What I Didn't Buy For Christmas This Year

I’m so proud of myself. I orchestrated a beautiful Christmas for my family without being an idiot. 

I didn’t buy one single gift that was rare, hard to find, or in high demand. Sure, I ended up with a bunch of lame stuff that everybody else got last year, but at least I didn’t make a fool out of myself.

Every Christmas season a bunch of dumb stuff comes out of the woodwork and makes its way onto store shelves, just waiting for that moment of panic to hit you, the point when you realize you don’t have enough presents, haven’t spent enough money, and you are desperate enough to buy anything under $50 that doesn’t smell like garlic. A bunch of other stuff purposely doesn’t make its way to the store shelves, a massive advertising campaign is launched making you want to buy it anyway, and lines start forming at Target.

I stood in a line of one person (me) to buy my son an Xbox 360 Madden game (of which there were at least 20 in the case) while behind me a line formed for Wii’s that were reportedly going to be unloaded from a truck sometime in the next 12 hours. Grown men and women, leaning and sitting in a line, waiting for a game that everybody had to have. 

I’m sure these same people, in younger days, drove through three states to buy Tickle Me Elmo, or before that, the crab beanie baby, or before that, a Cabbage Patch Doll.

I am so grateful to my kids for not asking for these must-haves for Christmas. Instead of standing in lines I was having a third egg nog and watching The Christmas Story marathon.

Here are some other things I didn’t buy this year:

* Gift certificates for massages or tanning. These are very popular gift choices around the holidays.  Most people I know don’t do either of these things. I do know some people who claim they get massages and tell me I should get one. They’re fabulous!, they tell me. Believe me, you’d like it! Really, you might not think you’ll like it, but you’ll like it! I like it and wouldn’t give up my massages for anything. 

Right. I won’t like it. And if you think I will like it, you don’t know me very well. When I was moving from Mount Laurel, my friends were pitching in on a going away gift and four out of the five women thought I should have a spa day. They all agreed that I wouldn’t like it, but thought I needed one anyway. (Moving makes me cranky and tense around the shoulder area.)  Thank God for Jude, the fifth woman, who convinced them I could use a Fitz and Floyd plate instead.

* A purse made out of license plates. There’s a makeup store in our mall that sells miscellaneous non-makeup related things on the side, one of them being purses made out of rolled up license plates. There are no price tags on them and I can only imagine they’re very expensive, so I’m proud to say I went another year without succumbing to the temptation. I would probably buy the Tennessee license plate purse just because it’s the prettiest. And Tennessee is one of the few states I haven’t lived in.

* Moving Elvis Head and Torso. I’m sure it must have another name, but this thing is so freaky, I wouldn’t get close enough to look at the label. As you go up the escalator at Macy’s, it’s right there in front of you, writhing and grinding a low motor noise. It’s just about life-size and wearing a black silk shirt unbuttoned down to about where the bellybutton would be.  It’s aging, creepy Elvis, too, not young vibrant Elvis. At least I think it’s Elvis. It could be a head and torso of the guy who works at the Fayette County DMV, a man who looks so much like Viva Las Vegas Elvis, I swear my son failed his driver’s test twice just so we could catch another glimpse of this guy. 

* Anything from Toys R Us. I’m proud to say I haven’t been inside a Toys R Us in years. Even before my kids stopped playing with toys I tried to avoid that place. I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about the bad lighting in the place and the hugeness of the ceiling area that makes me feel like I’m paying too much for cheap plastic. And although giraffes are my favorite animal, Geoffrey skeeves me out.

Another Christmas, another victory for the anomalous American consumer.