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It's the Gift Card that Counts

Getting the jump on the Christmas season.

by Dear Jon
November 30, 2004

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Dear Jon,

Recently I read in Dear Jon’s Encyclopedia under "Johns, Glynnis," that she was an actress in "Mary Poppins." I thought Glynnis Johns was the famous record producer who worked on albums such as the Beatles' "Get Back" sessions (later released as "Let It Be') and the Who's "Who's Next." Oh wait, that was Glyn Johns. Are the two related?

Dr. Spin
Dear Spin,
I would think that “Johns” is a silly enough name as to be rare, and therefore, the two might be related. However, I do not know off the top of my head and I definitely do not have time to look it up. If you want to add “Johns, Glyn” to my dictionary, please submit the subject. I will then copy and paste your information about him from this article, and I will get the credit for knowing who he was. The producer for the Beatles and the Who makes Dear Jon’s cut for “everything you need to know.”


Dear Jon

Do you think that reality TV will evolve into theatre productions or will the concept only ever work on TV?

Dear Karen,
Stand up comedy is a form of “reality theatre.” There is a lot of untelevised stand-up comedy where I live, here in Chicago.
Also, game shows in front of live audiences are a form of “reality theatre” which are often  televised but not always. I have a close personal friend who, being brilliant, was on a high school quiz team. The early rounds were not televised. The later, regional rounds were televised—broadcast nationally during prime time, in fact. It was a Canadian thing to do. Debate matches would fit the bill for “reality theatre” too.

Dear Reader,
Unsolicited from any of you, here is some early Christmas advice:
1. You might be the boring auntie, but the fact is, kids these days do not get enough books for Christmas.
2. If your sets of in-laws do not know by now where you are spending Christmas, resolve to spend it with neither of them.
3. If you haven’t purchased your airline travel for this season, stop reading this immediately and surf over to a ticket agent.
4. Soon, wrapped presents will be considered ill-mannered. Gift cards from major outlets and restaurants will be considered more convenient for everyone. Gift cards from major credit companies, allowing maximum flexibility, will become the most coveted gift of all. Retailers will no longer anticipate late November and December to be their prime shopping season. Prime shopping will begin December 26 and last through January as everyone spends their gift certificates. This is because the thought no longer counts. What counts is the stuff.
5. I am predicting everything you read in point 4 not because I am an optimist, but because I am a pessimist. I find the trend disgusting. I also find it convenient. Many of my friends and family will be getting gift cards this year; just be aware that I hate myself for doing it.
6. By the way, you can send your Christmas wishes and gift cards to Dear Jon care of the Webmaster at the Partial Observer. Waldenbooks ®, Barnes and Noble®, and Borders® are my preferred consumer venues. Those of you who know me will probably be shy about actually buying a book—after all, I might have already gotten it myself. It is hard to keep track of what books I already own and what books I have already recycled. So the gift card is the safe bet. Or a gift credit card, of course. That goes without saying. Thank you in advance.
7. Kids, of course, will still get to unwrap books and toys. It is a lot easier to believe that Santa Claus brought you a toy rather than that an elf stamped the swipe-stripe for the gift-card at Wal-Mart®.
8. If you are stressing out this holiday season, stop. There is no effort you can make during the holidays that is worth the burn-out. No one else, and I mean NO one else, has themselves invested in your personal and highly neurotic vision of holiday perfection. The problem is, when you are stressing to make things perfect, you begin to get on the cases of other people who are more laid back about it all. This does not spread Christmas cheer. So, scale back your ambitions on the number of lights and the number of home-made glittered paper mache ornaments. Do not accept absolutely every invitation. Keep your own hosting to an intimate, comfortable group.
9. Christmas as impulse-fulfillment, the finding of that “perfect” toy, is an empty and spoiled experience. Stressed parents compel guilt-based gratitude from their kids, which is no fun for anyone. Santa Claus is nothing like a guilt-tripping parent.  Guilt-tripping parents want to know why the kid is reading auntie’s book about unicorns instead of playing with the special limited edition Nation-Building G.I. Joe® that the kid had thrown a tantrum about back in September at Toys R US® when shopping for a friend’s birthday present, because Mom would not buy it for him as soon as it had caught his eye. Santa Claus understands that children are whimsical by nature and does not hold it against them.
10. When kids are given permission to be flexible and creative by observing healthful models in their parents, they can be remarkably resilient even if their Christmas wish-list is not completed. Christmas as presence, more than presents, as involvement and shared memories, is filled with meaning. Cookies baked from scratch that the kids help decorate, and “whole family” gifts like a DVD player (then each kid can unwrap their own movie as a “stocking stuffer”) and some of the classic board-games (i.e. CLUE® and MONOPOLY®) are going to foster lasting bonds.

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