I cannot take credit for this wisdom, or even figure out where they came from, so I’ll just post them and get out of the way. Feel free to comment on the wisdom/wrongfulness of these:
Gifts for Children: This is easy. You never have to figure out what to get for children, because they will tell you exactly what they want. They spend months and months researching these kinds of things by watching Saturday-morning cartoon-show advertisements. Make sure you get your children exactly what they ask for, even if you disapprove of their choices. If your child thinks he wants Murderous Bob, the Doll with the Face You Can Rip Right Off, you’d better get it. You may be worried that it might help to encourage your child’s antisocial tendencies, but believe me, you have not seen antisocial tendencies until you’ve seen a child who is convinced that he or she did not get the right gift.
Gifts for Men:Men are amused by almost any idiot thing — that is why professional ice hockey is so popular — so buying gifts for them is easy. But you should never buy them clothes. Men believe they already have all the clothes they will ever need, and new ones make them nervous. For example, your average man has 84 ties, but he wears, at most, only three of them. He has learned, through humiliating trial and error, that if he wears any of the other 81 ties, his wife will probably laugh at him (“You’re not going to wear THAT tie with that suit, are you?”). So he has narrowed it down to three safe ties, and has gone several years without being laughed at. If you give him a new tie, he will pretend to like it, but deep inside he will hate you.
If you want to give a man something practical, consider tires. More than once, I would have gladly traded all the gifts I got for a new set of tires.
Some of you … may have decided that, this year, you’re going to celebrate it the old-fashioned way, with your family sitting around stringing cranberries and exchanging humble, handmade gifts, like on “The Waltons”. Well, you can forget it. If everybody pulled that kind of subversive stunt, the economy would collapse overnight. The government would have to intervene: it would form a cabinet-level Department of Holiday Gift-Giving, which would spend billions and billions of tax dollars to buy Barbie dolls and electronic games, which it would drop on the populace from Air Force jets, killing and maiming thousands. So, for the good of the nation, you should go along with the Holiday Program. This means you should get a large sum of money and go to a mall.
You can always tell the Christmas season is here when you start getting incredibly dense, tinfoil-and-ribbon- wrapped lumps in the mail. Fruitcakes make ideal gifts because the Postal Service has been unable to find a way to damage them. They last forever, largely because nobody ever eats them. In fact, many smart people save the fruitcakes they receive and send them back to the original givers the next year; some fruitcakes have been passed back and forth for hundreds of years.
The easiest way to make a fruitcake is to buy a darkish cake, then pound some old, hard fruit into it with a mallet. Be sure to wear safety glasses.