I am a Gen X’er. I was born in 1978 and some of my first childhood memories involved both Aliens and Mister Rogers. I skated at my local roller rink. I grew up with both Jabba the Hutt and Barney (I hated both equally). I didn’t know Elvis, but I was surrounded by his memory. We took computer classes yet still played four square on the playground. Kids recorded songs off the radio onto cassette tapes. We still went to garage band concerts in actual garages. MTV was at its brief and glorious zenith. We had Nirvana. Descendents. Black Crowes. Smashing Pumpkins. Labyrinth. Ramones. Pretty in Pink. Yada yada yada. And so on....and so on. I love my generation.
Fast forward to present times. While retro has always been cool, it’s a little weird to see things I had as a kid all of a sudden being popular again. Some of these things I don’t even remember going out of style. Others I loved as a kid I see now as “reboots” -- childhood favorites repurposed for a new generation. Here are a few of my favorites from the past that can be enjoyed by both children and adults today.
My Little Pony
The original My Little Ponies were around from 1982-1992 and inspired not only a large line of toys, but several animated television series and a feature film. I had about a dozen total that I would tote to my cousin’s house to play with the castle that she had and I didn’t. In 2010 the newest generation of My Little Pony was launched. Not only is it popular with the expected demographic of young children, but it has proved to be massively successful with adults as well. In fact, a group known as the “Bronies” are so obsessive with the franchise they’ve practically hijacked it from everyone else. Practically, but not completely. So whether you have a kid or a Brony on your list, chances are they’ll love one or more of these great little gems.
Just like other kids of the 80’s and early 90’s, my parents had an extensive collection of records from when they were young that I could enjoy along with my own music. I would play my dad’s 45 of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water just as much as I listened to my beloved Hysteria album. Vinyl LP’s were obviously around decades before Generation X, but we were the last ones to regularly play them and, ultimately, witness them fade into obscurity. Luckily, this format has begun to make a comeback in recent years. More and more artists are offering vinyl as an alternative to CD’s and digital downloads. One of my co-workers even told me her nephew likes to frame old album covers and hang them in his bedroom. Who knows, maybe people will start painting giant album covers like they did in Xanadu.... *please please please* *I’ll buy them!*
I’ve always considered Docs along the same line as Converse in that they will never go out of style. Dr. Martens were introduced in England in the 1950’s and soon made their way to North America. I received my first pair when I was 12 years old and still own a pair today. I know some people think of them as too heavy and/or clunky, but I love the look and feel of every pair I’ve owned. I was a total Grunge and Punk kid where combat boots and Docs were the norm. I also know one pair will last for years, so they’re a good buy. If you know someone who likes the Misfits instead of Lady Gaga, a pair of these shoes might be just what the Dr. ordered.
The Smurfs were created in the 1958 by Belgian artist Peyo, but didn’t come to the United States until 1981. Watching this on Saturday mornings in the 80’s was a must. Every kid did it. And The Smurfs were, at least in my mind, the top-shelf cartoon of the day--usually right before Soul Train. I can’t say I’m a fan of the current incarnation of The Smurfs. Mainly because they just had to bring it to the modern world. Why couldn’t they just make a movie in the Smurf village and surrounding kingdom? Anyway, the Smurfs are back in a big way with two movies (so far) and a large array of toys, backpacks, blankets, etc. At least the still look mostly like they did in the cartoon, aside from the whole CGI thing.
Plaid was a big part of the early 90’s grunge movement. Mainly in the form of flannel shirts worn over tees. I wore my fair share of flannel then and even have a few shirts still hanging in my closet. Today however, plaid is not about looking like a flannel-sporting lumberjack. Designers have embraced this latest trend by incorporating it into dresses, pants, leggings and (of course) coats and jackets. You can even get plaid sweaters, scarfs, backpacks, purses...really, it’s all over the place. I personally love that it’s back but I’m always afraid to get involved with current trends since usually by the time I buy it, it’s already gone out of style. But at least with this trend, there’s a good chance that even if I buy it too late for this cycle, I can keep it for the next time it comes around. Not like it matters that much though. I still wear scrunchies for crying out loud (they are better for your hair than ponytail holders).
Whether you’re from Generation X or another equally cool era, hopefully you will like some of the gift ideas I’ve laid out for you today. Happy Holidays, everyone!