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I told you this last Christmas, but I need to repeat it as you obviously weren't paying attention. I'd prefer no gifts. Sincerely. The postal authorities are already giving me a hard time about having to put on the extra delivery truck. And frankly we're running out of room to store the packages that caution against opening them before Dec. 25.
It's not that I don't appreciate your thinking of me; I do appreciate that. It's not that I've enlisted on the wrong side in the War on Christmas and oppose gift-giving and gift-getting altogether as deriving from the story of the Three Wise Men, which of course has been declared unconstitutional, along with manger scenes, shepherds abiding their fields by night, Frosty and Rudolf, and I guess you've heard that President Obama scheduled his big Afghanistan speech so it would pre-empt the showing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” — surely a true fact unless you think it possible that a small-town Tennessee mayor would lie or could be duped.
It's not that I don't like the kind of gifts you customarily send. To the contrary, to cite just a couple of examples, the dinosaur coprolite paperweight was very thoughtful, quite the conversation piece, as was the vulgar bathtub plug called the “Dick Chainey,” though explaining the paronomasial aspect of that one to grandchildren of mixed gender and impressionable age on Christmas morning occasioned a few minutes' interruption of the Noel mirth that usually attends the ceremonial unstuffing of our stockings.
And it's not that I'm opposed in principle to the idea of you little people bestowing big gifts on us big-shot opinion-makers, especially us titans of the trade, in the far-fetched hope of somewhere down the road being able to sway us on a partisan question, or lobby us if you want to look at it that way, or bribe us if you want to be crass about it.
No, I might be persuaded in the direction of a different slant, or take, if you Christmased a full-blown yacht on me, or my own private island like Gilligan's or Tom Hanks' or Jackie O's, or a lifetime supply of cups of hot coffee from McDonalds like Cosmo Kramer won in the settlement of his burnt-tongue lawsuit.
But I couldn't be bought for a canvassed ham, as the Arkansas legislature once was, or for a niblet from a Jennings Osborne pastry tray, or for an ad-agency sent-over fruitjar of genuwine grandpappy kickapoo. I might cave for a platter of old-time apricot fried pies, but there'd have to be at least a dozen of them on there.
And one more disclaimer: It also isn't just that I want to be as opposite as possible from the Bro. Kenneth Copeland types who not only expect lavish gifts but demand them in the name of the Birthday Boy — checks made out to them personally, if you please, and there'd better be an impressive number of zeroes on there, unless you're wanting to tempt the hell that yawns for seasonal short-shrifters and collection-plate-bottom thumpers.
The long and short of it: Give it to someone who needs it more than I do, or spend the money on yourself. You deserve it and I don't.
But I know how it is with celebrity worship when Christmas rolls around, and if you just have to, I guess the least I can do is open what you send, and maybe regift what I don't return of the unkeepables. I only ask that you follow a few gift-giving guidelines endorsed by the American Society of Superfluous Gift-Giving and listed below.
Please don't send gifts that tick. Especially if it's an ominous ticking.
Please don't send baked goods that contain powdered sugar, which I have no way of knowing isn't anthrax except by tasting it and I keep thinking my luck's going to run out using that approach.
Please don't send merchandise recommended by the loud dead guy. Nothing against the products he continues as a zombie to shout the praises of, but, hey, this is the season to celebrate newborns, not the recently croaked.
For essentially the same reason, please don't send any more Jack LaLanne Power Juicers.
Please don't send gift cards. Ask yourself what would've happened if gift cards had been available to the Wee Three Kings of Orientar.
Please don't send any more CDs of Billy Bob Thornton caterwauling. Pretty sure I have them all already.
Nor any more Zuni Indian stone beaver carvings, though I know Zuni stone beaver carvers are having a hard time of it too.
Nor anything related to teen-ager vampires.
Nor additional boxcars of wooden spindles.
Nor battery-powered devices that have a battery case that's kept together by one of those teeniny Phillips-head screws that I always lose or that falls down into and destroys the garbage disposer or that one of my pet magpies snatches up and swallows for use in craw-grinding unpopped popcorn kernels or that winds up embedded about an inch deep in the ball of my foot the first time I go chasing Sweetie around the music room with the thought of letting her catch me by the organ.
Still don't need your unfixed strays.
And for the love of God, no more deer jerky.
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.
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