Childhood Christmas Collecting Memories

It’s Christmas Eve, 2016.  For me, it means that 30 years ago today was the day that my card collecting started.  At least I think so.  

Like may kids, I was allowed to open one or two gifts on Christmas Eve.  If I recall correctly (and I usually do), the one I chose that evening in 1986 was a gift from my aunt and uncle in Alabama.  It was heavy, I remember thinking that.  It was a hand-collated 1986 Topps set in a binder.  That’s where it all started for me.

Collecting is as much a part of my life as anything has been.

I was finishing up on some last-minute shopping yesterday and stopped into a Barnes & Noble.  Looking at the magazines reminded me that as a kid, I always knew what one of my gifts was going to be.  It was the newest Beckett Baseball Price Guide.

I don’t feel that I was too tough to shop for as a kid and collecting cards had to make it pretty easy.  There weren’t 10,000 sets produced yearly like today.  Mama and dad knew that a box (or two or three) cards for the next baseball season would always be a hit.

Nowadays, it’s a bit ridiculous how late releases for a given season are.  We’re well into the 2016-17 hockey season and the 2015-16 Upper Deck The Cup set has just recently come out.  That is asinine if you ask me.

Collecting in the 1980s and 1990s, I was looking forward to sets for the NEXT season.  I can’t remember exactly what sets came out early, but I believe Topps was one.  The other that I’m certain of is Donruss.  I particularly remember getting 1991 Donruss for Christmas 1990 and 1992 Donruss for Christmas 1991.

Perhaps these were the first ones that actually came out for a season before the Christmas prior.  They could get away with it because Donruss went to a two-series format for the 1991 set.  I remember thinking “wow” when I saw the 1992 Donruss cards for the first time.  That was the year where they went for a more impressive, premium look.  Thank you, Upper Deck.

It wasn’t always boxes and packs of cards I would get.  There was always team apparel, card supplies and other random memorabilia underneath the tree.  Sometimes, even singles.

This card is the first “big” card that my parents bought me.  Sure, it’s not in great condition.  I don’t care.  I still have it and it’s one of the two cards I’ve had the longest and never gotten rid of.  You can’t reasonably expect parents to shell out $80-100 for a high-grade rookie card for a ten-year old kid.  Who knew if I’d take care of it?  What if I lost interest in cards?

1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson

It’s still one of my most treasured cards.

I also know that they bought me a 1973 Reggie Jackson.  I do not have that card any longer, unfortunately.  We moved when I was young and I know that I never found it after the move.  What ever happened to it is a great mystery of my life.  It does prove that the questions I asked about buying an expensive card for a kid are legitimate.  Even a kid that was pretty responsible and loved his cards like me managed to allow something to happen to that card.

I’m an adult now.  I still collect cards.  They have always been a mainstay of my Christmases and still are.  I even have a feeling that Santa will be leaving me some cards when he visits tonight.  I’ll be up watching the NORAD Santa tracker with my lovely lady, hot chocolate in hand.  I have to make sure to be to bed in time so that he doesn’t skip our house!

What memories do you have from childhood that are related to cards?  Is there something that you knew every year you would get?  Is there something you did get that stands out in your mind and is one of your personal treasures?  Let us know in the comments below!

Merry Christmas, everyone!


  1. In Mid December 1990 I went to my first card show and I remember buying a 1991 Donruss Alex Cole – some guy had about a few singles and I think I bought this card for a dime or quarter to check out the new cards.

  2. I always loved getting the factory sealed complete sets knowing you cannot open them, and they go straight into the closet. This was also the time when Costco used to carry the wax packs in bulk. I prayed I would get one and then I spend Christmas morning opening up each one.

  3. Excellent read. Card shows is what I remember. Card shows with my dad. We would spend a whole day walking around and buying things here and there.

    It was just so much fun.

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