The Christmas snapshot is etched indelibly in my mind.

There we were, my two brothers and I, sitting on the floor in front of my grandparents' Christmas tree. I was holding a Baby Party doll, my older brother Greg was dressed in a striped shirt and bolo tie clutching a View Master and a set of "Land of the Giants" reels, and my little brother Ed was cuddling a stuffed animal.It was one of the most memorable Christmases of my life. My parents gave me a toy I absolutely coveted and we had to eat Christmas dinner by candlelight because there was a power outage that day.

Though my brothers got their fair share of gifts, Baby Party was the most fascinating toy any of us received that year. In addition to her primary duties as companion and confidante, she was equipped with a battery-powered air pump that enabled her to blow balloons and soap bubbles or toot a noisemaker.

Doubtless, she was the most popular gift in my household that year. None of us had ever seen anything like her. Even my brothers, who pretended not be be interested in "girl stuff," took turns helping Baby Party blow balloons.

The fascination continued long after Christmas. By summer, Greg could no longer contain himself. With my permission, Baby Party underwent "exploratory surgery" so Greg could ascertain how she was able to blow up balloons.

Greg carefully removed her breathing apparatus, but for some reason, she was not restored to her original state. And it probably wouldn't have mattered if she had been. Her magic died on the operating table (or was it a cardboard box?)

I thought a lot about Baby Party as I perused the toy advertisements in my Thanksgiving Day newspaper. By today's standards, Baby Party wouldn't have much to offer.

Take Baby Sparkles for example. She lights up when she gets a kiss.

What child should be without Newborn Baby Shivers? She shivers if you remove her gown but stops when she's hugged or dressed. Perhaps she reinforces the message you should wear your coat when it's cold outside, or at the very least, wear clothes.

There are a few dolls for sale this Christmas that I would consider traditional. They drink from bottles and wet their diapers. Pretty novel stuff, right?

However, Baby Alive "really eats." Then it's time to check her diaper. Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Baby Uh-Oh drinks and wets but dip her "dirty" diapers in warm water and they're clean again. All I want to know is why don't they market these diapers for real babies?

There are dolls that cry tears, bop to music and grow hair. They crawl and talk, dance and disrobe. Disrobe? More correctly, their clothes dissolve. Magic Nursery Toddler is a soft body doll whose outfit dissolves in water to reveal the baby's gender and a brand-new fashion. Advertisements say it's intended for children age 3 and up.

How about those newborn dolls that are anatomically correct and come complete with a severed umbilical cord?

Call me old fashioned, but I don't believe children need anatomically correct dolls. They grow up fast enough, don't they?

I mean, whatever happened to plain old baby dolls that don't eat, wet or talk? Their needs are simple, just an occasional hug, kiss or cuddle. No batteries necessary.

Me, I'll take a Baby Party any day, with or without the pump.