The top 10 list this holiday season will deal with the seamier side of the holidays. Bad gifts and more bad behavior. I'm preparing a blog based on requests I have had, but I'm not done with it, and quite frankly it's not the right time for it. Instead I will reminisce once again on my own Christmas past as well as regale you with tales of others I have heard. Bad gifts and Bad responses. I don't mean for this blog to sound ungrateful, in fact, it's quite the opposite. I look back on the 'bad' gifts I have both received and given and for some reason they touch me to remember them now. The bad responses are the ones given around the holidays that seem to have a universal tone to them.
10. Moon Boots - I was around 12 years old or so and Christmas was going to be lean. I knew that. In fact it was the same year that I got one of my favorite Christmas presents mentioned in a past Christmas blog. The interesting thing about being a kid is that even though you may be aware of things going on around you, you really don't have any idea how they pertain to you. Mind you, my own father was a strong hand to the grindstone when it came to showing gratitude for even the most inane gifts, but it was hard for me to look at these giant clod hopper shoes from the 70's and show off a glowing visage of gratitude. I was growing to a rather uncomfortable height (6'1 by the time I was 12) and the LAST thing I really needed was something to make me look even clumsier. That being said, the real problem was these moon boots were bright white and yellow. They were everything a guy of 12 and rather tenuous self esteem could want. That same year a kid 1 year younger than me in age got a big bird snow hat, with a big bird head that was the pom pom on top. Suddenly I didn't feel so bad about my boots.
9. Dumb Holiday Jokes - Also usually but by no means exclusively uttered by 'clever' children, these holiday jokes range from the goofifying of Jingle Bells laced with lyrics about the questionable hygiene habits of the Caped Crusader to an already goofy song like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer...'like a light bulb' indeed. My own dad had a rather interesting holiday tradition that involved a joke with a pun at the end that ended 'Rudolph the Red knows reindeer'. Most of the differing versions were invented by him and each were appreciated with similar kudos. My favorite iteration involved a tourist couple that was being driven around Leningrad by a gregarious cabby named Rudolph (I'm sure you can see this one coming in like Santa's sleigh is on fire). When it started sleeting the husband asked Roudolph if everyone in the Soviet Union was Communist. 'Da, we are all communist' was the non too cheery reply. Rather than antagonize his host about politics he decided to take another tack and ask about the weather. He pointed to the snow coming down and asked 'do you get a lot of snow?'. 'Not snow, is rain' The discussion starts to get heated and the wife notices that the cab is not going into the city but taking a rather scenic route. She decides to quell the situation by saying 'Honey, don't question him. Roudolph the red, knows rain dear'
8. Cross Country Skis - My mother (who never reads this blog) is from Finland. In Finland, they enjoy snow sports of all sorts because suicide is really the only alternative. The national winter sport there really is cross country skiing. This is fine if you live in Finland. But one year we all got cross country skis for Christmas. You could see the excitement and anticipation in our young faces knowing that THIS winter, we would be doing the 2nd most strenuous exercise known to man, while the other kids would be swishing downhill and letting an automated chair lift them up to the top of a hill. Only later after are rather Karmic downhill ski accident that would claim my knee for the rest of my life did I realize that cross country was probably the much better, if not least exciting, option. But when we got those skis, they only looked like work without productivity.
7. Clever Clever Children - Christmas is for kids. I disagree. Christmas is for Adults to give to kids. For we get the benefit of seeing young eyes light up to gifts that are seemingly impossible. But those magic years are gone all too soon and are replaced with polite avarice mingled with mild contempt. The interesting thing is, given the material available the observations that the kids come up with are rather limited. It's that age old chestnut of opening a present and exclaiming 'it's a box!'. Usually the first time the 'It's a box' line is given it gets an inordinate amount of laughs and so like any young child comedian, you beat that dead horse until it is running backwards. And backwards it will run as though it was whipped by Hennie Youngman himself. By the time you hear it the 5th time, it really takes all the air out of the room and you want to hide the rest of the presents.
5. Santa won't come until you are in bed! - It's a good thing Santa leaves by 4 AM because I'm gonna be up grabbing at wrapping paper like a pulp vampire. This seems so sadistic to kids. BED?! but I'M NOT SLEEPY!!! So you spend the night tossing and turning in your bed trying as hard as you can to fall asleep only to wake up every 10 minutes to look at the clock to see that you still have at least 5 hours to sleep before you can even think about waking up. Meanwhile, the parents are up trying to put together these gifts that a mythical corpulent elf is getting the credit for. If they are lucky they will get a good 4 hours of sleep before hearing the semi-hoarse whisper 'CAN WE WAKE UP NOW?'. Depending on your disposition when sleep deprived, it could make you want to take a flame thrower to the entire Christmas scene. This sentiment was portrayed perfectly by the late Darren McGavin in a Christmas Story.
4. What? No Batteries?! - I've experienced this one more than a couple of times. It's a quick example of the extacy and the agony. You finally get that super cool programmable tank you've always wanted (oh, wait, I believe that was my cousin that got that. the PowerTrack. lucky bastard. Different story) and you come to find that when Santa came to your house, he took every battery in the joint. You go rummaging around pulling the guts out of flashlights and radios trying to cobble together enough power to get that little helicopter off the ground (oh, that was my Brother that got that one) for maybe 6 minutes. My dad was great at the large event, but not particularly good at the little details, but what are ya gonna do? You've get these great presents for these ingrates you brought into the world and all they can say is 'do we have any batteries?' Why I oughta... (Mine was a transistor radio that I got in Arkansas. It was the first freedom of communication that I had even though it was just one way. I listened to 'The Streak' and felt like I got away with something. Once I had the batteries that is.)
2. Clever Clever Children Part II - When the holidays roll around and you are a kid, any wrapped gift is looked at like chum for sharks. It's almost unbearable to look at any of the brightly colored boxes. You MUST open them. It's what you were built for. If there was a job that involved opening brightly decorated boxes, surely you would be the richest kid in the world by now. Kids are quickly taught to associate Christmas with payday. As such, they realize that there is a protocol of quid-pro-quo that is traditionally to be followed. In my family the family presents are opened on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day was saved for Santa presents. The rules were as follows: Nobody opens presents until dinner is eaten. Nobody opens presents until things are cleaned up. Nobody opens presents until we are all ready. NOBODY!!! This can produce whining, but whining lights up Santa's naughty board like, well, a Christmas tree. So you put up with it. You experience your first disgusting display of brown nosing, and the parents eat it up. But there comes a point, just like the 'just what I wanted a box' joke that enough is too much. That's when it's time to bring the video camera out. Better get used to this behavior. It gets useful in other aspects of life.
Re-gift - This is probably the worst gift anyone could give, but really doesn't matter for the receiver. You see, the sad recipient of this gift doesn't usually know that they got hoodwinked. But since gifts are for the giver. The regift is usually done out of desperation. Either you didn't expect a present from these people you thought you hardly knew, or the present is too difficult to find for a person you are obliged to get a gift for. You don't want to get them another calendar, and they really aren't close enough to you to put THAT much thought into the present. So you look at the other presents you got from 2nd tier friends and you quickly decide that the Holiday size salted Nut roll would be the perfect gift to give to that buddy that slipped your mind. Shame on you twice. Shame...Shame... (I know, we all do it and it isn't THAT big a deal, unless it is, but I had to round out the list)
ho ho hope you liked this list. If you didn't, I hope you get that Holiday sized salted Nut roll and wonder 'now why would they give me a present with their name in...oh'
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays etc.