I do try to like Christmas, I really do. It is, after all, supposed to be a time for getting together with family and friends, eating good food, and giving gifts.
But boy, do North American stores make it hard.
For starters, every year, the retail push starts earlier and earlier. No sooner is the Halloween stuff packed away, then the Santaware is hauled out, and stores plaster signs on every surface, with the stern warning: Only 1118 Days Until Christmas 2007!
The malls start playing the All Christmas All the Time CD (staaaaaahp!), and the sale advertisements start running on the television and radio, at 30 second intervals, just to make sure there’s no chance of you ever forgetting what season is approaching.
The hardest thing though, is trying to keep a straight face when considering some of the items offered up as “Great gift ideas!” Consider the following (real!) gift suggestions and what they might say:
NHL towel, NHL clock, NHL mug, NHL doorstop: I couldn’t think what else to get you and this stuff is everywhere this Christmas, making it easy to buy. And besides, the hockey league could use… the… money. Hmm.
Three Stooges beer opener: I have succumbed to the idea that the ideal male is no longer epitomized by the image of a gentleman in a nice suit, polished shoes, and a well-rounded education. Instead it is a guy in sweatpants and a three-day growth of facial hair.
Closet organizer: I’ve been to your house and notice that it’s, um, not very tidy. This should help.
A book, Cooking for Dummies: I’ve been to your house, and notice that, um, you put the char in char-broiled. This should help.
Actually, any “For Dummies” book: I mean this in the best possible way, honest. Please don’t throw it at me.
Phone with large number keys: Call your mom more often, darnit.
Boxing alien puppet: I went shopping at 11:55 p.m. on December 24, and this is all they had left.
Lottery ticket gift pack: I know you’re not going to win the big one, but this looks like I mean well.
Fake winning lottery tickets: I don’t want to risk you winning the big one on tickets that I buy, and anyway I have a sadistic sense of humour.
Pope Innocent III action figure: I know you go to church and stuff and this is, well, kinda churchy. And he’s got this cool hat.
Shower gels, soap, powders: This could mean any number of things like 1) I want you to smell better than you do now. 2) I want you to smell like a large vat of flowers. 3) I want you to smell like a large vat of tree oil. 4) You’re a girl and I’m told this is, you know, something girls like. Plus it’s cheaper than jewellery.
Sea monkeys: I do my shopping from the back of comic books.
Barista action figure: This is my subtle way of pointing out that you drink way, way too much coffee.
Mars glow in the dark putty: I know you like reading those scientific magazines and Mars is scientific right? Or wait, does this have to do with the chocolate bar?
An exercise machine: This is my unsubtle way of pointing out that you drink way, way too many of those fatty latte coffees. Please note I gave you an exercise machine and not free weights because I didn’t want to be hit with them. I also plan to be out of the room when you open this one.
A subscription to a humour column: This shows that I have excellent taste and my sole purpose in giving this is to spread laughter and cheer – the best gift – during the Christmas season.
What’s the worst gift you have ever received? Tell us a good story in the comments!