can only imagine it’s been melted down and repurposed.

4. I also received a Nickelodeon telephone. It not only had a moo ringtone, but also one that sounded like a child screaming. I used it until it became something really lame I hid in my closet, and then something I put back into use, ironically.

5. Over the years, I gradually got my room to look more or less like page 8 of the Ikea catalogue. It was hideous. It looked like a Swede threw up in there. Later in life, I longed for the antique wooden furniture my mom got rid of, per my obnoxious and misguided request.

6. Any stickers received are now in sticker heaven, as they were peeled and re-peeled too many times to continue to serve their purpose. I am still accepting stickers as present toppers, on top of real, expensive presents.

7. Friends is now available on DVD.

Emma Barrie has also written for the New York Times and This Recording.

Illustration by John Urquhart.