Over these next few days, parents will hurl themselves into the gaping maw of shopping hell in a last-ditch effort to appease their children and loved ones. In many instances, they will fail. It's not for a lack of effort; making people truly happy (not just fake-grin, polite gratitude) on Christmas and Hanukkah is like playing a game of chess while blindfolded. At gunpoint. At a Gwar concert. And you have to move all of the pieces with your ass.
Because the game is inside your asshole.
Just remember, you're not making the process any easier when you find yourself resorting to ...
9The Practical Gift
Your parents have lied to you about the existence of Santa Claus, and society has played a hefty role in that long con. I know you're angry about that, but on the upside, you at least now know that the real gift decision-maker isn't some cherry-cheeked owner of elf-slaves who is tracking your every movement and watching you as you sleep.
And stop fretting about that winged weirdo with the tooth fetish.
In a sense, the death of the Santa Claus myth brings ultimate clarity to the parent-child relationship as it pertains to Christmas. But while that means that you can now lobby for the big-ticket items on your wish list and search the house for boxes to shake, it also means that there is no magical fat man to blame when things go horribly wrong and you wind up with practical gifts like pants and worm medicine for your cat.
Or socks, used mainly to wipe away tears of disappointment.
Nothing emulates the sound of a heart tearing like the noise a Trapper Keeper's velcro makes when pulling apart on Christmas morning, does it?
8Cold, Hard Cash
I know what you're thinking: "Why is money a bad gift?" In essence, it's the least personal thing you can possibly get for someone. A gift card isn't much better, but it at least says that the person tried to figure out which stores you like to frequent. But money? You throw money at problems like mouthy hookers and second cousins whose interests you are completely and blissfully unaware of.
Soren Pilman/iStock/Getty Images
"Actually, do Sue's kids even use dollars? They live all the way in Oregon."
What's worse, the freedom to buy whatever you want with your gifted money doesn't really exist when you aren't old enough to carry a wallet or hold onto your own cash. Instead, the money is "put aside" for you, which means that, while a folded $20 or two in a card may give you a momentary jolt of excitement, in all actuality, your uncle got a clear conscience, your parents got $40 worth of drunk, and you got Jackie Coogan'd.
"Merry Christmas to us all! Including our dear kid, whatshisname."
To be fair, though, the "put the money aside for you" thing is an excellent preemptive way for a parent to pay down their child's eventual "I'll pay you back for it" debts of their early adult years.