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McDonalds Bucks in My Christmas Stocking

My family was never really that big on Christmas stockings.  We didn't have a fireplace or a chimney so they just kind of rested on the back of the living room sofa.  I remember bugging my Dad one year when it dawned on me that while the house had a chimney outside... we didn't have a fireplace inside.  He tried to explain to my 6-year-old brain that the chimney was attached to the furnace down in the basement, but this really upset me because how would Santa get into the house and not get hurt?  He told me he'd enter through the window in my Parent's bedroom since it was next to the chimney.  I found that acceptable, I guess, and never questioned it.

Anyway, back to stockings.  We had basic red ones with white trim, and our names were sewn on with green yarn.  My Mom would always make sure to buy some goodies and trinkets at CVS or the Dollar Store and toss them in.  They included chocolate gold coins, funny pencil erasers, gum, candy, and maybe a Koosh ball.  But the ultimate stocking stuffer gift back then was the McDonald's Gift Certificate coupon booklets! 

Today, they come in credit card-style gift cards or even online electronic gift certificates, but back then, they were shaped like little dollar bills, and so my Brother Matt and I called them "McDonald's Bucks!"

I think almost as much as using these certificates, I absolutely loved the smell of these little golden tickets!  The thick card stock the paper was printed on had its own unique smell, but more often than not, the gift certificates still smelled like the French fries they were stuffed next to in Mom or Dad's lunch from when they purchased them.  It was heavenly, and I can still recall the smell exactly as it was 30 years later.

As I mentioned, today, these are either digital or credit card-style gift cards, but the excitement of having a booklet of 5 or 10 McDonald's Bucks was almost too much.  Back in those days, we didn't eat out very often—usually a Friday dinner or Saturday lunch.  But once my brother and I had these McDonald's Bucks, we could use them WHEN we wanted and for WHAT we wanted.

I've been asking around, and it seems these aren't being given out as much, even in the current "Arch Card" form.  My wife tells me that gift cards are seen as a bit tacky or thoughtless, but personally, I'd love a gift card over a gift I didn't really want. 

McDonald's also seemingly doesn't even offer them as a Christmas or holiday season promotion any longer.  Probably, the health-related backlash against fast foods these days has made it no longer acceptable to give children a gift that gives me such wonderful memories.

To be honest, I don't even remember really actually buying food with the gift certificates, the memories are more the excitement on Christmas morning of seeing them in my stocking.  I'm sure we spent them because I remember on occasion saying to my Mother "Hey Ma, I have $3 left in McDonald's Bucks... can we go get a Happy Meal?"

Like most things in my childhood, receiving a gift and then making hundreds of different plans in my head about how and what I'd spend it on was much more exciting than actually using it.  

They were advertised around other holidays as well.  We only ever got them for Christmas but I do remember them being offered and advertised around Halloween.

Did you ever get the joy of "McDonald's Bucks" in your Christmas stocking?