anne mikolay 2012 120Yes, I know. Tis the thought that counts...blah, blah, blah. But let's be honest. Shall we? Whether it's a collectible you don't collect, or a sweater several sizes too large or too small, or something totally outlandish or inappropriate, sooner or later we all receive a Christmas gift that leaves us scratching our heads in bewilderment, wondering what on earth the giver was thinking.

One year, a certain person who shall remain nameless attended a holiday auction and won a lovely artificial Christmas wreath decorated with little Santas riding on lawn mowers, which he proudly displayed on his front door. Guess what he gave me the following Christmas? A lovely artificial Christmas wreath decorated with little Santas riding on lawn mowers. When my oldest son was three years old and quite enamored with Lionel trains, someone gave him a train-shaped doorstop. A doorstop. For a pre-schooler. A doorstop made of solid iron. A lethal weapon in the hands of a little boy – if he could even lift the thing. I'll never forget the Christmas my youngest, about seven  years old at the time, received a shoe polishing kit. The poor kid didn't know what to do with it. A friend once received a giant, white, porcelain elephant from her husband's aunt, who claimed elephants brought good luck. Auntie was right. My friend was lucky enough to find someone to take the unsightly thing off her hands. I have received a myriad of clunkers: a Betty Boop doll (can't stand Betty Boop), a collectible doll (I don't collect) complete with certificate of authenticity (it's somewhere in my attic), boxes of inedible cookies, ugly fish-net stockings from a co-worker (Secret Santa debacle), and a tin star presented in a velvet pouch (loved the pouch; can't find the star). At the risk of sounding ungrateful, some folks should cease attempting to think outside the gift box, if you know what I mean.

But that's not easy to do when marketing gurus keep shoving seasonal novelties down our throats. While perusing several gift catalogs, I came across quite a few things I certainly wouldn't want to find beneath my tree on Christmas morning. Capitalizing on the popularity of the classic holiday film, “A Christmas Story,” for $45 you can purchase a 20” tall leg lamp complete with 10” fringed shade. After a few laughs over this “major award”, what does one do with a leg lamp? (Light the attic perhaps for collectible dolls complete with certificates of authenticity?) Don't like leg lamps? $42 will buy a John Wayne license plate lamp, a brass-tone aluminum lamp featuring John Wayne's image made from a metal wraparound license plate. If the “Duke” is not your style, perhaps Pope Francis is. $24.95 buys a  waving Pope Francis solar statue. No batteries needed! For $199, circulation improving leg wraps can be yours! Allegedly, circulation is improved after inflating the wraps around the legs, but you're not going anywhere with these puffy things squeezing your extremities (though you might be able to float in a pool). Do you know how to make a lasting impression on a woman this Christmas? Give her a crow's feet reducer device (Yes! There is such a thing!), or wrinkle cream, or a scale. And for that special, balding fella, how about a hair rejuvenation “hat”? $699 buys the device that claims to stimulate hair growth, if your sweetheart doesn't mind looking like something out of Star Wars.

In closing:

In this the season of love and cheer,

If you get a stupid gift this year,

Simply smile, say thanks, and walk away,

And go home and sell it on ebay.