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Making a list, checking it twice

Yesterday the mail lady pulled up and honked her horn. My Cyber Monday stash was somewhere in her Honda, along with a portion of 1,200 other packages out for delivery that morning from the Wesson Post Office. When she opened the hatch, a pile of boxes fell out. Ditto left side door. Then the right. After plundering a while, she came up for air and gave me a commendation: “Oversized mailboxes like yours make mail carriers very happy.” 

That’s good to know, I told her, apologizing that it wasn’t big enough for the boatload she just handed me. As she shot down the driveway, I tried to remember what I ordered. What is this armful of stuff? Oh, yeah . . .

Now before mean letters start coming my way, let me explain that I shop local, too. Downtown, outskirts, boulevard — I cruise it all. But some of these kids of mine, they just like to text me purchase links. I think it goes back to the year I surprised the oldest with a pottery wheel for Christmas. They aren’t taking any chances.

And with that confession as street cred, I have a word for those of you out there who are scratching your heads over what to buy for your loved ones this holiday season. I’m going to make some suggestions about what NOT to buy. (Disclaimer: The writer takes no responsibility for actions taken in relation to these suggestions. Assume your own risk.) 

First, just go ahead and mark these items off your list once and for all: underwear, knock-off perfumes, fruitcake, and anything on the “As Seen On TV” aisle. That’s a good start.

Next, accept the fact that no one — I mean no one — wants a present with the words “weigh,” “weight,” or “diet” on the label. Period. 

Along those same lines, any clothing that’s “one-size-fits-all” is dangerous territory, too. Consider the possible reactions: “Are you saying I’m fat?” or “What, you don’t even know my size?”

Now, for husbands. Gentlemen, no matter how much you think she’ll like it, your wife does not want a table saw. For that matter, as a general rule you should avoid wrapping anything that requires an extension cord. Ah, but you say, “My wife likes household equipment. I’m thinking an upgrade from a Swiffer WetJet to a Shark Steam Mop.” Tread lightly. And about sporting goods — if it’s something you want, just go ahead and put it on your own list already.

But wives can fall into gift-giving traps, too. Girls like Budget Betty need to get over the outdated electronics. We know you love a good deal, but they’re on sale for a reason, honey. Get him a recent generation iThing or don’t get him one at all. You crafters out there, think he’ll like that DIY necktie zip pouch on your Pinterest board? Eh, not likely.  And another thing: Give the self-help books a rest. Christmas isn’t the time to indicate your man has a few things to work on.

Then there are the gifts for children. A toy’s a toy, right? No, not if they’re highly irritating. Let’s face it. Some are in a category all to themselves, like harmonicas, pogo sticks, Easy Bake ovens, and anything with “silly” in the name (as in putty and string.) While kids may enjoy these gifts, parents won’t.

Speaking of kids, I’ve got a few, so I’ve learned a couple of things the hard way. 

First, don’t buy a child-sized beauty salon center with drawers and mirrors and labels and a gazillion parts, then wait until midnight on Christmas Eve to put it together.

Next, don’t cave to the Navy Seal wannabe who wants to read Lone Survivor unless you and hubby can spend three hours whiting out (then blow-drying) its profanities..   

Third, don’t give your kids a goat for Christmas. Yeah, we really did this one year. I hyped it up and all that. They thought we were on our way to get a four-wheeler or something. Not pretty.     

And last, but certainly not least: Never, ever buy your teenage son a pottery wheel. (Unless, of course, he sends you a link.)

Kim Henderson is a freelance writer. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com.