For some it’s dolls to add their collections. For others it’s a $500 video game system or the newest iPhone with all the upgrades. For many it’s a staple, like a new pair of shoes or a backpack.
The gifts that children want this year run the gamut from the simple to the very expensive. But for others, it’s not about a material item, but about companionship or love.
At schoolyards, strip malls, shopping thoroughfares, in restaurants, and in their homes, an unscientific sampling of Hudson County’s youth, aged 4 to 14, uncovered myriad responses to what gift would bring a smile to each child’s face this holiday.
North Bergen and Guttenberg
You can never have enough Barbie dolls, according to Nyla Acosta, 8, of Guttenberg, a student at the town’s Anna Klein School. She already has five, including Hershey Barbie and Beach Barbie.
“I like Barbie the best, because of the cars and the houses you can also get,” she said. “They’re more fun to play with.”
She has a Barbie house and wants to fill it up with tenants.
“My Barbie house is vacant,” Nyla said. “I want more Barbies.”
Nyla’s schoolmate and friend, Daisy Marin, 9, said, “I want to spend more time with family.”
She is an only child whose parents opened a restaurant, Good Eats, in their town of Guttenberg three years ago. While the business has been successful, it has had other, unintended effects, like 80-plus hour weeks for Daisy’s parents.
“I used to go shopping with mom,” Daisy said. “Now I don’t get to do as much with them.”
“We used to spend all day Saturday and Sunday with her,” her mother, Maria, said. “But now I’m here seven days and don’t get to spend that time with her.”
“I want to do things together like bake and make cookies,” Daisy said.
Jaela Rodriguez, 5, of North Bergen desires play things like many of her compatriots, just not the same exact ones.
“I want Lalaloopsy dolls,” said the young cheerleader during a competition at North Bergen High School. “They have different kinds of dolls. I have four of them. I want two more.”
Union City and West New York
Ariana Lopez, 8, of Union City was clear when it came to her ideal Christmas gift: “I always wanted to get a ‘Monster High’ doll, and her name is Catty Noir. She’s a singer, and she comes with a microphone. She has a pink microphone, and she’s pink, and her skin is black, and she’s a cat.”
Not stopping there with the Monster High series, the Roosevelt School student said she wants a form of transportation with the show logo also.
“I want the scooter too,” she said. “I really love it. It’s for me. It’s the Monster High scooter. So I’ll go around the block with it.”
For Selena Garcia, 12, also of Union City, it’s all about keeping up with the times.
“I have a phone, but I don’t like it too much,” she said. “I want a new phone, an iPhone 5S.”
“It’s kind of like the same thing, like my phone, but it has upgrades,” said the Union Hill Middle School student. “It has better things, better camera, and stuff like that.”
For Nabetse Castro, 14, of West New York, it is all about technology too.
“A Mac or Toshiba, one or the other, that would be nice.” she said. “I have a lot of schoolwork. It would really help me out to have a laptop or computer.”
“I’d be able to look up art design, something I have a passion for,” Nabetse said. “I could listen to music, learn more history. Since I just learned about the Renaissance, I’d like to learn more about it.”
Eduardo Martinez, 9, of West New York, was in sync with Garcia and Castro in wanting technology for Christmas, but he had more fun in mind for his: an Xbox One.
“It’s just like a Playstation, stuff like that,” he said.
But you can’t have a game system without games to play on them, can you? Don’t worry, Eduardo has that covered too, listing FIFA soccer and the family of Super Mario cartridges high on his list.
“I like all of them,” he said. “I like the way he’s [Super Mario] animated.”
Emily Kern, 8, a student at the Huber Street School, was very specific when asked about her gift choice.
“Just Dance 2014, a Wii game, because I like to dance,” said Emily, who favors jazz and hip hop.
“That’s what she does – she’s been in dancing school since three,” said her mother, Sheila. “She’s got a 10-year-old sister, Alexis, and they’re constantly dancing at home.”
Secondarily, Emily said, “I would want a puppy, a Pomeranian, because it’s cute. I could give it a lot of love.”
For Sani Claros, 7, of Secaucus, it’s about making an upgrade.
“I want a ‘Ben-10 [Alien Force]’ backpack,” he said. “I have a regular backpack, but I like Ben-10,” Sani said of the television series character. “And I want a rolling one; it’s better.”
But if Santa can shell out a few more buckaroos, an Xbox 360 would work out just fine.
“This would be great, because my friends, they all play Minecraft,” Sani said. “I can play along with them online.”
Sani’s sister, Shakira, 9, a Clarendon School student, has her main gift already picked out: a Jansport blue backpack – no need for the rollers – light blue, and with polka dots. Not to be caught off guard, new purple sneakers would do the trick if her first choice was out of stock.
For youngsters here, Christmas means having the best projectile launcher, being more like dad, or entertaining others with their giddiness.
Brennen Cannata, 9 and a fourth grader at Roosevelt School, wants the Nerf Mega Centurion Blaster because he wants to shoot Styrofoam capsules farther than anyone else, and this one sends them up to 100 feet.
Failing that, he’d settle for an Xbox Live, a game system all his friends have.
“You connect with them and talk with them if you have a radio system,” Brennen said. “You can also play video games at the same time.”
Daniel Daly, also 9, is hoping for presents that he says will bring him closer to his buddy, his father.
“Since my dad likes football and I like the Giants team, I would like a cap that says ‘Giants’ on it and a football that says ‘Giants’ on it,” Daniel said. “Those are the two things I want. It’s important to have them, because it’s my favorite sport. I love to tackle, I love to throw, and I love to learn about it.”
Livyana Fritze, 4, a pre-kindergarten student at Daniel Webster School, is a little joker at heart. She wants a new toy guitar, because the one she has now doesn’t work.
“Yeah, I’d love it,” Livvy said. “Drums too. Then I’d play ‘God Bless America’ and ‘The Little Mermaid [theme].”
As her fallback, she’d settle for Monster High dolls.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.