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Lucy Perkins 

The Gifts That Keep On Giving

It's about the time of year when I usually start my Christmas shopping. I say about that time of year because it is not yet Christmas Eve, and I find that I work much better under pressure. So I'm planning out my shopping list and find myself in the same situation I find myself in every year: I can't think of a damn thing to buy for my family members. My friends are easy. Why? Because I know and like them. We have things in common. That's how they got promoted to friend status in the first place. When purchasing holiday gifts for friends, I simply have to contemplate what that person would enjoy (or what I think they ought to enjoy anyway). A new John Grisham novel, a nostalgic Motley Crue CD, a pair of boxer shorts with a hot pepper pictured in the crotch area. Like I said, friends are no problem.

Acquaintances, unlike friends, are difficult to shop for. This is because, although you know them, you do not necessarily like them. Usually, with acquaintances you know one or two key personality traits about the person, but that's all you've got to work with. Ah, Linda. She doesn't wash her hands after visiting the toilet. Should I get her antibacterial hand gel? And Frank. He's the guy who grabs my ass every time I walk past him. What do I get him? An inflatable doll with a nice, big, grabbable ass? Don't forget Howie, I hear he's screwing the boss. How about a nice Employee of the Month plaque?

Absolutely nothing is worse than shopping for family members, though. Often, you neither know nor like your family members, leaving you with little to work with in the gift-buying arena. And I'm tired of buying boring old socks for dad, sequined windsuits for mom and potpourri that smells like cat farts for grandma. So I've been brainstorming gifts for my family, and this is what I've got. Feel free to borrow any of these ideas as you shop for your own cherished family. If nothing else, at least you'll liven up the holiday festivities around the house this year.

Naturally, we must begin with mommy dearest. She's always the most difficult. She's particularly hard because, no matter how stupid or terrible a gift you get her, she has to smile and say "Ooh, how nice" when she opens it. So, to avoid the guilt commonly associated with making mom fake it (a guilt your dad no doubt has shared), you want this gift to be especially good. In my case, my mom has an empty nest, and I figure that she's probably contemplating travel, maybe getting out of the house every now and then, since she doesn't have children to worry about anymore. So I'm thinking of getting her a dog. After all, I'm sure she misses feeding and cleaning up after children all of the time. Plus, this will completely crush her chance of ever leading the carefree life of which she dreams. It's perfect.

But if your mom already has a pet to tie her down for the next 10 or so years, consider pasties. This is the ideal gift that she would never think of buying for herself. Personally, I recommend the sparkly ones with tassels. Hell, you can think of this as a gift the whole family will enjoy!

Which brings us to dad, who is now much less crucial, since he'll love the pasty idea even better than mom will. Unless your parents are divorced, in which case he'll probably despise the pasty idea. Unless you give them to your step-mom as well, a tactic that I highly recommend. Anyway, I suggest Viagra for dad, so that he can get the most out of mom's new pasties.

And never forget to shop for your siblings. After all, they're the ones who'll still be alive once your parents are dead and gone. Sure, you won't ever have to see them again after the funeral, but you don't know how long your folks are going to last, now do you? To maintain excellent relationships with your siblings, I recommend that you purchase them stock in mediocre-performing companies. Definitely stick to the mediocre stocks because you don't want their stock outselling your portfolio, do you? There's nothing worse than having a sibling richer than you are. For those of you who don't want to waste too much money buying even mediocre stock for your bossy older siblings or your whiny younger ones, I suggest pornography. Go with lesbian pornography for your brothers and something with a romantic story line for your sisters. Trust me. They may blush and look all embarrassed when they unwrap it under the Christmas tree in full view of Grandma, but they'll thank you later. From the privacy of their own homes.

Speaking of your prudish old grandparents, there's another conundrum to be solved. What do you get for people too old to appreciate anything? I suggest Pepto-Bismol. There is no digestive problem you can't solve with the pink stuff, so grandparents are sure to love it. And they'll be glad that you didn't waste your hard-earned money buying them something frivolous, like those anti-slipping pads you stick to the bottom of your bathtub.

Finally, if you happen to have any children on your list, this can pose a problem. I have nieces, nephews, and cousins who are expecting gifts, and other people have actual sons and daughters on their shopping lists. But when you arrive in any toy store or toy section, you will find that every toy is labeled by age appropriateness, "Ages one and up" or "Ages seven and up," for example. Toys are made only for certain age groups! How are you to remember exactly how old your nieces, nephews, cousins, sons and daughters are? I mean, if you went by how long it seems like you've known them, they'd all be "one million and up."

I've got a simple solution for them, too. Pornography. They might not thank you now, but when they turn 14...

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