Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

I love Christmas, I love gift shopping, I love gift wrapping, I love Mariah Carey and I'm happy "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is the #8 song in the country despite the fact that it is 13 years old, I love Christmas lights, and I love my $11.99 Christmas tree that went up the week before Thanksgiving.

I hate gift guides.

I am so completely sick of every SINGLE magazine publishing a useless list of things to buy "Mom," or "Dad," or "Her," all of which belong in quotes because none of the gifts suggested are actually for Mom, they're for the idea of Mom, some nebulous Mom-in-theory who opens presents on Christmas in Nantucket in an L.L. Bean turtleneck. "Mom" loves beaded wine glass markers so her guests don't get their glasses confused at her cocktail parties. My mom would re-gift a present like that so quickly she wouldn't even finish unwrapping it before she was slapping on a new bow.

I read a particularly stupid gift guide this morning in a free New York magazine that broke down its terrible gifts by price: splurges, sensible gifts, and some other assonant version of the word "cheap" I can't currently recall. But there were wonderful suggestions like getting your roommate a flat screen tv, a pair of personalized booty shorts, or a plant. See? Isn't that helpful? I had no idea what to get Brad, but thanks to these fantastic suggestions I could either bankrupt myself, make him a lady, or disappoint him. Christmas morning is going to be AWESOME.

What do you get "the kid" if you don't have a lot of cash? A walk in the park, says the magazine. Seriously. That is a serious suggestion. My brother, age 22, is still bitter that he did not receive the Lego monorail kit when he was 6 years old. He has, however, received the following as Christmas presents over the years: the Ghostbusters firehouse, the Ninja Turtles Technodrome, Ninja Turtles Subterranean Sewer Hockey, the Micromachines garage, original Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, whatever came after that, XBox, Playstation, Playstation 2, I believe, and any number of handheld, hard to find at Christmas, expensive, instantly obsolete video game systems. I doubt a walk in the motherfucking park is the salve his broken heart would've needed to heal.

What do you get the party host you don't know? Well, off the top of my head, there are three things you would EVER bring to a person you don't know: wine, chocolate, flowers. But see, the gift guide suggests completely creative, out of the box gifts like, for example, wine! Or chocolate! Or, get this: flowers.

The whole point of giving a present to someone is to say yes, hi, I appreciate your contribution to my life, but also, more importantly, I think, to say I get you enough to be able to buy you something without you telling me what that thing should be. That is why bad presents are so particularly awful. The Little Mermaid sweater your grandmother got you when you were in SIXTH GRADE and already completely uncool isn't just terrible on it's own merits; the crap cupcake is iced with the sad fact that your grandma doesn't get you at all.

I may not always get people stuff they love to bits, but at least I don't usually get them something that doesn't transcend the concept of "gift": the blank book, the candle, the holiday-scented Bath & Body Works products.

And if it were up to me, nebulous gift-guide "Mom" would get a bottle of Jack Daniels, because anyone who wants a gift whose sole purpose is to let her better entertain other people could really use a big, selfish, crying bender.
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