2007.12.05 Please don't card me again this Christmas

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

Has everyone finished their Christmas shopping yet? Get with it, folks, there’s just over two weeks to go and you don’t want to end up buying gift cards, do you?

I get a kick out of the publicity that gift cards get this time of year, with sellers offering them as an alleged “perfect” gift. What makes them better than just giving the recipient cash? Very little more thought is involved, and neither is much more effort. You can buy many major name gift cards at pharmacies, gas stations and department stores these days without even having to visit the actual store named on the card.

And unlike cash, you’re allowing the person to buy whatever they want only as long as it’s available at the store in question, they don’t misplace the card and it doesn’t expire before they get around to using it. And what happens to the remainder of the amount on the card?

I’m carrying two gift cards right now. One has 48 cents left, spendable at a national chain pharmacy. The other contains a balance of a whopping 46 cents, ready to blow at a famous discount store. Is it worth going back to buy something else just so I don’t waste such small amounts? Pack of gum, anyone?

Besides, there’s no reason to settle for a mundane gift card when a multitude of stupid gifts are available in all price ranges. Take, for instance, a Major League Baseball casket.

Yes, now you can be buried in a fully-licensed coffin decorated in the colors of your favorite baseball team, complete with team logos. Chicago Cubs fans have waited an eternity for the team to win the World Series, now they can spend eternity in an official Cubs casket, just $3,500. Rather be cremated? No problem, team urns are a bargain $700.

Too morbid? A Toledo company is offering what I’d never think of for a gift idea (not that I’d considered coffins, either). The ad reads, “Hey, guys...Take a tip from Santa. Forget diamonds or a fur coat. Get what she secretly wants and desires.” Sounds good, except the ad is for bathtub reglazing. “Gifts certificates available,” the ad continues. Give one of these to that special woman in your life and you just might need that casket sooner than you thought.

Another retailer is offering gift ideas for various budgets. In the under five dollar category is a set of three storage boxes. Yes, nothing says “I love you” like not one, not two, but three empty boxes.

A different company is offering two canvas shopping bags with the company logo for only five dollars. Perfect for carrying around your empty boxes.

Or why not give someone half a gift? One famous retailer is advertising a twin size airbed or a 12 volt pump, your choice, $10 each. “Here, honey, I couldn’t afford both the bed and the pump, so I just got you the pump.” Yeah, that’ll impress her.

I like how some companies are branching out into new areas. For instance, the Black & Decker firm, long famous for power tools, is now making toasters. I would expect that to be a tough, long-lasting unit, ready to handle any and all industrial toasting needs I might have for many years to come.

But what if manufacturers of “softer” goods resent this encroachment on their territory? Can we expect, for instance,  a Martha Stewart brand chain saw in retaliation next Christmas? Hey, Martha! Don’t forget, it was my idea.

Or how about a prop replica from a decades-old Christmas movie? Remember “A Christmas Story,” in which the late Darren McGavin’s character wins a lamp shaped like a woman’s leg? You don’t? Nonetheless, over 20 years after the movie went to video, a line of merchandise has hit the market, including greeting cards and the lamp in three sizes (as a full size lamp, a smaller tea light holder or a night light). I think I’ll pass.

And since no one bought them last year, the George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton dancing and singing action figures are back. Remember, if you must have one, wait until after Christmas and pick up as many as you want for 75 percent off. They’ll be right next to the Chia Pets.

The more I think about it, the gift card idea isn’t sounding all that bad. But why waste the gas going to a store? Just send me cash, I’ll buy my own stupid gift. They still make The Clapper, don’t they?

  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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