A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Is it too early to talk about Christmas? Three weeks? I think not.
Over the years, I’ve gotten some totally cool Christmas presents. I’m talking about stuff that would humble a lesser man. However, every couple of years, like everybody else who keeps a more-or-less traditional Christmas, I’ve gotten some of the stupidest presents on record. These majestically inappropriate pieces of junk have come from everybody from casual acquaintances (who felt obligated to buy me “something”) to my mother. And every one of them has literally screamed WTF!
They say “Christmas is about giving” and “It’s the thought that counts.” So in the spirit of these homespunisms I’ve put together a list (in no particular order) of the worst possible Christmas gifts. And don’t be confused: these are not just ha-ha-ha, bad gifts these are gifts no person should ever give another human being at Christmas – like never!
Diet Books — Nothing says, “I think you’re fat” faster than Fergie’s 30 Day Cheesecake Diet or How to Lose Weight and Influence People. I don’t care how BFF you might think you are, suggesting people are porkers — at any time of the year — is a major faux pas.
Esoteric Cooking Utensils — Those “funky” housewares shops that all the Urban Professionals rave about are loaded with these little gadgets – melon ballers, orange zesters, corn cob holders and on and on. The problem is most of these things are useless, and some of them are so specialized that even Cordon Bleu French Chefs have no idea what they’re used for. Giving these to your friends will only turn them into a pack of liars. “No! Really! I use it all the time.”
Homemade Crap — Unless your name is Martha Stewart or Norm Abrams, don’t even go there. Your friends will feel obligated to display it or use it and then, after they throw it in the trash, will never invite you to their house again — in case you notice.
Obvious Re-gifts — Somebody is going to guess that Seinfeld: The Complete 5th Season with Bonus Blooper DVD was something you got for your birthday several years ago – especially when it doesn’t have the cellophane on it and the itty bitty Puffy Shirt is missing.
The Book of Awesome, in any of its incarnations. This kid was the Jason (Justin?) Bieber of written pop culture, and no matter how trendy you might think he still is, even the yard sales aren’t taking his nonsense anymore.
Fruit Cake — My mother once gave me a fruit cake. I gave it to a friend who said he liked fruit cake. He didn’t really like fruit cake; he was just being polite. He gave it to his sister in Philadelphia. She passed in on to an ex-roommate at Chapel Hill. As far as I know, it has since been travelling around the southern United States like some seasonal Flying Dutchman — forever cursed to wander the Earth until Judgement Day when anyone who ever touched it is doomed.
Any tech stuff with an apple on it — First of all, that crap costs three times as much as anything else on the market that’s twice as good. Secondly, by the time you get it wrapped and under the tree, Apple will have already introduced a newer version that’s two nano-millimetres shorter. Thirdly, whatever you buy will have exactly the same functions as the thing the person already owns. And finally, Apple is living on lawsuits and its reputation; the creative light went out of that company a couple of years ago.
Seasonal Attire — While I agree that nothing says Christmas like the cable-knit Santa Claus sweater vest, it’s not your job to make your brother-in-law look like a jackass. His mother-in-law will do that for you. And the candy cane thong thing is just wrong.
Anything from the “Awesome Gifts for Under $20.00” list — Two scented candles or an acrylic peppermill are the best way I know of bluntly telling people they’re over the horizon in your social circle. Rather than emphasizing the point, you’re better off just sending a card and leaving it at that.
Oversized Art Books — Once called coffee table books, these dinosaurs haven’t been in vogue since Rob and Laura Petrie got divorced. They are the ultimate pain in the ass because they’re too nice to just throw away and too “oversized” to fit on any book shelf. So they end up cluttering up the living room and your friends look like your dumbass cousins who “casually” leave “smart” books hanging around — even though they think Vettriano is an after-dinner wine.
Finally, and most importantly, never, under any circumstances, give your dog, cat, budgie or iguana, reindeer antlers, elf hats or Santa Claus beards. This is just cruel. Your pets don’t know it’s Christmas, and they trust you not to make them appear foolish. If you do, you are exactly the kind of power-mad Grinch Christmas was put on this Earth to eliminate. Furthermore, I hope you get nothing in your stocking but diet books and fruit cake.
Christmas is a time for giving. With a little forethought and these simple guidelines your gift could be the talk of the turkey table. Only three weeks left.