Before Halloween was over and Thanksgiving was even here, stores like Target were already adorning themselves in holiday products, which frankly really irritates me. To be candid, I kind of hate Christmas. My husband and I are devout atheists, and despite our efforts to persuade our kids that Christmas is about being with family, our nearly 6-year-old twins have figured out that it’s really all about the presents. Furthermore, their birthday is Dec. 20, five days before Santa is supposed to arrive each year.
Actually, Santa doesn’t visit us anymore. We ejected him, along with the Easter Bunny, about three years ago when our son couldn’t sleep on Christmas Eve. He was afraid of a fat man sliding down our chimney and invading our house. Having little to gain by perpetuating the Santa charade – beyond headache and credit card debt – I convened a quick conference with my kids and stripped them of their innocence by divulging that the jolly man was a fake.
But even after removing the bearded impostor from the equation, our wallets still take a big hit this time of year. Weeks ago, Georgia started penning her birthday/Christmas list with requests for items such as the over-priced “Sticker Dolly Dressing” books and additions to her ballooning collection of the tiresome “Rainbow Fairies” series. Not to be outdone, Griffin scrawled out his own consumer manifesto, LEGO Ninjago mini figures hitting the top. For those unfamiliar with these collectible warriors – that have microscopic pieces that my son can’t fit together and that I keep sucking up with my Dyson – I’d recommend keeping a safe distance.
“Can you double bag that so I can get it into the house without my son seeing it?” I asked the clerk at the LEGO store last weekend.
“I will if you fill out the survey – and give me a smile,” he said.
I bared my teeth.
And now, apparently, I’m a LEGO VIP member, or at least that’s what my email keeps telling me. I’ve always known I was VIP material. I just hoped to hold that status in say, the roped-off section of a club, rather than at a toy store.
So you can imagine my trepidation as I cracked the seal on the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog that just arrived in the mail. But I think I may have found salvation between its pages, or, in the very least, a genius gift for each person on my list – a one-time windfall not to be repeated during future holiday seasons.
For our son, I’m thinking about the “50-Foot Snowball Launcher.” I’ve been meaning to bring a gun into the house, and this one allows “rapid, long-range assaults during neighborhood snowball confrontations.” If the almanac is at all correct, we will be having many of those this winter. And the “Bavarian Zipfel Bobsled” – which “combines the speed of Olympic luge racing with the effortless fun of coal shovel racing” – seems perfect for our 2-year-old. I didn’t personally acquire my first zipfelbob until I was much older than Jane, but she’s pretty spunky and fairly coordinated for her age.
For Griffin’s twin sister, Georgia, I’m considering the “Hands Free Hair Rejuvenator.” Since she darts from me every time I wield a brush and refuses to groom her own locks, a little “pain-free light stimulation” for her hair follicles might be in order. Furthermore, it “automatically shuts off when removed from the head,” so I won’t have to keep replacing the batteries – a task I loathe more than buying Christmas gifts.
My husband will get either the “Foldaway Recumbent Exercise Bicycle” or the “Subzero Warm Breath Mask.” On the one hand, I’ve noticed that Jeff has been growing a tad stouter about the middle, juggling three young kids, his athletic director’s job and his varsity girls’ basketball coaching schedule. “Unlike stationary models that force riders to pedal while hunched over (causing unnecessary back strain)” – never ideal for a middle-aged man – the recumbent bike encourages users “to sit upright and pedal with correct spinal posture.”
However, I must say that I’m leaning toward the breath mask – one “preferred by high-altitude mountaineers and Antarctic scientists” – because as a former Floridian, Jeff perpetually bitches about the long, cold Pennsylvania winters. So does his mother. For her, I’ve settled on not one but two presents: the “Heat Storing Leather Gloves” and the “7X Heat Retaining Socks.”
Jeff’s father, who’s into folk music, will enjoy the “Learn To Play Banjo.” Now that he’s retired, Bob should be able to pick up “Cripple Creek” and “Cumberland Gap” in no time, at which point I’ll install my twins at his apartment for daily lessons. And my father, though still able-bodied, could probably benefit from the “Circulation Improving Leg Wraps.” These bright blue casings are not only attractive but also “inflate and deflate to…soothe sore muscles and reduce swelling in your lower extremities.” I’ll send those in a box with the “Mold and Germ Destroying Air Purifier” for my mother, who tells me my basement smells and forecasts environmental and medical catastrophes as a hobby.
All of this will add up to a combined, pre-shipping and tax total of $1,754.55. This may seem like an extraordinary price tag for our small tribe, but I’m considering it an investment toward future peace and quiet. If this year’s gift distribution shuts up my kids and relatives forever, every penny will be well spent.
And I should confess that, for myself, I’ve been eyeing the “Personal Oxygen Bar,” a machine with tubes that is supposed to “facilitate relaxation.” Lord knows, nothing else in my life is. Paired with the “Remote Controlled Rolling Beverage Cooler,” with room for a half rack on ice, these devices just might be the answers to my prayers.