When I was a kid, the Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs were two important books at our house. We got one each year, and they were thick, thick, thick.

When I was a kid, the Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs were two important books at our house. We got one each year, and they were thick, thick, thick.
Everything those big retailers had for sale was listed and pictured in those many pages. The price was shown big and bold.
My parents ordered many things from the catalogs. In about a week, the mailman left the order at the mailbox. We usually had an idea of how long the wait would be and watched for the mailman each day.
If the item or items were large, the mailman set the package beside the mailbox unless it was raining or snow. If weather was bad, he would honk for someone to come get it immediately or bring it to the house and put it on the porch. It never once crossed our minds about the safety of leaving it beside the mailbox or on the porch
If any of us kids picked up the package from the porch or roadside, we dared not open it. This was our parents’ job, so we waited. Besides, there might be something for someone’s birthday and was a secret.
When fall came and little kids’ thoughts turn to Christmas, the catalogs were looked at often. We kids called it the “wish book.” We paged through the catalogs many times, examining every page, with special looks at the toys. My sister and I looked at and read about every doll, every tea set and every other girl toy, trying to find the perfect Christmas gift. No makeup or clothes for us.
My brothers looked at knives, guns, bicycles and such things. Many times, our gifts did not come in the mail, but our parents went through the catalogs and noted the ideas we had marked with our names carefully printed alongside.
It’s interesting now that many people order online. It seems the Internet is just a modern version of the old “wish book.” The more things change, the more they stay the same.
People have asked about all the disasters we have had at the Hively house. They seem to never end. Right now, we are dealing with buying a new freezer and have had mice, probably a result of the once-faulty garage door. Two people offered to lend us their cat. No thanks.
It seems like we have been spending a lot of time reading the wish book. Surely, one day, we will be through with disasters.
I have been thinking of an old poem. It’s called “The Deacon’s Masterpiece” or “The One-Hoss Shay.” The deacon had his buggy made with the finest materials, but years later, it crumbled to pieces as every part wore out at the same time … as if it had been to the mill and ground.”
Sounds like our house.

Kay Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.