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How about a gift touched by Jesus for Christmas? 2014.12.10

By RICH FOLEY

Maybe it’s too early to be writing about Christmas when all of you have been busy shopping at the after St. Nicholas Day sales. You did celebrate St. Nicholas Day last Saturday, didn’t you? At least one retailer wishes you did.

Last week, I received a Shopko flyer with a page devoted to St. Nicholas Day, explaining it thusly: “Celebrate with your family as children leave their stockings out on the evening of December 5 in hopes of getting it filled with treats and gifts in the morning!”

 According to Wikipedia, in this country, the holiday is mainly celebrated in cities like Milwaukee, Cincinnati and St. Louis, with major German influences. For the rest of us, one gift-giving holiday in December is more than enough.

Shopko’s St. Nicholas specials included candy canes, nuts and that all-time holiday favorite, a 12-pack of Mountain Dew. Or treat the baby to a Huggies Diapers Super Pack. The whole family would have loved the 24-pack of Charmin bath tissue. And Shopko didn’t forget the pets with Purina Dog and Cat Chow both on sale.

I’m sorry I didn’t know about the holiday sooner so I could have given you a reminder, but you now have a year to shop for St. Nicholas Day, 2015. In the meantime, it’s not too late to waste your money on “gifts” for Christmas.

Like, for instance, a Rachael Ray Garbage Bowl, just $19.96 plus tax. That’s right, over $20 for a bowl to put your garbage in as you prepare a meal. Or, for less than the tax on Ms. Ray’s bowl, go to a dollar store and buy a big plastic bowl that can serve the same purpose.

The ad for the bowl features a variety of other items endorsed by Rachael and includes a photo of her hard at work in her kitchen. There’s a wide variety of her pots and pans shown, but no garbage bowl is in sight. Maybe even she’s decided it’s a dumb idea.

If there’s a hunter in your family, perhaps they’d enjoy the latest Segway scooter, or “personal transporter” as  the Segway folks call it, now available in Mossy Oak camouflage and “specifically tuned to navigate off-road terrain including grass, gravel, sand and rocky trails.” Or, maybe they wouldn’t like one. I’m guessing the first critter to spot this monstrosity will laugh loud enough to scare off all of the game within miles.

For fans of the movie “A Christmas Story,” how about a bobble-head figure of The Old Man? Yes, a life-like facsimile of late actor Darren McGavin holding his leg lamp “major award” from the movie. Just $19.97, none of which, I’d guess, goes to McGavin’s estate.

If you know someone who grew up watching The Monkees on television, why not get them a 1/18th scale die-cast model of the Monkeemobile? And hey, hey, it’s on sale! Was $89.97, now just $59.97, Die-cast Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter not included.

For the board game fan and/or bacon-lover on your list, it’s doubtful that they already have a Bacon-Opoly game in their collection. According to the ad, “Roll the dice, earn Pounds of Pork, trade them in for Smokehouses, and start rakin’ in the bacon!” Bring your own lettuce and tomato if you wish.

And finally, there’s the gift alluded to in the headline. The folks at Heartland America are offering what’s commonly called a Widow’s Mite, a bronze Palestinian coin from the time of the New Testament. The price of $19.99 doesn’t seem all that high for a coin of that age, but I’m no expert on coin values. When it comes to hype, however, I know it when I see it.

The headline in the Heartland catalog  says it “may have been touched by Jesus and his apostles!” Really? And it’s under $20? What a steal! And what a new high, or low, for the Heartland catalog.

I was amazed a few years ago when they advertised harmonicas, complete with an “endorsement” from a customer they wanted you to think was Bob Dylan, although they only used Dylan’s initials and real hometown to identify him. Now they’re using Jesus, by name, to hype the coins.

Still, I don’t think I’d buy their widow’s mite without a written certificate of authenticity, signed by Jesus himself. If you’re planning to give one for a Christmas gift, I wouldn’t make the purchase without one.  Remember, the ad says the coin “may” have been touched by Jesus, and, unless you’re extremely gullible, that “may” is pretty unlikely.