Not everybody, I recognize, has my pragmatic sense of the world. Many of you want to send just the right message with a present this year. To help you all out, here is my [almost]annual gift guide. Allow me to decipher just what those hidden messages are behind the gifts we give.
THE GIFT: Tortoise shell hair combs with jeweled rims.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: I clearly had not anticipated that you were going to cut your hair like a Coney Island chorus girl. Why, oh, why did I sell my grandfather's gold watch for these damn things?
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: Hey, at least my hair will be long and luxurious again in a few months. Good luck growing a new gold watch.
THE GIFT: A 500-page summary outlining the CIA’s illegal and ineffective use of torture.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: Your Congress is hard at work and on top of things – thirteen years after they happen!
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: If somebody actually ends up doing jailtime for this, it would be the best Christmas present ever!
THE GIFT: A commemorative statue of Batman’s 75th anniversary.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: You’re kinda a nerd.
WHAT THE RECEIVE THINKS: A statue of Batman -- the lesser Zorro.
THE GIFT: An announcement by Jeb Bush that he will be running for President of the United States.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT:This nation has been foolish enough to let two other members of this mediocre family become president. Why not me?
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: Isn't there a way to keep this family sequestered on an island somewhere?
*** THE GIFT: A poem about a visit from St. Nicholas
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: Aren’t I clever?
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: Other children get actual gifts from St. Nicholas. All I got was a cloying set of sloppy rhyming couplets. Worst. Christmas. Ever.
THE GIFT: Normalized relations with Cuba.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: This has been a complicated and difficult set of diplomatic negotiations that will have lasting impact on this hemisphere and beyond.
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: Finally! I will be able to get a bottle of Havana Club rum without having to smuggle it across the U.S.-Mexican border.
THE GIFT: Flesh, wine, and pine logs
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: You shall dine well tonight and be warm!
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: Uh, that’s nice for tonight. What about the other 364 days when I live in grinding poverty? This neighborhood is a dump! We get landslides from the mountain; the forest fence needs repair; and I can't even remember the last time that Saint Agnes’ fountain actually had water in it! Your cruel tyranny has allowed the accumulation of wealth among the few.
THE GIFT: Crystal wine glasses
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: Your stemware situation is grievous.
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: These are better than drinking out of a bottle in a paper bag I suppose.
THE GIFT: A collection of money to replace the missing deposit that your uncle was supposed to make for the savings and loan.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: We are a shockingly selfish set of humans making a token gesture. We will never really acknowledge our parasitic dependence on you or that our lives would have certainly turned to crime and/or alcoholism had you not been around.
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: Great, I get to avoid jail time for a mistake that I did not actually make. Otherwise, my life remains focused on playing nursemaid to an entire community. God, I hate this town.
THE GIFT: A diamond tennis bracelet.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: Television tells me to buy these.
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: If I look closely, I can almost see the blood inside each one.
THE GIFT: A video of our employees making paper airplanes out of boarding passes.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: You all are sheep and won’t notice the cripplingly expensive airfares we charge despite the low prices of fuel.
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: The holidays are that special time of year when I become nostalgic for the era when our nation actually enforced its anti-trust laws.
THE GIFT: A three-month gym membership.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: I plan to break up with you soon, but I want to make you feel as badly about yourself as possible beforehand.
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: Gee, if ever I begin to doubt what a small person that you are, I can just think of this gift.
THE GIFT: A “shared services” center designed by an outside consulting firm for $11 million.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: Faculty who protest this should really just shut-up and teach.
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: Apparently I work at a university that values its employees at the same depth as a Texas Wal-Mart.
THE GIFT: The opportunity to carry flesh, wine, and pine logs through the bitter cold so that I can look like a saint.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: Walk in my footsteps and you will find the winter’s rage freeze thy blood less coldly.
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: You know what would freeze my blood less coldly? If you handed over your ermine cloak, you selfish bastard.
THE GIFT: A blog post after months, or even years, of absence.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: I can still be funny, right?
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: Oh, are you still alive?
THE GIFT: The complete DVD box set of WKRP in Cincinnati.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: Aren’t you nostalgic for the time when AM radio stations played rock’n’roll?
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: What is a radio station?
THE GIFT: The opportunity to guide my sleigh through a blizzard.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: I used to think you were a cruel freak of nature. Now that you have some marginal use to me, I am more than glad to exploit your labor.
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: After tonight, I am converting to Judaism and running away with Hermey, my gay lover.
THE GIFT: A Republican controlled Congress.
WHAT THE GIVER MEANT: I hate America.
WHAT THE RECEIVER THINKS: Looks like I picked the wrong holiday to quit drinking.
Well, on that final cheerful note, I will simply extend my best non-sectarian, non-denominational winter greetings to you all. Enjoy the gifts whatever their hidden meanings.