Gift giving made easy

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With just under a week to go until Christmas, most reasonable people have probably completed most of their Christmas shopping. Of course, I can only speculate what reasonable people do, but I can tell you for sure that, as a world class procrastinator, I fully intend finish my Christmas shopping in just under a week … give or take. I definitely intend to get started this weekend … probably.

I’m pretty sure the main reason I always put off my Christmas shopping until the last minute is because I’m the world’s worst gift giver. Seriously, I stink a picking out good or even appropriate gifts. I’m probably the only person who ever disappointed a two year old at Christmas time; how was I supposed to know that a singing bass would terrify a toddler? I thought it was pretty cool but my grandson was traumatized and may never be able to go fishing or enjoy a fish taco.

After years of disappointing my family and friends with gag gifts that weren’t funny or practical presents they couldn’t use or even thoughtful gifts that turned out to be thoughtless (I really thought she wanted a gym membership after gaining all that baby weight), I finally learned to ask for a wish list from everyone.

Christmas wish lists are awesome for insensitive unimaginative jerks like me. While you’ll almost certainly never thrill anyone with a gift they asked for, you are guaranteed to never make them cry when they open it, which might happen if a certain woman is expecting jewelry and opens a box filled with a year’s supply of vacuum cleaner bags. A wish list takes the thought of thoughtful which is very helpful to those of us with a Y chromosome.

I think everyone should make a Christmas wish list to relieve their friends and family of the burden of actually paying attention to conversations that might contain hints, innuendo or outright statements of gifts that appeal to you. Remember, the holiday season is also football season so chances are we aren’t listening.

I make a list every year because I want to spare my family and friends the crushing despair (theirs or mine) of giving me a gift I really don’t want. I don’t do it because I’m selfish or materialistic; I do it because I know that the best part of Christmas is the joy of giving and I want to optimize that experience for my family, friends and even my loyal readers who are moved by the holiday spirit.

A good Christmas list should contain two sections; Things you really want (for your loved ones who really want to experience the joy of giving) and things you’ll settle for (for the rest of us.) Strictly as a public service I’ll share a condensed version of my wish list; my column is limited to 750 words so I omitted items 3 through 148 from the things I really want.

Atop my wish list this year is an F-5 fighter jet. You can’t buy a fully automatic M-16 but, surprisingly, it is perfectly legal to own and fly your own F-5, and I want one. I don’t know how to fly an F-5, but I’ve known hundreds of fighter pilots and, trust me if they do it, it can’t be that hard. I want a fighter jet because I think it would be very cool to establish air superiority over our subdivision then grow our lawn out to a lush four inches in open defiance of the home owners association! How do you like me now!?

Next on my list is a 1967 GTO convertible because that may well be the coolest way to drive to and from your new fighter jet.

My list of things I would settle for includes the 40th Anniversary edition DVD of Young Frankenstein and a crayon drawing of a fighter jet or a GTO convertible from any of my grandkids because you can never have enough good refrigerator art!

The act of giving a gift is much like the act of making love — the anticipation is too often better than what you actually get and its poor form to complain about either. Remember, practice safe gift giving; always use a list!

I’ve got to go shopping and find a book or movie called “A man who listens,” I’ve never heard of it but it’s on the top of on my wife wish list again this year. I wonder …

Merry Christmas everyone!

Rick Seley is an award-winning humor columnist. He may be reached at


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