Well, it’s about a month until the big event, and time to start the nightmare that is Christmas shopping. Trying to buy other people something they want. What a concept. If they want it, and are over 16, and they have the means — or even if they don’t have the means but have a credit card — chances are they already bought it.
This makes shopping even harder, because now I have to think like a marketer, and identify an unmet need, and then fill it. I need to buy people something they don’t even know they want, but that will delight them, ideally beyond their wildest dreams. This is a tall order, and one that I have been known to take very seriously.
I’ve failed miserably at this in the past. I used to be a sucker for gadgets. My first gift to my then boyfriend back in 1974 was a “hot lather machine” for shaving. Seriously. And I couldn’t WAIT for him to open it. He was barely old enough to shave, and somehow I thought that the only thing lacking in his life (now that he had me, the ultimate prize) was the foam that he put on his face before scraping it with something sharp, was too cold. Life altering indeed. Even more staggering is that he used it, but I think that’s just because we were in the early stages of relationship training where he still did what I said.
And I distinctly remember presenting my sisters with such technological wonders as nail dryers. Because what girl hasn’t suffered through the cruel hardship of having to wait for her nails to dry, or heaven forbid “wrecking” a freshly polished talon (which we all sported in the 70s) before it was sufficiently hardened? Much like Dr. Drew, I was able to act as a Lifechanger and bestow upon them these nifty gadgets that would actually blow on your nails FOR you. Talk about luxury. Ivana Trump had nothing on us. I think that these gifts would have been more meaningful if my siblings were asthmatics or something, and blowing on their own nails presented more of a problem, but sadly these ladies have always enjoyed perfect health so I wasn’t able to have quite as dramatic an impact.
What other useless gadgets have I gifted, you ask? Well, I’ve attempted in good faith to transport my sisters and girlfriends from their kitchen tables to luxurious spas, by providing them with the rare and coveted facial steamer. So what if you can accomplish the same thing by leaning over your boiling kettle, or opening the oven door during broiling – at the time I was almost exclusively shopping at the high-class “Consumers Distributing” store, and from the picture in the catalogue it seemed like a definite life changer, in an elegant “Calgon take me away” sense.
And remember back in the seventies when everyone smoked? Well, everyone except my dad. My mom chained smoke (God rest her soul – not a coincidence ). So I was able to find the perfect gift to solve the problem of my dad’s constant bitching about secondhand smoke. It was of course to buy her a ‘smokeless ashtray’. I expected to win hands down the favourite child of the season award that year. But surprisingly, turned out not to be a big hit. Mom was annoyed because the thing basically smoked her cigarette down to the filter in seconds, as it was powerfully “inhaling” the whole time it sat in the ashtray. Consequently her number of smokes per day skyrocketed. And while Dad was hard of hearing, the industrial sounding hum that this thing emanated seriously impacted his enjoyment of Bonanza reruns. Conclusion: total bust.
And sometimes, without intending to, in my zeal to dazzle I guess I could be downright insulting. But, keeping in mind that I aspired to improve lives in a similar fashion to Richard Simmons and “Oprah’s Life Class”, when my dear friends complain about cellulite, naturally I take that as a challenge to come to the rescue. The quizzical (disbelieving?) expressions on the face of recipients whom you’ve just (at no small expense, might I add) gifted with an anti-cellulite product is something that must be seen. Never mind that in my head I visualize them, because of me, now being able to rock their Daisy Dukes, and not in a “the People of Walmart” kind of way. It’s true what they say, no good deed goes unpunished.
But I am not always on the giving end of crappy gadget gifts. My husband gave me something for Christmas early in our married life, that signalled that indeed the honeymoon was over, and had me seriously questioning our compatibility. My feelings were hurt and I couldn’t believe that he thought that this was a suitable gift for me, his trophy wife. It has gone largely unused, but I’ve kept it over the years, just for spite.
It’s Black Friday and I’m hitting the mall. Let the games begin.