Perfect gift syndrome

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(Host) Tomorrow is the busiest shopping day of the year – and commentator Ken Sheldon has some good advice about picking that perfect gift.

(Sheldon) There’s a special type of craziness that sets in every year at this time. I call it The Perfect Gift Syndrome. This is a seasonal affliction that makes every company on the planet think whatever they sell would make a great gift for someone on your shopping list. Over the years, I’ve seen ads for garage door openers, live lobsters, helicopter lessons and gift certificates for home heating oil, all being touted as the perfect gift this holiday season.

I once saw an ad suggesting that a man who really loved his wife and valued her safety should buy her a new set of snow tires for Christmas. The guy who wrote that ad had either never been married, or else he’d been sniffing rubber solvent. Trust me, guys, if you value your own safety, ignore that suggestion, unless you want to end up on one of those tabloid news shows. You know…

“She was an ordinary housewife, until she saw the Goodyears under the Christmas tree. Coming up: Yuletide, Bloody Yuletide.”

If you know what’s good for you, stick with Evening in Paris.

Another time, I heard a radio ad implying that any man who buys his wife a diamond for Christmas is an idiot, since what she really needs is a cellular phone in case she breaks down on the highway at midnight.

Well, so much for romance.

You have to give the retailers credit, it takes ingenious marketing to transform some of these things into gift ideas. How do you sell a gift certificate to have a septic tank pumped?

“She’ll be flush with pleasure when she sees your thoughtfulness!”

A friend of mine actually fell prey to these ads one year and gave his wife a rear-view mirror and a garbage can for Christmas. His wife – an extremely forgiving woman – suggested to her children that they help Dad with his Christmas shopping next year. Over time, this has developed into an annual outing for dad and the kids – not to mention keeping Mom from being arrested for murder.

I have no idea what causes Perfect Gift Syndrome. Maybe it’s something in the eggnog, or the preservatives in fruitcake – the stuff that keeps those red and green chunks from growing a new strain of penicillin.

At any rate, this year I’ve got a suggestion for all those stores whose idea of the perfect Christmas gift for the one you love is a new sink, an oil change, or a hard disk upgrade.

This Christmas, give it…a rest.

This is Ken Sheldon of Hancock, New Hampshire.

Ken Sheldon is an author, singer and songwriter.

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