My 1986 Letter To Santa Is This Christmas’ Most Relevant Historical Document

What were you circling in the 1986 Sears Wish Book? (Warning: That link is a nostalgia rabbit hole from which there may be no return. Consider yourself warned. Also, this post contains affiliate links because I’m still saving up for She-Ra’s castle.)

If it wasn’t one of these, we probably can’t be friends since we have absolutely nothing in common.

1986 Letter to Santa Claus | Maia Nolan-Partnow

My mom has been Going Through Things, both literally and figuratively, since last month’s 7.0 earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska, which broke a lot of her china and seems to have sparked in her a desire to preserve and share historic artifacts. Apparently the quake jolted her (pun intended) into beginning the Swedish Death Cleaning thing that all the Insta-grannies are into these days.

I support this, because it’s how I ended up with this scan of a letter I wrote to Santa Claus a little more than three decades ago.

Dear Santa claus,

this year I would like a Cornsilk Kid or a popple, and the Play-do fluppy dogs Playset, and a few nice surprises.



P.S. I will be at grandma’s house this year.

Let’s not dwell on — although one might certainly stop to admire — my lovely penmanship, which was the most important thing I learned in first grade at Lake Otis Elementary School (seriously ordering D’Nealian workbooks for my kids right now), or the fact that Santa’s reindeer looks as suspiciously like a moose as you might expect from a child who’d spent the entirety of her almost-eight years in Alaska. And let’s not worry too much about my loose grasp of proper nouns, as any reporter who’s worked with me as an editor can tell you I eventually embraced capitalization rules to an extent that could be considered overcorrection.

Let’s please not also make the mistake of thinking I was not a greedy or materialistic child just because I used the word “or” in my short list of desired gifts. I had, the year prior, produced a Christmas list that was approximately a dozen letter-size sheets of excessively stapled manuscript paper with the names of wished-for toys scrawled deep into every margin with Mr. Sketch marker.

Now. About those gifts.

A Cornsilk Kid, for those who were not in the target demographic at the time, was a new kind of Cabbage Patch Kid that, instead of the standard yarn hair, had plastic filament hair like a Barbie doll that looked glossy and beautiful in the package and took approximately three days to morph into one single ratted dreadlock that was next to impossible to brush out. Santa delivered on this request; her name is Sonia Alvira, and I use the present tense because she’s in a drawer in my bedroom as we speak. She would later be joined by Darcie Renata, a Toddler Kid, and Philomena Emilie, a baby-powder-scented Baby, as well as my brother’s Preemie kid, Raymond Denton, who had the looped yarn puff of hair. I’m not sure about Raymond, but Philomena and Darcie are in my children’s bedroom right now, enjoying a whole new generation of abuse. Say what you will about ’80s trends; I know a lot of vintage Cabbage Patch Kids that are still in circulation 30+ years later.

Popples you may be familiar with because they were the subject of an attempted Netflix reboot that, to my knowledge, didn’t really catch on with today’s kids. This was the original Popples launch, however, and Santa didn’t get the chance to bring me this trend toy because one was procured by my parents on behalf of my faraway grandfather in Virginia, who wasn’t sure what kids liked and so wisely just sent cash. My Popple was white for about five minutes, after which she was light gray, and named Puffball, and she must be still about somewhere in Alaska, because she was in my bedroom at my parents’ house at least until I graduated from college.

Fluppy Dogs were a hot trend for a minute there. (I assume you don’t need me to explain what Play-Doh is.) These were plush dogs covered in shaggy yarn hair, sort of like pastel Afghans. I never got one of the dogs themselves, and I also didn’t get this Play-Doh set, although my grandmother did knit me, at my request, a Fluppy Dog sweater that she finished when I was in fifth grade and too embarrassed to wear it more than once.

Anyway, it’s a magical time of year and you never know what horrible trendy thing your kids are going to fall in love with and treasure forever, which is something I’ll try to keep in mind when I’m hopping around the living room swearing after having stepped on some small part of something in the days after we open gifts.

Merry Christmas, Popples.

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