Santa and Camel Hasselhoff

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If you are stressing out over gifts for your kids and grandkids this holiday season hoping that you’ve found that one special gift they’ll remember forever, then let me advise you to stop right now.

I spent years shopping for the perfect gifts for my kids – facing long lines in annoying toy stores, battling through the internet airwaves bidding on e-bay, and freaking out when packages still hadn’t arrived just two days before Christmas.

I’ll never forget the year I couldn’t find the Barbie Dream House for my daughter; it still replays in my mind like a Freddy Kruger nightmare. I can remember running through toy stores with a Charles Manson like gaze, knocking over small children, my heart pounding as I was chased by the phantom of disappointing my child.

I always wondered which of those amazing toys I battled to find would become her favorite.  Well, I found out.  Her favorite toy was revealed one night when I saw sparks flying from behind our couch due to the lamp chord our boxer had chewed through. The chord was lying precariously on the carpet, and I yelled at the kids upstairs to get downstairs because the house might catch fire.

As I debated if I should touch the hot chord to unplug it and if I should immediately give our puppy to somebody younger than me, I looked upstairs to see if the kids were coming. What I saw was my daughter with a pillow in one hand and Camel Hasselhoff in the other.

Named after David Hasselhoff from his Baywatch days, he was a small camel my daughter got out of a Happy Meal when she was about four years old. He was small, cheap, and unattractive, but he was going to survive the fire (by the way, the picture you see is actually Camel Hasselhoff. If you want to look up any of your old McDonald toys, got to the Collector’s Connection site. It’s awesome). Camel Hasselhoff, not the Barbie Dream House, or the Furbie, or the ring from Kay Jewelers, made the cut.

Looking back, I remember that my son’s favorite possession was a white football helmet that had been worn by his father and uncles. He wore that thing everywhere. While it wasn’t pretty, it did prevent several concussions and gave him a distinct advantage when he played football with the neighborhood kids who were helmetless.

So, there you have it. Yell “fire” in your house and see what they grab. I guarantee you it won’t be that gift that cost you a fortune. It will be the ring from the gumball machine, or that baseball card that cost a nickel, or the hand-me-down that you’ve always wanted to throw away.

I will never forget my eighteen year-old daughter at the top of the stairs, ready to leave a house that might catch fire, holding Camel Hasselhoff.

In that moment I learned two things. Magic can find its way into the most unlikely of possessions. And nobody beats the Hoff.