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Township Roads: Christmas giftware

Fri, Dec 13th, 2002
Posted in Columnists

It is that time of year again. Crowds of people working at their Christmas shopping choke the roads into and out of shopping centers and malls. Our township road has been clogged, too. Ill bet eight cars went past this last Sunday. Most of the occupants were wearing orange and were doing their shopping at the outdoor livestock boutiques in the neighborhood.I took the opportunity to do a little browsing through all those advertising flyers that come in the newspapers every day between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve. My wife assures me that there are gift-giving ideas galore in these flyers and that I should pay attention to them. Maybe I would learn what gifts are popular and, by studying the models, might learn what colors go well together and what styles are appropriate. Such study might turn me into a much-improved gift-giver.Here is a summary of what I found. First of all, the models I mentioned are all stuffed replicas of unreal humans whose photos have been digitally altered. Nobody looks that good. I will not comment on the female models whose looks and behavior I do not pretend to comprehend. However, having spent considerable time around locker rooms in my day, I conclude that not one man in a hundred is shaped like those models in the ads. Furthermore, I do not believe that men stand around in their underwear chatting. Men hardly chat at all, and if they do, they dont do it in their underwear. These unreal scenes that show men chatting in their underwear do nothing to inspire me to buy underwear. My reaction is usually, "Why dont those guys get dressed and get back to work?" And besides, real men wear holey underwear with droopy elastic. Real men wouldnt be caught dead in "lounge pants" either. Lounge pants make me cringe.It is peculiar what the advertisers think represents Christmas. The ads come out in red and green with Santa Claus adorning every page. Once inside the cover you find that the ad could work just as well to help you celebrate Labor Day, Columbus Day or the Viola Gopher Count. What do cough syrup, deodorant, Immodium, teeth whitener, hair color, pantyhose, paper plates, Tylenol, Tide and toilet paper have in common? They were all advertised under the banner of "Christmas Gift Ideas". Oh, boy. Someone is going to love what they find in their stocking.The ads would like you to think that food is fine Christmas giftware. How about some very nice macaroni and cheese, Froot Loops, sour cream, pizza, or salad dressing wrapped up under your tree on Christmas morning? In the same flyer, on back-to-back pages, is an ad for a five-gallon bucketful of fine chocolates next to an ad touting the benefits of Slim-Fast. Sounds like an even exchange to me. Buy five gallons of chocolates and wash it down with five cases of Slim-Fast. The perfect gift-giving idea. She will love you for it.Other foods are not quite so common. We got a catalog here at the house for what must be some very high-class food. They offer a four-pound fruit basket for only forty dollars plus shipping and handling. You can get five pounds of pears for only twenty-three bucks. Im tempted by the one-pound fruit cake that will set me back a mere eighteen dollars. The meats they offer get a little pricey, too. If you like smoked salmon you can have two-and-a-half pounds for just seventy-six dollars. A nine-pound turkey will cost you fifty-five bucks. An eleven-pound ham is seventy-five dollars. Im sure it is all very good, but I wonder if the people who sent that catalog know that here in Fillmore County and for less than the price of two of their hams, we can buy an entire full-grown Momma hog complete with two huge hams and lots of other good parts that we can eat off of for a whole year. If they do know that then Ill bet they are hoping we dont know it.I enjoy reading about the fine tools they sell at Christmas. Somebody advertised a drill that is "built to last" for only thirteen bucks. Not likely. Drills sold for ten times that amount last only a little while. Good ones are much more than that. I was especially impressed with the offer of two hundred tools for just forty dollars. Wow, Ill bet a guy could build a ship with tools like those. Some of the things they try to sell seem a bit dangerous. One store advertised a therapeutic "Spa Bath Mat" that you plug in to a wall socket and then bring in the bathtub with you. This seems counter to common sense. You dont bathe with plugged-in appliances. If you really want to end it all, why not hop in the bath with a much cheaper four-slice automatic pop-up toaster, a George Foreman grill or an always-ready hair dryer. Of course, the attraction of the "Spa Bath Mat" is that it "generates heated bubbles". Thats not so special. My boys did that in the bathtub when they were little. They thought it was funny, not therapeutic.There are also a lot of ads that offer you a free something-or-other as a gift to you if you buy another something-or-other from the same company. It is a classic offer. They will give you something almost worthless that you dont need if you give them your hard-earned cash for another over-priced something that no one else really needs either. Sounds like a deal to me.Dressed animals are my final pet peeve of this and every season. Stuffed animals and animal statues are fine, but when they get dressed up they really annoy me. This tendency to clothe animals reaches its peak near Christmas. Why is it cute to dress animals for the season? I dont think animals really care, but the dressed rabbits, frogs, and chickens of summer are joined by dressed moose, bears, deer, penguins, snakes, and insects for the Christmas season. The uglier the better seems to be the motto. Well, I hope your Christmas shopping is going better than mine. I do have my eye on a few surefire gifts. Ive spotted a nice pair of shoes for my wife for four dollars. I think that a cast-iron sausage stuffer will work well for our fourteen-year-old son. Theres an ad for fifty percent off a pair of cuckoo clocks for our eighteen-year-old boy and I think that it is about time I got that radar gun for my mother. Merry Christmas!

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