by Chason Gordon
- The Capitol Hill Times -
When it comes to presents, they say that it’s the thought that counts, but you and I know that that’s not true. You can’t give someone an empty box and say, “I thought about putting a harmonica in here. It’s the thought that counts.” Thoughts must be accompanied by actions, exhaust fumes, looking for parking, waiting in lines, and maxing out your credit card. That’s what really counts. You must spend an inordinate amount of time and money on something, because it’s confirmation that you thought about that person for at least 10 minutes this year.
Along with going to the gym, cancelling your gym membership, and returning a call from that guy at the gym who you don’t like, buying Christmas presents is one of the most procrastinated activities in existence. It’s understandable. Buying presents is something that benefits other people. Why would anyone rush out to do something like that? If it was making yourself a sandwich, you’d naturally take care of it right away, but this is different.
That Christmas day when the presents are due always looms on the horizon like an oncoming ambulance filled with responsibility (not sure that made sense). Months turn to weeks, weeks turn to days, days turn back to weeks because of a rupture in the space-time continuum, but then turn back to days again when Superman fixes things. “I’ll do it tomorrow,” you keep saying to yourself while driving past a mall that has plenty of parking and selection.
You have to approach present buying with baby steps. Human beings tend to enjoy matter, in the form of objects they can put somewhere in their house and/or possibly use. No songs, memorized poems or declarations of undying love count. Google your memories for times when loved ones expressed enjoyment for music or books or wearing clothing. Didn’t your sister once mention that she likes food? Simply go to a store that sells one of those things, describe your family member to the clerk without swearing too much, and they’ll do the shopping for you, especially if you throw them a few bucks. You can blame any disliked presents on the clerk.
Of course, the above plan may still be too much effort for some people. No problem. You probably enjoying buying things for yourself, so just go do that, and then buy the same thing for everyone else. Yes, it may be selfish to buy others what you want, but if your family truly loves and understands you, if they have anything in common with you, they better damn well like Pogs or a box set of Nick Cage movies. Still too much effort? Then just get them Amazon gift certificates or make a giant batch of almond bark. Everyone loves almond bark!
Let’s say, however, that Christmas Eve arrives and you still have nothing. Plenty of time! In the morning, get up really early and drag yourself to a store, even if the only thing open is the gas station. Maybe you can buy everyone some motor oil? Every car needs motor oil, but which type? There’s 5W-30, 5W-20 and 10W-30. Do they have a variety pack? You don’t want to get things wrong and look like you don’t care. Maybe you should buy those pine tree air fresheners? A pack of Rolos? Whatever it is, it has to look like it didn’t come from a gas station, so skip getting those very tempting Chevron gift certificates.
Should this idea fail, rush back to the house and quietly walk in, pretending like you’ve just woken up. Family members will be slowly emerging from their rooms for breakfast. You’re not hungry, and besides, there’s still plenty of time! Scour the house for things that you can quickly wrap and give to your loved ones. They can’t be aware of everything that they own. It’s a great idea! Since they own it, you know they already like it. You just need to find something that they forgot they liked. What about the armoire? The dog? Something from the liquor cabinet?
If you still have nothing at this point, and everyone is sauntering over to the family room for gift-giving time, don’t panic. A few minutes into the gift exchange, it will become obvious that you haven’t moved or said anything, and your mother will probably say, “Is there anything here from you?” This is certainly a tough situation, but, like Captain Kirk, I don’t believe in no-win scenarios. Stall! Laugh as if what she said is ridiculous, and tell a long emotional story about your grandfather. Even at this point, there are still a few options: you can tell the entire family that they’re adopted, temporarily blind them with salt and quickly write your name under “From” on the other presents, or, if nothing else comes to mind, just yell, “I’m taking you all to Paris!!!” They’ll be so excited that the details won’t matter.
When you inevitably have to cancel the trip a week later because of “work,” make up for it with some apology almond bark, which can also double as your incredibly-late Christmas presents. Done and done.