The holidays are upon us and, as a native Virginian, I will be heading north in order to celebrate with family and friends, and play with my nephews, and by “play,” I mean the old “Get Auntie Drinkie another glass of wine” game. They seem to like it, and it makes Christmas much more enjoyable for me. Win. Win.

Usually I get fairly nostalgic at this time of year, as I look back on my childhood and reflect on how easy life was then, when everything was paid for and I had my own room and my biggest concern was whether or not I would get the Holly Hobbie EZ-bake oven. Spoiler: I did but I had to share it with my sister. The oven lost some of its appeal when we realized that a mini light bulb does not really produce enough heat to cook miniature pies.

I grew up Catholic (which explains a lot) and we did the whole advent calendar, nativity scene, school Christmas pageant, caroling thing, but let’s face it: Baby Jesus or not, my sisters and I were in it for the presents. That’s not so unusual for a child who thinks that the world revolves around them. Now, for a grown woman, it’s a little delusional but that’s a story for another time and another place. (My memoirs from rehab.)

So I thought, in the interest of the secular, I would list some of my all-time favorite Christmas presents from the lost days of my youth. You’ll notice that most of them are doll-related, because my parents wanted to do everything in their power to perpetuate traditional gender stereotypes.

10. Victorian dollhouse strategically hidden in our basement under a sheet by my parents. Came with Victorian dollhouse people, including a dad that we just stuck on the top of the roof every time we played with it because he was “at work.”

9. A baby doll that came in a suitcase with little baby clothes. I named her Sugar Plum, kept her in a crib by my bed, and dreamed of the day when I would have my own baby. Funny, I never dreamed that one day, I would have my very own blog.

8. Cabbage Patch preemie. Note the “preemie.” I love the thought of a bunch of crazed parents fighting over who gets the premature baby doll. Just what you want your daughter to play with. In her make-believe NICU.

7. Large Barbie Doll head. Just the head, so I could put crayon-like make-up on her until she looked like a hooker. At the time, I thought she was beautiful.

6. Belle, Snoopy’s sister. My sister had Snoopy but I wanted Snoopy in a dress. Hence, Belle.

5. Atari. Enough said. (A game of Pong, anyone?)

4. Strawberry Shortcake dolls. If memory serves, and it rarely does, I had Strawberry Shortcake, Blueberry Muffin, Lemon Meringue, and Peach Blossom. All of these wonderful scented dolls, piled on top of each other in a corner of my room. The stench was overwhelming.

3. One of my first albums. Wham. Make it big.

2. Simon. The electronic “memory” game. When it was low on batteries, it sounded like a dying cow.

And my number one present:

1. Irish sweaters and matching hats from my parents, who had traveled to Ireland earlier that year. Without us. We had to stay home with a babysitter. Which meant we got to eat Doritos.

My parents had sweaters too, so we were like the ultimate dork Irish sweater family. And I loved it.