Thank heaven Thanksgiving is over with. Now we can set about channeling all our attention on the one holiday we all wait for each year: Giftmas.

I think it’s admirable that most dealers, manufacturers and advertisers were keeping holly and tinsel out of their promotions until Thanksgiving was out of the way, but more and more one notices Christmas-y looking ads and displays lurking in the background soon after Halloween.

I hadn’t exactly heard Jingle Bells on the tube before Thanksgiving, but I had seen other signs pointing towards the Great American Consumption Orgy: little Santas in the corner of newspaper ads, pine boughs conspicuously in TV commercials, small references to giving and getting in magazine pitches. It’s all there, just chomping at the bit to be released as Grandpa pushes away his plate and retires into the living room for the football game.

Well, the turkey’s gone and so are the pretensions about the de-commercialization of Christmas. Let’s pull out the stops, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead and wallow in the spirit of the season: greed.

Too harsh? Too cynical, you say? Irony does not belong in print? Don’t we all need to eat? How can you attack the free enterprise system?

Yes, perhaps for some, it is too harsh to look at Christmas this way. True, I am cynical, but not just about Christmas, so that makes it alright. No, irony does not belong in print, and I’ll get letters from people who take me seriously. Yes, we do all have to eat, but perhaps not quite so well. And it’s easy to attack the free enterprise system in good fun. I don’t want to scuttle the system, just improve it.

One way to improve the materialistic economic system upon which we are founded and grow is to make it slightly less banal. One way to do that would be to recognize we are being shilled and pressured into purchasing things we neither want or need and for which there is no excuse other than to satisfy our inborn need to buy, buy, buy.

One way to accomplish that would be to refuse to purchase this year’s status appliance. There is a status appliance out every year, and sometimes more than one. Already we are being told that we will be shortchanging our parents if we don’t give them a certain coffee maker for Christmas; these coffee makers are the very items which started the trendy product trend.

Then there were fancy popcorn makers; you know, the kind that for $29.95 allow you to do something you could otherwise do for free on top of your stove. Then there were those single burger makers, which gave you everything a frying pan does except the convenience of washing them clean in water. These little gadgets were scientifically designed to last one year, or until the double burger maker comes to the market, whichever occurs first.

All that aside, this year’s useless gift award goes to an appliance that deserves to take its place alongside notable past winners as the electric can opener and electric knife. This year’s status appliance is, of course, none other than the electric wok.

In the ever-increasing rush to recognize the Red Chinese as being “in,” American technology has taken the electric frying pan and rounded the bottom, packaged in a recipe book of stir-fry dishes and–poof!–instant Christmas.

For a third of the price, you can buy a real wok and a real Chinese or Japanese cookbook and do it right. But, good grief! It’s Giftmas!

Why settle for the real thing when you can wallow in second best?

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