Sunday, December 02, 2012

Win One for the Gifter

It is about this time each year that we come face to face with the stunning reality that there are a scant few weeks until Christmas. And there is massive shopping to be done.

I say this secure in the knowledge that none of my readers would stoop so low as to participate in Black Friday, a combination grueling endurance/full body contact event that collectively lowers this country’s IQ each year in late November.

To help in this time of crisis, I’ve come up with my own unique gifts for that so-hard-to-buy-for person on your holiday list. Consider:

Fiscal cliff action figures. Watch as facsimiles of actual politicians tumble into a sea of red ink. Hours of educational fun for the kids and paranoia for their parents.

Sell Like a Seal board game. Players role the dice to see who can survive rigorous training and be selected for dangerous missions. The winning player kills a hated enemy of the state, then cashes in on a book deal worth millions. Code of silence not included.

Mitt Romney desk calendar. Each day contains another excuse for why he lost the election.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Magic Set: Amaze your friends and family by throwing all your money into Facebook stock, then watch it disappear.

Don’t tickle me Elmo. Self explanatory.

Lance Armstrong bracelets: We’ve slightly altered the inscriptions from “Live Strong” to “Live Wrong” to more accurately reflect his accomplishments. Buy one get 50 free.

I jest, of course. But truth is stranger than fiction when you begin to peruse what’s for sale this season.

One Internet site offers an inflatable fruit cake, Freudian slippers, Blitzed'n , the Singing Drunken Reindeer and a Santa Claus oven mitt. Another offers vampire repelling garlic mints and a Titanic ice maker.

Bacon is big this year. For your giving or receiving pleasure, there are bacon candy canes and lollipops, bacon flavored dental floss, Mr. Bacon vs. Monsieur Tofu action figures, bacon lip balm and bacon Band-Aids.

Stepping up in class but just a bit, another site offers tipsy wine glasses that lean to the side, seven cocktail glasses each adorned with one of the Seven Deadly Sins, Flavors of America salt collection (not appropriate for your cardiologist) and bracelets made of guitar strings (perfect for the person who is wound too tight).

These are novelties to be sure. But it got me to thinking: what are the best selling Christmas gifts of all time?

The answer is easy: toys. A conservative estimate is that 2 million are sold each Christmas season. I say conservative because I think I remember assembling at least that many on never-ending Christmas eves when my kids were young.

The hottest offerings this year, according to Toys R Us, include the Doc McStuffins "Time for Your Checkup Doll,” featuring a child who emulates her doctor mother by doing physicals on her stuffed animals. She is female and African American meaning the manufacturers have won the political correctness trophy for this season. Next is the Furbie, billed as an interactive doll that develops a mind of its own which prepares your child for marriage; the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Secret Sewer Lair Playset which sounds like a joke but isn’t; and various electronic gizmos that assure your child will be completely computer literate before he or she is walking.

Over in Europe the push is for gender neutral toys. One of the largest toy chains in Sweden published a gender-neutral Christmas catalogue, which pictured boys playing with dolls and girls holding toy machine guns.

This stroke of genius will produces a generation of nurturing men and violent women who will confuse role reversal with equality.

Those cutting edge Swedes are even considering a new single gender-neutral pronoun – 'hen' – to replace 'he' and 'she' in order to minimize gender stereotyping. In this country, however, a hen is either a female fowl or a gossipy and foolish woman. Either way, I wouldn’t throw the term around at a National Organization for Women board meeting.

But back to Christmas gifts. Don’t fret if you can’t find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. You could do a lot worse. Feast on this survey taken by the New York Times several years ago on the worst Christmas gifts their readers had ever received.

“My grandmother gave me a large, brown stuffed toad that she bought in Guatemala. I was about 14 years old.”

“A Harrah’s Casino coffee mug full of quarters given to me by my grandparents. The mug read, ‘Life begins at 21!’ I was 9.”

“One year my elderly great-aunt game me a box of straws and my sister received a tube of mustard. This remains a longstanding family joke nearly 60 years later.”

“My worst: a rifle-toting, battery-powered toy soldier that crawled along the floor on his elbows. I was at least 32 and it was my ex-wife who gave it to me.”

“My father came home from New York City with a big gift when I was 8. It turned out to be a sturdy blue suitcase with my initials in gold by the handle. I was worried from then on when I was going to be sent away.”

“…My brothers sometime in the 1950s received an air gun and shot the ornaments off the revolving aluminum Christmas tree.”

“When my sister was newly divorced for the second time and completely miserable, our mother gave her a cookbook called “Cooking for One” and some sort of individual crockpot to go with it.”

Come to think of it, friends and family are the greatest gifts of all. Enjoy them.

No comments: