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Ten Christmas Gripes

December 26, 2010

I love Christmastime. I love the spirit of Christmas. Both the religious and consumer aspects of the holiday. I love to watch my children tear through their presents. I don’t mind ripping into a few of my own. In spite of all the great things about Christmas, there are a few complaints that I need to get off my chest.

1. Packaging. I hate the way things are packaged. Opening a toy is a challenge of digit dexterity only accomplished by a banjo player. And while the twist ties all over the back and bottom of the packaging are infuriating, the overly tightened zip ties are worse because they make it impossible to get a pair of scissors in the loop to make the cut. The worst of the packaging demons is the hard clear plastic casing that so many manufacturers use. I never know where to cut the packaging, and I’m sure I’ll cut the product as I attempt to free it from captivity. There seems to be an opportunity in the incarceration business for plastic of this type.

2. Some Assembly Required. This is why so many manufacturing jobs are leaving the country. All the manufacturers have to do now is design the product and put most of the necessary parts in the box with an Allen wrench. I say most of the parts because I usually have to go back to the store or online or make a phone call to get that final hex head screw that no hardware store in their right mind would stock. I can already imagine a business like the Geek Squad going around on Christmas Eve assembling bikes, beds, and Bingo ball rollers.

3. Age Restrictions. If you are old enough to own an iPod, you are old enough to have an account in your own name. Why do they make us lie about the age of our children? I bought my daughter an iPod. I decided she is old enough to use this little machine, so as her parent I am also deciding she is old enough to have the account in her name.

4. Batteries not Included. In this time, doesn’t it seem odd that anything that requires batteries doesn’t come with a rechargeable battery included? My video camera, digital camera, computer, cell phone, toothbrush, and hair trimmer all come with rechargeable batteries. Why can’t everything? While battery technology has a long way to go, it seems crazy that most if not all electronics don’t have some sort of rechargeable system. Apparently, Duracell and Energizer have a very strong lobby fighting this.

5. Lack of Sleep. Am I the only one who stay up till two or three in the morning only to get up three hours later at six to start opening presents?  I doubt it.

6. Broken Parts. Every year there is at least one toy that doesn’t work straight out of the box. There also seems to be at least one toy that is broken just getting it out of the box (see Packaging).

7. Macy’s Store Coupons. I’m not sure I’ve ever found an item at Macy’s for which a coupon works. Have you seen those exclusions? I usually just walk to the counter with my item and my coupon and say, “I have no idea whether this coupon applies… in fact, I’m pretty it doesn’t because I’ve never had any luck in the past. Actually, my odds are better with the lottery… You know what? Never mind. Don’t even check on the coupon. I don’t think I can take the disappointment.” Seriously, I just ignore all of Macy’s coupons now. Michael’s coupons are about the same. On the other hand Kohl’s coupons work every time. I wish they had something I wanted to buy.

8. The Let Down. Have you ever expected a gift and then not received it? What about the gift that is something you’ll never use but know you can’t return? I remember as a kid always having some moment of feeling disappointed. We spend a month hyping the gift giving and receiving process so much that it’s impossible for kids to not feel some disappointment. It’s just natural. That’s why I spend all December telling my kids they won’t get anything they want on Christmas day. You can see how that sets them up.

9. Returns. I don’t particularly enjoy all the chaos at the malls during Christmas, but the returns process can be just as bad. However in recent years, it seems that the stores have improved this process. In the past, before the advances in computer systems, I would show up with a return and no receipt and the store employee would act like I was trying to return The Black Death (“It’s not my size.”). Now things are better with gift receipts but still unpleasant. I prefer to let my wife take on that task.

10. The Day After. Ultimately, there’s something about that feeling of “only 364 shopping days left.” While I should be able relax and enjoy some of my gifts, I usually feel a bit down. It’s probably related to the 25 plus days of hype leading up to the big day and then POOF, it’s over and done… and knowing I have to go back to work.

I also have issues with fake looking Santas, TV Christmas specials starring Shrek, and the term “happy holidays,” but the first ten were enough for now.

And, wow, I feel a lot better getting that off my chest. How about you? Is there anything that puts a little damper on the season? It helps to get it out. Once you do, you can return to enjoying the spirit of the season. Ho, ho, ho!

3 Responses to Ten Christmas Gripes

  1. Steve Hill on December 27, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    I know it depends on your plans, but I definitely think TSA could make that list.

  2. Jackodile on December 27, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Yes! Fortunately, traveling (especially by plane) is not on my list of activities.

  3. Elisabeth VarnHagen Lugar on December 29, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    #2 I can see it now…”Santa’s Elves for the Christmas Challenged.” 3 people dressed as elves come in at 10pm Dec. 24th (or the day you’ve arranged for Santa to come if you are traveling) and unpackage and assemble all the toys, chairs, etc. for the people in the family. Wouldn’t this be great? You could actually go to sleep, and it would really be like Santa had come for you too. Better yet, just give Santa and the elves your list Nov. 15th and let them buy all the presents and show up on Dec. 24th.

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