They say smell is the strongest trigger for memory.
While the smell of Mom's freshly baked, gooey, chocolate chip cookies might take you back to the day you ran screaming into the kitchen that you won the Little League championship, there is nothing quite like seeing an old toy to cause you to reminisce about the good ol' days.
As kids, we pored over those big Christmas catalogs, beginning to form our list in July of the newest toys and gadgets we just had to have. Years later, these toys are but a fond memory every time we dig through our old toy chest, cleaning it out in an attempt to make room for our latest obsessions.
Sadly, many of these toys we teens had as kids have disappeared. Some are gone for good while others have been reborn for today's children to enjoy, such as the Furby. Others have been around a while, and still captivate children today, such as Barbie.
One of the toys I remember absolutely loving as a child was the Skip-It, a short jump rope attached to a plastic hoop that went around your ankle. This toy took me a while to master, mainly because I was still fairly young and therefore uncoordinated when I first discovered it in my grandparents' hall closet.
Nonetheless, I would take the Skip-It outside, swing it to get it started, and get a successful hop or two in before the momentum died. Bruises and raw skin remained around my ankles for a while, until I gave the jump rope up for a short spell.
A few years later, a wave of determination overcame me and I was resolved to figure out the trick to use the Skip-It correctly. I had to have my aunt -- who was the actual original owner of the toy -- show me how it was done, and before long, I had mastered the seemingly impossible Skip-It.
Stuffed animals were huge in my childhood as well. Nothing could quite compare to the comfort a small teddy bear, stuffed cat, dog or any other animal could provide. They were there to fight off the nightmares that threatened the peaceful sleep, listen with perfect understanding any time you had a problem, or just to snuggle with when you wanted.
Collections of animals grew quickly with every passing year, yet there always seemed to be one there, no matter how old, tarnished or ripped up it may be. Our parents would try in vain to remove the seemingly disgusting old toy without our knowledge, yet somehow, we would find out and the soft animal would regain its rightful spot underneath our covers.
Trading cards and dolls were another priceless toy of our childhood.
Whether it was Yu-Gi-Oh! or Pokemon, Bratz or Barbies, nearly everyone had a preference. Fierce battles were waged, each owner holding tightly to the card they hoped would seal them the victory for the day. Cards were traded, each player hoping to get rid of the lower values and collect the highest rank of monster.
Dolls were used to inspire our creative side, going on daring spy missions, overcoming any challenge we dreamed about, or simply living out the fantasies we hoped to experience as we grew older. Looking back, these toys bring back fond memories, and perhaps, a slight desire to experience them once again.
Virtual pets were another craze of our childhood. Such pets, like the Tamagotchi, raised a small awareness of responsibility. These digital pets had to be kept happy and well-cared for. If they were not, the owner of the pet was faced with the horrific possibility that the animal they so cared for would die. These pets could produce "offspring" and continue the family line, or, in the sad event that the pet died, the owner had the choice of restarting the game, hoping it would go better this time.
Of course, there were also countless other toys and games that provided hours of entertainment, such as the board game Guess Who?, or games like Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots and Operation.
All these games and toys have, in a small part, defined our childhood. In a world that is changing so fast and where the pressure to grow up becomes stronger, it's nice to take a step back and reflect on the simple things that brought us so much joy. Maybe we can embrace our inner child again and relive the memories we have so cherished.
Meghan Jones is a senior at Bonneville High School. She enjoys writing, photography and hanging out with friends. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.