It's fair to say that, by and large, Science Fiction has totally lied to us about what the future held for us. We were promised flying cars and hover boards by 2015 (Back To The Future), humanoid robots to do all our dirty work for us by 2019 (Blade Runner among others) and all sorts of gadgets like portable devices we could be handed to sign off work rosters...no wait, Star Trek actually did predict that one.
But the one thing I think we can all guarantee in the not so distant personal future is that moment on Christmas Day when we receive a well intentioned gift and we smile cheerfully in the hope that INSERT BELOVED RELATIVE HERE won't notice as the words "Charity Shop" flash across our brains. Typical such presents include:
#1: The Tacky Thing
The tacky thing varies from person to person but must consist of one or all of the following: 1 - ceramic oddly shaped serving bowl that due to it's depiction of cheerful reindeer can only be brought out a) at Christmas and b) when not serving venison. 2 - Festive attire: either a jumper, scarf, hat or tie that has pictures of Christmas and, preferably, plays "jingle bells" at a note on the chromatic scale that had previously been undiscovered.
#2: The Pot Plant
Now this is a tricky one, because unlike The Tacky Thing which has clearly been bought either a) by someone who doesn't really know you or b) is trying to foist their own Christmas fixation onto you - the pot plant person has decided that a plant will Cheer A House Up and add some much needed greenery. But despite all their well meant intentions what they have given you is not so much a present as a problem.
Plants don't traditionally do well for me - I have been known to kill off supposedly indestructible plants by mere dint of a) placing them in the wrong degree of sunlight or b) just plain forgetting to water them/stop watering them at the right times. The one exception to this at time of writing is a pot plant I bought home from the office when we moved to another site - it had survived routinely being forgotten about there and so has thrived on the same basis ever since (the plant is called Florence by the way - for reasons that are unclear to me now)
#3: The Lottery Ticket
We've all done it - forgotten about someone and, at the last minute, gone out and bought them a lottery ticket in the hope that they will a) win the lottery and b) not forget their kind relative/friend when they do and quietly slide a Mercedes or two in our direction - but the chances are extremely high that what you have just given to this person, a person you presumably care enough about to buy them something, a worthless piece of paper. And should it turn out that you have actually bought them some winning numbers you will, of course, kick yourself for all eternity that you didn't keep it for yourself when you get that postcard from Barbados
#4: The Thing With Cats On It
A few years ago you went out and, on a whim, bought an amusing thing with a cat on (or insert whatever thing it actually was). People came to visit and remarked on it and you said, in a generalistic way, that yes indeed: you had a passing fondness for cats: and now of course everyone buys you cat trinkets and somehow you are a collector of such things who rues the day you ever passed the shop where you bought that first item that led to your house being festooned with cats playing banjos, cats smoking cigars over a game of cards, cat toilet roll holders - because everyone who knows you knows you are a cat person despite the amount of protestations that actually you'd rather have anything else but another porcelain figurine of a cat ballerina
#5: The "Hilarious" Calendar
I never buy a calendar until January. Not only can you get it for half the price even though you've only lost about five days of useage but you can always guarantee that at least three well meaning relatives and/or friends will buy you one - one that you will not like but will inevitably be stuck with. Last year's calendar pretty much sets the bar for these - it was a collection of satirical newspaper "cartoons" from a newspaper I never read about articles that had been in the news the previous year!!!!!
I would say that I have never, in my entire life, seen a funny political cartoon in a Newspaper, but that would be a lie as I have seen precisely one: a cartoon of George Bush and Tony Blair as Laurel & Hardy and even that only raised a faint smile.
There's a curious curve in the diagram of sock appreciation. If you get given a pair of socks as a kid then you have probably been bad or something and will spend the rest of the day grumping and complaining that at least they could have been fitted with bluetooth - whereas as you get older socks become an increasingly attractive present to replace the other pairs that somehow never seem to be to hand when you need them (or to foot for that matter)
#7: Adopting An Animal For Someone
Actually quite a good idea in some ways, because it's charitable and it helps the animal - but at the end of the day you never actually get to enjoy the animal itself (and even if you did it would probably destroy your house and eat your cat) - but the weird thing is that part of adopting your animal is that you get letters and photos "from" the animal telling you how well it is doing and encouraging you to donate more - it's sort of charity by proxy: the recipient hasn't actually lifted a finger to help Save The Whelk (a struggling creature now that more people are flying than travelling by sea) but gets to feel good about themselves nonetheless
I'm sure there's plenty more of these presents of this ilk, perhaps you would like to add a few yourself? Well, anyway have a good one and meanwhile here's a little present from me: