I actually meant to start this post back in October when, during a morning run through my neighborhood, I saw the first sign of the forthcoming holidays - a banner whipping around the Valero gas station advertising "Gifts fit for the whole family!" with a picture of their gas cards below.
I wish I'd taken a picture, but I was still operating under the delusion that October was a month for pumpkins, fall races, fishing and at the very bitter end of the month - eating of too small candies. So, you know, I didn't have my phone with me to document such merry holiday harbingers such as the fucking gas station.
That's OK though, because it at least provides a good segue for this particular holiday peeve of mine: Stores that inappropriately advertise their wares as "Perfect for the whole family", "The right size for everyone on your list" or inclusive of "Everyone you know".
Because, outside of perhaps Amazon.com, which now sells every fucking thing under the sun, or eBay, which lets people from all over the world sell shit that no one wants alongside other shit that is either overpriced or being fenced from the back of a windowless van, no store has something that everyone in anyone's family wants or needs.
And this is not a new concept or realization either. I remember seeing a holiday ad (and it was probably one of those broadsheet paper fliers shoved into my folks' Sunday newspaper) as a kid for a hardware store advertising "Gifts for the whole family" with photos of a drill press, floral hammer, plain pink sweatshirt and rubber bands rendered as line drawings on its flimsy cover with the banner, "Gifts for the whole family" splashed across the top amongst red and green ornaments and similar holiday finery.
"Mmhhmmm..." I remember thinking doubtfully. "Who's 'whole family' are they referring to with this ad?"
Then I tried to match up the items on the cover with members of my own family in an effort to validate their "whole family" claim. It was a confusing and altogether unsatisfying process that only confirmed for me the hollow claims of holiday advertisers and also the ineptitude of hardware store marketing departments.
"OK...so the drill press is clearly for dad. The floral hammer is for mom? Or what about the pink sweatshirt? I guess that could be for my mom or my sister. Rubber bands? Are those for my brother? So that he can make a rubber band ball and throw it for the dog who will inevitably eat it and wind up with a trip to the vet when my mom thinks she's gotten worms but is actually just trying desperately to pass a wad of True Value's finest? I give up. Let's see that Macy's ad."
And so went the day.
I'll admit to being hopelessly attracted to the glossy ads folded into the Sunday paper around the holidays, making the thing so fat with BUY THIS CRAP BEFORE CHRISTMAS IS UPON YOU LIKE THE PLAGUE fliers that the paper guy couldn't roll the newspaper up compactly enough to fit into the oversize newspaper box bolted to the post beneath the mailbox. Instead, we'd find the paper stuffed into a thin weakling plastic bag and propped up against the post, straining for all its worth against the bag and physics itself.
And I'm sorry to say that this trend of every store hawking its bullshit as "perfect gifts for the holidays" regardless of its actual gift-giving qualities has not changed. In fact, it has only gotten more pervasive as the years have gone by and the stores become ever the more desperate to sell whatever the hell it is that they have on the shelves to any passerby similarly desperate to buy something or gullible enough to believe that a tire store has a "perfect gift" for his aging mother.
Some things are just not gifts, people. I think that, during 11 months out of the year, almost all of us can distinguish between something that *is* a gift and something that is not. And this is coming from someone who has purchased tires as a gift, though not for my mother.
I just don't want this trend getting completely out of control, as seems to be the inevitable outcome. I mean, yes, now it's just the gas station, dry cleaner and local mechanic tying ribbon around gas cards, wire hangers and steel belted radials, but it's going to lead to the funeral home down the street trying to market its services as "Perfect for the whole family" and that is when I'm going to fucking lose it.
Businesses of the world - everything you sell or provide as a service IS NOT A GIFT. So, just put your ribbon away and stoppit already.