(Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Coburn Communications)

In honor of this year’s Adam 12 Days of Christmas, I’m sharing a short list of Gen X Christmas gifts I received back in the day.


If you’re not wise to the Adam 12 Days of Christmas, here’s the scoop. Through December 15, weekdays at 12:12, I give you a cue to call. (Spoiler alert: the cue to call is a clip from A Charlie Brown Christmas). Caller 12 gets a gift from my big ol’ Santa sack (ho ho ho and ha ha ha). One grand prize winner gets to pick their tickets to a show coming in 2024. You can get all the details here.


The Adam 12 Days, plus the holidays, have me in a nostalgic mood. I recently wrote about hanging out on Newbury St. in the ’90s. And I put together a 12-Inch Poll about your favorite retro video game systems. And it’s that list that got me thinking about getting one of those early gaming consoles for Christmas one year and what a big deal that was to my brother and me.


6 Gen X Christmas Gifts I Actually Got

Starting with that retro gaming console, I’ll take you through a half-dozen Christmas gifts my folks hooked me up with when I was a young Gen Xer in the ’80s and ’90s. I could easily double that list. Probably triple it. I was privileged to grow up at a time when there was an actual middle class and my folks could afford to make Christmas special for me brother and me every year. I don’t take that for granted.


If you’re a Gen Xer like me, you might have gotten some of these, too. Or you’ll at least remember them. I don’t remember the years in which I received these gifts; my memory isn’t that sharp. But suffice it to say, they were gifts from a certain era and a certain time when things were simpler. Happy Holidays. And don’t forget to tune in for the Adam 12 Days of Christmas!

  • SEGA Master System

    Again, fuzzy memory. I don’t remember if this was a gift from my folks or my Uncle Michael, who was always on the forefront of all things tech and gaming, even back in those days. It was probably Uncle Michael. He owned Intellivision!

  • Laser Tag

    This one was from mom and dad. Mom even volunteered to hole up in the bedroom on the night after Christmas so my dad, brother and I could turn off all the lights and use the entire house to play Laser Tag in the dark!

  • M.U.S.C.L.E.

    Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere! M.U.S.C.L.E. (inspired by the Japanese Kinkeshi) were my favorite toy as a kid. I still have a slew of ’em.

  • Guts!

    I had my M.U.S.C.L.E. men, my brother Nate had Guts! Same concept, just with army guys. Militarize the kids from a young age, baby! The American way!

  • M.A.S.K.

    My brother and I both loved these. Action figures in cool helmets with special powers that drove vehicles that could transform (i.e. the race car became a glider). Typical ’80s toy/TV show crossover.

  • Cassingles

    Anyone remember cassette singles? Back in the day, you could by a cassette with an A-side and a B-side. Just one song on each. Such a waste, right? Like a 7″ on tape. But crucial for middle schoolers like me who had to be smart with their paper route money. Sometimes I just wanted the one song and couldn’t afford the full album. And they were fun to find in my stocking!

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