Ah, Christmas. That wonderful time of year set aside for best wishes, good cheer and brawls at the local Walmart.

I am not a fan of shopping, so I certainly do not understand why anyone would be prepared to get up at 4 a.m., line up in the freezing cold and then fight 300 other people just to be first through the door at a store. I can think of far more fun ways to lose my front teeth — playing hockey, for example.

I especially don’t understand the furor, given what’s usually being flogged off. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the things I’ve spotted for sale over the years:

Playmobil Hazard Crew — This toy, presumably intended for children, comes complete with two little figurines dressed in Hazmat suits, a road barricade and a cute little barrel of toxic waste. I wonder what you’d put on the tag for this gift? “Dear Junior: Here is a lasting reminder of the environmental legacy I plan to leave for you. Love, Mom.”

McDonald’s Toy Cash Register — This kit includes a cash register, play money, plastic food (!) and a headset for play drive-through service. Nothing like feeling your parents have set low career goals for you early on.

Doggy Doo Christmas Ornaments — Yes, really. Little tree ornaments shaped like piles of dog mess. Do people send these things to neighbours they hate? To dog owners as a reminder to stop and scoop? Or do they decorate their own trees with it? Note to self: do not read catalogue any further to find out which overall decorating theme this is supposed to fit into.

Secret Can Safe — These are packages made to look just like the cans of kitchen cleaner we buy at the store, only they’re empty. You’re meant to hide your money and valuables in them, as demonstrated by the pictures of cans stuffed full of money, pearls, and rubies. I’m sure anyone who has a pile of rubies will gladly pay $5.95 for a replica can, because it has ever so many more security features than the $2.99 version you can get from your grocery store.

Opoly — Monopoly sales last year must have been disappointing. I say this because I have am seen countless new versions of the game, perhaps offered in a bid to revive the franchise. There’s Catopoly (purrfect your strategy), Dogopoly (go directly to jail, do not paws at Go), U.S. Marines-opoly (storm the luxury beachfront properties), NFL-opoly (take a punt on a punt), Simpsons-opoly (Doh!), and Bible-opoly (presumably an usury free version of the game). And because no trend will leave another unturned, there also is Texas Hold ‘Em-opoly.

Yoda Bobblehead — I often wonder what the factory workers in China, where most things are manufactured these days, must think of Western society. When I see things like Yoda bobbleheads, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know.

Giant Poseable Cockroach — For that hard-to-buy-for person on your list who already has a small, non-poseable cockroach.

Secret Water Bottle Safe — This is for those discerning homeowners with piles of diamonds as well as rubies. The safe is a plastic water bottle with a secret compartment hidden behind its fake label. You can even fill the top of the bottle with water to “complete the deception.” It will work fine until your fitness-happy neighbour stops by after a jog and helps himself to a cold drink from your fridge.

Edible Body Deodorant — I. Am. So. Not. Going. There.

Cell Phone Voice Changer — A small device that changes your voice as you talk into your cell phone. This is so when you crash your car into a telephone pole, the EMS personnel can look into your car and say, “No Fred, this isn’t our call out. We’re looking for a male about 53 and this is a woman of about 28.”

My advice? Stick to giving out Christmas cakes. They are statement-neutral, usually taste good, and are biodegradable and recyclable. And if you let one go stale, it makes an excellent weapon for defending that stash of precious gemstones in the fridge.


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