I googled “gift ideas” today and my favorite is the alarm clock pictured above.  Not only does it make a loud sound, but the propeller takes off and flies around your bedroom. The alarm doesn’t stop ringing until the propeller is placed back into position on the clock.  What an annoying gift:  I love you; now get up!

A few years ago I bought my adult sons remote controlled toy cars.  I don’t remember exactly what the competition between these cars was all about—I think you were supposed to hit the other car before it hit you– but if you were losing, you got electrocuted in the hand holding the remote.  Electrocuted may be a little strong.  It was a strong shock.  What amused me is that even though they were yowling about the shocks, they couldn’t stop playing.  I took pleasure in their enjoyment and also in their pain.

The worst gift I gave—and I gave it with such love and devotion—was a dollhouse for my seven-year old son, Charles.  I was fixated with the idea that since he loved playing with GI Joe figures that he would enjoy a dollhouse with a family of wooden people living in it.  It was such a cute cape cod house and I pasted the wooden shingles on the roof myself and spent many happy hours buying furniture.  Maybe I thought Charles and I could play with the dollhouse together?  Another dark Oedipal day in the life of Louise Plummer.

What was I thinking?  And why didn’t Tom blockade this insane decision?  I know why.  I can get so ENTHUSIASTIC about my ideas and overwhelm people within a three-mile radius.  I wanted a dollhouse.  Me.

Charles wouldn’t touch that dollhouse.  Tom took him out the next day and bought him a GI Joe military camp complete with oozies.

One year, Tom and I decided to give each other artistic gifts to save money.  I did an Andy Warhol type portrait of myself wearing John Lennon dark glasses and hand colored it.  He took a black and white photograph of a black rabbit on a table that I love. We both had our works framed, which didn’t save any money at all.  It was one of my favorite Christmases.

When I was seventeen, I wanted a Johnny Mathis album, but I unwrapped a Johnny Cash album.  Not the same.

Last year, I gave one of my sons books of essays by Ian Frazier, because that particular son is a really funny writer, and I thought said son should read another funny writer and be inspired to do more funny writing.  Blah blah blah.  He never opened a book.  Never opened a book.  Puleeze.

So I suppose if I have to tidy this up with NOW WHAT HAVE I LEARNED FROM THIS EXPERIENCE OF CHRISTMAS GIVING AND GETTING?  Give the giver what they want, not what you want.

Of course, I did get my dollhouse.   Send in your own worst/best gifts given or received.