Ah, Thanksgiving has come and gone and you know what that means… Christmas is upon us! Joy to the Well To Do! Unbridled gluttony has been let off its leash.
For the one guy who has never seen A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV, which explains what December 25th is supposed to be, the annual pagan rite can guarantee one thing, obesity, a whoppin’ good hangover and a whole lotta stuff. Okay, that’s three things. Who’s counting? ‘Tis the Season to be indulgent.
Sadly, it’s not all plum pudding. There are drawbacks.
Now I had considered writing a gift-giving guide for The Master Decider. When Dubya told the Shopping Mall Santa that he wanted to another war, I had a fit. “No! Not another war. I told you that if you broke the first one Santa gave you, there would not be another next year. You’ve gone and broken two, that’s enough!” Besides, a war does not fit in a stocking or under a tree.
But what do you get the man who has everything? Well… nothing really. Why bother? Whatever it is, he’s got one already, if not more. Oh all right, a Republican Congress would be nice. Maybe the repeal of the two-term limit would lengthen his crooked smile Christmas morn. Or possibly orange jumpsuits complete with hoods and muzzles for Helen Thomas, Maureen Dowd, Seymour Hersh, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and Bill Maher to wear on their top secret midnight flight to an unknown tropical vacation spot? We know our beloved leader would adore Keith Olberman to shut up. It is to be regretted that UPS refuses to deliver Osama bin Laden to locations within the contiguous borders of the U.S. Maybe he’s not properly wrapped.
But I say, Bah Humbug! I ain’t even getting The Big W an audio cassette of My Pet Goat (as read by Clint Eastwood) or an inflatable Katherine Harris doll. Nope nothing! Tough (deleted expletive) Mr. President.
I’m here to help out the working stiff, regular Joe and Jill with real pounders in the morning, a herd of sugar-high kids bouncing off the walls, and heap of stuff that won’t fit in the garage. I’m talking about unwanted gifts!
You know what I mean. We all give them; and we all get them. It’s part of the tradition, full of disappointment and heartache like opening "The Biggie" hiding behind the tree only to discover there’s Democratic Congress inside! There goes that agenda… maybe. Let’s face it. Santa knows who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Regrettably, most of us fit in the former category. Not even Santa’s elves are blameless: What do you think they actually do most of the year living within the Arctic Circle? China makes all the toys now. They suck down wood alcohol as medicinal anti-freeze like there’s no tomorrow… which may be true. What would you do?
So you can bet your bottom dollar there will be some objet trouve tucked under the tree. There’s no point in being huffy over it. It’s tradition. Dear Aunt Ethel may be a Screaming Mimi when it comes to gift giving. But her heart is in the right place, so kiss her on the cheek as you pour her another jigger of Old Crow. And maybe a good stiff belt for yourself too.
When you receive an abominable gift what to do? Let me see if I can help. I’ve been down this road once or twice.
Chia Pet from Dear Aunt Ethel? Gotcha. We’ve all had at least one and some of you good folks may have received the dreaded Chia Homer Simpson Head! Guess you’re not supposed to water it. This is an easy disposal. Re-wrap it and give it to some other unlucky member of the family next year. They’ll be expecting it anyway. And if Dear Aunt Ethel is as loony as I suspect, just give it back to her. She’ll probably be thrilled. After all, she bought it for you because she wanted one herself. See how easy that is? Of course you do have to store it for a year. But aside from being a nifty place for the kids to hide in, that’s what that rusted out ice box on the front porch is for.
A pair of Pink Plastic Garden Flamingos? Write me! Mine washed away in a hurricane and now they’re extinct! My heart is broken. I’m serious here, no joke. If you get a pair, in decent condition, email me and we’ll talk turkey. I’ll pay real money… within reason, including shipping.
Talking Ann Coulter doll hiding in your stocking? Bummer. That sucks. Hey, it might look nice but unfortunately… it talks. Don’t put it in your mouth! You don’t know where it’s been. And, don’t let your kids play with it unless they need a target for their new Red Rider BB gun. Sure hope nobody pulls her string during Christmas dinner! How to get rid of it? Don’t ask the Democrats, they’ve tried and failed. So, this is what you do: Walk outside, look for the house on your block with the biggest American flag and the largest gas-guzzling pickup truck. Then, when the sun goes down, sneak up and lean it up against the pickup’s window. Next morning when your neighbor leaves for work at the at L’Elegance de Paris tattoo parlour he’ll find it. Trust me, he’ll be thrilled.
Your husband bought you a Victoria’s Secret Diamond Fantasy Bra? Ouch! That nasty thing will cut and bind. What’s wrong with silk or cotton? The thing is a useless piece of (vernacular unacceptable). Those diamonds are just going to pop off and get into everything anyway. Do you really want to go digging through the vacuum bag for them? Wear it for him once and then throw it in the trash where it belongs. What do you think Heidi Klum did with hers?
It wouldn’t be Christmas without "battery operated sound and light." Who gave the hard-to-find Star Trek Transporter Chamber Christmas Tree Ornament to Granny? "Press a button and shimmering lights will give the appearance that characters are beaming on and off the deck. Attach to light clip for additional lighting effect." You wanna bet Granny will dispatch that to Dick Cheney next year along with a DVD copy of Star Trek: The Doomsday Machine.
The next little goodie under the tree turns out to be a pair of discontinued Corona Beer Can Slippers still in their QVC box. Don’t make me sick with your whining and bellyaching! They make excellent tools for waxing the car or degreasing the engine. How do you think I maintain that show car look on my Dive Master Special Jeep?
What’s this? A first edition of Stamp Collecting for Dummies signed by Gary Burghoff? Somebody’s been cleaning out their basement. This calls for some payback. Mark this special person down for a DVD of The Call of the Wild starring Charlton Heston next year!
Oh how thoughtful! A gift certificate for dinner for two at the most fattening restaurant in the Western Hemisphere: Sodolack’s Original Country Inn, Snook, Texas (the home of chicken-fried bacon!). Send this to the U.N. Oil-for-Food program.
Still feeling hungry? How about that stylish wooden box containing "vintage" salmon wrapped in foil? One solution… dogs and cats. Hey, they’re part of the family too even if they do smell bad. They deserve some Christmas cheer and they sure as hell ain’t getting the kind I got in my bottle of 90 proof, Old Rip van Winkle. You know what they say, Old Rip takes up where Prozac leaves off.
Your pets might be gauche and prefer the dead fish to the Argyle cashmere vest for Fido from the Neiman Marcus Christmas book, pages 82—83. Whoever sent it thinks Pup Dawg will look tres chic wearing this as he lifts his leg in Starbucks. Unfortunately, the gift giver failed to remember that Mommy’s-darling-precious Shih Tzu (please pronounce responsibly) is allergic to wool. Tell you what, use it as a potholder… if you can stomach it. Personally, I’d let my hounds, Nimrod and Little Brain, fight over it, preferably with Darling-Precious still inside.
Oh, how sweet. Someone’s given your six-year-old son, his very own perfume. "Goofy" was created by that chic fashion house… Disney. Touted as "an all-day fragrance for boys," Goofy reeks charm with notes of bergamot, orange and vanilla woods. Whatever happened to snips and snails and puppy dog tails… and filthy gym socks? Hey, use this stuff to strip the barnacles off your boat not the scabs off you son from the school beating he’s going to get if he wears it.
And surprise, surprise Dear Aunt Ethel found you a what? A Pet Rock? Oh… she does so love antiques! That little gem must have been languishing in a forgotten nook for decades. Hey, wait a minute! This one has your front door key in it! Dang, funny how things turn up. Aunt Ethel is a bit of a klepto. Well, you don’t have to have the brain of The Shrub to know where to toss this little baby! Back into your own garden where Ethel found it or… Ebay! Believe me, if you can stand the hassle, you can dump almost any worthless piece of refuse off on Ebay.
Winnie and Earl, your long-avoided cousins from Kentucky always send something unique. You can bet the pink slip to your ’69 Camaro that this year it will be the "America Remembers! Elvis Presley Taking Care of Business Tribute Revolver." As shown in the December 26 issue of American Rifleman, the gun is one of only 500 pieces. And get this, "each working Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver is decorated in 24-carat gold and nickel artwork, and the special "TCB" logo Elvis shared with his friends." How the heck did those two worthless bums lay their hands on this little baby? Better not to ask. Gee, maybe you’ll keep this one. Ya never know when you might need to take care of some business.
Then there’s that parcel with battered wrapping and a missing card. Who knows what may be inside? Better call Homeland Security before it blows. Naw, why bother? Rip it open. Lo and behold: a jar of jam. The Food Fascist in the family blurts out: "Better read the ingredients before you slap it on that Pop Tart." Okay, Okay, …What is this stuff anyway? "The Fine Cut Seville Orange Marmalade with Whisky, Champagne and Gold mixes the finest Seville fruit with vintage Dalmore 62 whisky from Whyte & Mackay (valued at 32,000 per bottle), topped off with a splash of Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 1996 vintage champagne and garnished with flakes of 24-carat gold leaf." What the Hell!? Turns out that for your loyal support of the GOP, Ken Mehlman has sent you "the world’s most expensive marmalade." Damn… I’d really rather have some strawberry preserves. Maybe Nimrod and Little Brain will like it on their stinky "vintage" fish.
Oh check this one out! Your mother-in-law has given your spouse a copy of If I Did It by O.J. Simpson! Yeah, I know the publisher decided to pull it. So just where did the old battle ax find this treasure…? The scary thing is that your beloved likes this little "how to" book! Oh man, that’s gotta go onto the Yule log pronto! What’s this? You’re afraid you’ll get killed for disposing of it? Don’t be an idiot! You’re going to be killed if you don’t dispose of it!
And all the other stuff? It can just go to the dump… er excuse me… landfill… or… Next year’s tree! But do not toss out those Pink Garden Flamingos! Those are mine!
Elizabeth Gyllensvard edited and contributed to this story.
Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean.