Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sanity Clause

The holiday season has caught up with us again like a sinus infection after a long plane flight home. So amidst the head clogging gift lists, the runny post nasal drip of trying to remember whom you gifted to last year, and who gifted to you. And were those gifts things worth return consideration or are they still wrapped up in the basement with your name scratched off and “Dear Great Aunt Emma” hastily penned in since nobody, and I mean nobody really needs a Chia bread loaf.

Somewhere in there, the raw blown nose of endless “to buy for” lists has to come a moment of clarity to every amateur Santa. A vision of the perfect something for the perfect person. Usually a child since they can dish out guilt faster than Great Aunt Emma who merely smiles quietly and farts a little more at dinner.

And doesn’t every child just want that perfect gift to be the hottest gift of the year, the toy or game that you line up for at Wal-Mart at 3 am on July 16th, come to blows over with a petite woman in her forties just because there are two left and you don’t want the one with the minute tear in the package. Isn’t that just perfect?

It would be helpful to think about some of the hot selling toys of years past. Not that it would predict what’s going to move next year and you can buy a garage-full and an ebay account. But merely a retrospective and commiseration with the ghosts of gift buyers past. Ghosts that, as we all know, visited a terrified Ebenezer Scrooge last and gave him the final message: “this disdain of Christmas; we think you’re on to something.”

Top Selling Toys

2006: Tickle Me Playstation Elmo: The happy red muppet is back and glued to his video game like a small dog to a postal ankle. Ask the fellow to get up and do anything that anyone with a normal life might do: Go out to play, eat, sleep, blink and he giggles and tells you “Ha ha that tickles. Now stop and leave me alone. I just missed my high score ‘cause of you.”

1995: Sony Playstation with Pied Action Piper of Hamelin: Amazing graphics, sounds interactive features and multiple player scenarios explain why you haven’t seen your cute ten year old and there’s an unshaven twentysomething in his room who wouldn’t know college from collage.

1985: Cabbage Patch Trust but Verify Kids: Adorable stuffed moppets that look like pudgy little boys and girls and insist that warhead destruction is carried out with military representatives present.

1978: Poong: The first video game. Astounding fake wood fourteen pound game driver you hook to a color television. It projects the image of a square that you use a controller to move around the screen. It bleeps like a drunken IBM mainframe and burns out the TV screen in about a month.

1965: GI Easy Bake Joe and Barbie Playset: While Joe is off fighting men from head to toe, a light bulb in the oven is warming stale dough and giving children upset stomachs all over America. Barbie stays home and gets several bizarre haircuts from her owner, portending punk fashion almost fifteen years early.

1951: Atomic City: Pressed lithograph steel play village with all the comforts and conveniences of the future: Pneumatic super cars, hyper elevators and a nuclear pile in every back yard. Strangely enough though, in the future, men all still wear dark suits, skinny ties and pork pie hats. Women are in bikinis.

1941: Junior Scrap Drive: The gift that you brought back to Uncle Sam on December 26th to be melted down and used to defeat the axis.

1937: Two sticks and a ball of yarn. Endless hours of play for children yet to be inducted into the CCC.

1929: Stock Dropper: Buy and sell and get rich quick and then get richer in the trading game that’s going to last forever.

1916: Boy’s Action Service Outfit: Full military outfit for young boys of good character who wish to serve their country in the fields of Europe liberating lands for syphilitic autocrats looking for a few more imperial acres. Worldwide influenza pandemic is an educational toy sold in a separate box.

1903: Pre-pubescence: A gift if you made it this far.

1895: The Coal Game: Mine it, move it, burn it, shovel it, breathe it. A lifelong toy for the entire family.
Bunny on.


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