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When did my list for Santa Claus become New Year resolutions?

By Dinah Chong Watkins (China Daily)

13:35, December 27, 2011

As a kid, I had lots of toys on my wish list for Santa. But like many Chinese parents, they stuck to what they thought would be most beneficial to my development. Once, I received a Mickey Mouse bubblegum machine filled with red, white and blue gumballs. It required a penny to play it, thus teaching me early in life the meaning of the term "user-pay".

And even though I wanted it as badly as the next puppy-love-struck girl, my mother was not about to buy me the board game Mystery Date, because each time you'd open the little cardboard door, your mystery date turned out to be a white man.

But the toy that I wanted most, the one I looked for every year under the Christmas tree, was an Easy-Bake Oven, a working toy able to pump out miniature cakes and cookies with the eye-searing heat of a 100-watt incandescent light bulb.

I'd dog-ear the page of the toy catalog where the oven was advertised and spend hours picking out the candy colored pre-packaged cake mixes and baking accessories that sought to pry apart a parent's wallet even further. I'd dream that - like the girls in the TV commercial - I'd proudly present the professionally decorated cakes to my family, and they would gleefully applaud my budding husband-catching skills (please note this was the 1970s).

I never did, though, find that Easy-Bake Oven under the tree. But maybe it was for the better because like an innocent romance that never goes beyond the first kiss, I'm left with only the idealized version of what might have been. And I'm still at liberty to conjure up effortless, pain-free fantasies that don't include undercooked cakes, burnt fingers or broken hearts.

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