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Can you really go wrong if your holiday gift is simple but filled with love? Don’t kid yourself.
By Jim Kempton
Red alert! There are only five more shopping days until Christmas. For husbands this means four more days till we have to start shopping. The holiday season is upon us once again. For many Americans it is a time of deep religious commitment, which millions observe by faithfully attending Black Friday at the local mall.
Most of my men friend’s complaints about shopping are long-standing, but the real dilemma is what to get people who already seem to have everything. One article not to give them is a Christmas sweater. It is only acceptable to give something that hideous if you are doing a family intervention. Reyn Spooner Christmas shirts are an exception. They are forgiven for always including a surfing Santa or something else so daft it excuses itself. The problem in Orange County is that many of the dads here have an entire closet full of these perennial collectables.
Of course there are always food options to give as gifts. A great thing to get people who are dieting is one of those god-awful fruitcakes. Preferably one you received last Christmas, but haven’t even unwrapped. At least they won’t be tempted to eat it. Another benefit is that they can be given again next year by the person you sent it to. In fact there are rumors of people receiving holiday fruitcakes that have been circulating for years. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. And then there is cheese. Nothing says holidays like a big, fat, plastic-encased cheese log.
Regarding the inescapable holiday party invitations—please don’t select Eggnog as your contribution when the host says “just bring something to drink.” What temporary insanity inspired us to celebrate Christmas by mixing rum and raw egg yolks? It’s as silly as highly flammable trees (right next to the fireplace) strung with faulty strands of cheap “made in China” electrical lights wrapped around rickety branches full of dried pine needles.
Kids gifts are easier—what kid wouldn’t want Razor Crazy Cart Spinning Go Kart at $349? Keep in mind though, that spending extra on the very best toys may be a waste of time. According to a survey, of all the presents received at Christmas, one in 10 will be broken by the New Year, only 40 percent will make it to March and just a quarter will be intact by next Christmas. There is a reliable scientific theorem that has proven the expensive gifts will always be in the group that breaks before the spring thaw.
Another tip: Don’t get batteries when purchasing anything electronic. A set of batteries can sometimes cost more than the item it charges. Then again, one of my friends told me he gets batteries wrapped as a present with a card that says “toys not included.”
Of course by now you are wondering: is there going to be a hint about what not to buy for the ladies? Forget it. If I knew the answer to that quandary I wouldn’t be writing newspaper columns. Merry Christmas.
Jim Kempton, a surfer and writer living in San Clemente, will sneak out for a Christmas morning surf before enjoying eggnog, fruitcake and a couple of cheese logs while unwrapping Christmas sweaters and expensive toys with his family and friends.