Every Christmas there are bound to be a few disappointments under the tree. Many well-meaning gift givers somehow miscalculate the response of their offerings to loved ones.

One example is my long-time friend Dennis and his first Christmas gift for his wonderful wife.  He thought he was being thoughtful by presenting her with an ironing board.  Is there a better way to say I love you to your new bride? She needed to press her work shirts, yet this practical and thoughtful gift just slightly missed the mark.  She did need it and kept it and this loving Christmas present has been discussed with much joy and laughter at family gatherings for over 38 years. That is a gift that keeps on giving!

Now there are some gifts that need to be returned and as quickly and discreetly as possible. Let’s begin with dry-roasted edamame (fancy soy beans). If you get this in your sock… don’t eat it – just quietly throw it out. I love this healthy and tasty bean when cooked properly (lightly steamed and dusted with sea salt) but whoever thought of dry roasting must have had a hangover.  I hoped to enjoy a hand full and quickly discovered it was like dry, gritty hay and I had to immediately race to get a doctor... Dr. Pepper, that is.  Oh my. The remedy actually took a couple Dr. Peppers to clear the sandy, chalky residue from my teeth.  My advice for if you get a bag of this is to open it, then go to kitchen and dump it out and then come back with it empty, claiming it was wonderful.  Don’t over praise it or you’ll get it again.

Another gift I will wait in line to return is blue jeans with holes in the knees. My daughter wanted me to fit in somehow and spent probably way too much to get me jeans with holes and tears. Not sure where I would wear these, but I get cold in the winters so it won’t be soon.  Whenever I see a girl in the winter with holy pants I wonder how the oncoming frostbite affects the skin on her knees that was sun burned just a few months ago.

I know Grandma wants to give gifts that are thoughtful, but the teens will probably not be thrilled when they open up the gift of safety with “Back Seat Driver” by Philco.  Basically, it is a device installed in the youth’s car that connects with GPS that senses speed and position on roads complete with a kindly grandma voice that says helpful driving tips such as “You are tailgating,” “Watch out for that bike” and the ever popular, “That’s way too fast, Sonny.” 

Now there are some gifts that your child might receive that you will have to make disappear at some point, such as the All Star Mister Microphone.  This hand held amplified microphone will encourage music interest and will delight your 4-6 year old as they belt out any of the seven songs pre-programmed into the mic such as The National Anthem, Cher’s “Gypsies Tramps” and “Thieves,” “Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Tequila” and the latest hit by Billie Eilish, that no matter how much you like it, 20 times an hour should be against the Geneva Convention. 

You may be lucky enough to get the thoughtful gift of a mood ring and if you do, try not to read too much into why you are the only one who got one.  This might be helpful for some folks to tell them when not to go on Facebook to post snarky comments or when not to make a call to a certain relative that could ruin your good mood.  I will return this because constantly reminding me of my mood can put me in a worse mood.

Gift givers mean well, but why the chocolate-covered garlic!? Wow, two great tastes that don’t go well together. Or that new item in the soft drink isle: pickle juice. You can have mine, but just don’t open it inside the house. Finally a trip back to the store is needed to return the portable laugh track, a practical and helpful item if you are trying out a new story or joke on someone, but it can get old, quick.  

The best gifts at Christmas are joy, love and peace, so keep the peace and just secretly return a few items.

Norm Barnhart is a gifted and fortunate fellow who brings comedy entertainment to corporate banquets and family events; he can be found at CleanComedyGuys.com.

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