The earliest, wildest days of the Christmas shopping season are upon us once again. Yes, the time has come for seemingly endless middle-of-the-night queues that ring the perimeters of retail sales oases from coast to coast. For the bull-rush of bargain-desperate crowds, trampling fallen promotional brochures like so many crisped-by-Autumn leaves. For the inevitable emotional letdowns when a hoped-for, wished-for, not-needed-but-hotly-desired item is snatched from the grasp, literally or figuratively or both. (If you are among those who will be braving the crowds this Black Friday, I wish you nothing but blue skies, green lights and only the gentlest of shoulder-checks or head-on cart collisions, followed naturally by courteous and good-humored discourse with fellow travelers; if you would extend the same wish to me, I'd be grateful.)
On the other hand, you are likely made of wiser, cooler-headed stock, wanting to avoid the madding crowd, not rush headlong into the breech with them -- or worse, against them. You want to find gifts at your own pace, a quality I admire and even envy. While you rest up, I'll likely still be wandering the aisles at a Target or a Best Buy, scanning madly to find some little technological gew-gaw to hold before my wife's tiring eyes, promising her that this is the device that will ultimately satisfy my inner six-year-old.
The clock, however, will keep ticking. Sooner or later, you will have to rise and find your coat, hat and wallet, and head for one store and/or another to fulfill those Christmas wish lists. And when you get out there, you may discover to your dismay that some of those people on your list are near-impossible to shop for -- perhaps because the gift they asked for isn't available anymore, or their request is just too pricey, or perhaps worst of all, they didn't drop a single hint about what they were after.
And depending on where you are shopping, you may very well see a display (or two or ten) emblazoned with the four-word phrase "AS SEEN ON TV!" This may give you pause. Your eyes might scan the merchandise. You might very well consider putting a few of these items in your cart. Granted, some of these products are actually worth the purchase price, but a few could -- and should -- leave you scratching your head.
(NOTE: The following products are all real and not just part of some weird fever-dream. I have seen the commercials more than once; you can go to the Internet and check them out for yourself. And you will find that yes, indeed, these things are made by people, for people ... probably.)
Like "Snap-On Feathers." Or the "Criss Angel Mindfreak Platinum Magic Kit." Or perhaps most remarkably, "Forever Lazy" lounge wear.
Remember your pajamas from childhood? The one-piece, full-body ones that your parents struggled to put you into when it was bedtime, you'd sweat all night in, then struggle to get out of the next morning? Now you can make the conscious choice to wear them all the bloody time! How initially charming and temporarily whimsical you'll seem to friends, family, co-workers and potential mates! (Man, even my inner six-year-old is shaking his head with a furtive sadness as he looks at these things; he's also telling me that the Criss Angel Mindfreak dude is indeed freaking him out -- thanks loads, pal, he's not going to sleep tonight.)
I pride myself on being as gracious as possible when I receive a gift that I didn't particularly want or need. I mean, somebody went out of their way to consider me worthy of a present. Once my worthiness was determined, he or she or they potentially invested untold amounts of precious time and energy pondering who I am as a person, determining how close our relationship was then or was going to possibly be, then weighing perhaps innumerable gifting options.
In other words, if someone gets me a "Forever Lazy" get-up, I am going to wonder what I did wrong and what I can do to heal the obviously wounded relationship.
I mean, it's the least I can do, this being the holidays and all.