Weekly Column: Christmas happiness can be yours for only $19.95

©Stephenie Freeman

Grown-up Christmas lists are generally filled with wonderful requests; expensive wishes that we hope to find under the tree or parked in the driveway.  But those aren’t the sorts of gifts that we are encouraged to buy. 

Television commercials are filled with all sorts of junk for sale, especially all of the “As Seen on T.V.” merchandise that seems so popular this time of year.  It’s the stuff no one could possibly want; stuff that no one would want to find under their Christmas tree, in the driveway, or anywhere else for that matter.

And it’s the stuff that sells, and sells, and sells. 

Chia Pets have been around since 1982 and in those 26 years they haven’t changed their commercial one iota.  Why would they when the varieties of Chia animals continue to sell so well?  “Ch-ch-ch -chia!”

There’s also the Clapper.  What a handy little device this invention is, never mind the fact that it can be controlled by barking dogs, coughing, and loud household appliances.  But when your Aunt Pearl hears the jingle, “Clap on (clap, clap) clap off (clap, clap)…” before you know it she’s ordered one for everybody in the family. 

Just pray that you never get a bad cold.  You’ll be up all night turning the lights on and off.

A new one on the market is the Ove Glove.  They look a lot like cheaply knitted gloves that your grandmother bought at the Dollar Store, but claim that they won’t catch fire even if they are exposed to an open flame.  So the next time you pull out your blow torch to sodder something, rest easy.  This “five-fingered mitt” (versus the six-fingered kind) will protect you.

There’s the ShamWow!, a glorified towel that claims to hold 20 times its weight.  I’m not sure what 20 times the weight of a small yellow towel is, but supposedly it’s enough to dry off your car, your boat, and your shaggy dog all at the same time.

That’s pretty impressive, but I wonder how the ShamWow! would hold up against two young boys and a kitchen sink sprayer?  I’d like to be sure that I’m getting my $19.95 worth.    

There is something called a Slanket which is nothing more than a blanket with sleeves.  Why anyone needs a blanket with sleeves is beyond me, but someone somewhere is being kept nice and warm from all the money they’ve made selling thousands of Slankets.  Makes me wonder if someone is out there inventing a pillow with pants?   

But the best “As Seen on T.V.” item that my boys are asking for, and my personal, hands-down favorite, is the Burp Gun.  The Burp Gun does exactly what you think it does:  shoots ping pongs balls while making burp noises “providing hours of uninterrupted fun.”

What mother wouldn’t be fired up to plunk down twenty bucks for that?  I’d pay $100 for some uninterrupted fun, regardless of the bodily function noises. 

I fear that the older I get, the better the chance of finding one of these “As Seen on T.V.” presents under my tree.  It seems that as you age, the harder you become to buy for, hence the need to explore the creative side of gift giving. 

Prime example: trying to buy a gift for your father.  You’re tired of always giving your father a book, or a CD, or a picture of your family, having to sit there and watch him pretend to be excited when he opens it.  So mid-November you start to stress about what to buy for him.  There’s nothing at the mall and online searches have rendered fruitless. 

And suddenly, right there in between “Young and the Restless” and the noon news is a commercial with a fast-talking guy with a mustache wanting to sell you something called the Forearm Forklift.  It dawns on you how handy this would be when you have to move into your new house next month and you realize that it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

These “As Seen on T.V.” items might not be so bad after all.  Someone somewhere is making some good money off of all of this so-called junk.  So, after giving it some thought, I know exactly what I want for Christmas this year.  I want someone to give me an idea for an invention that I could sell on T.V. for $19.95.

Too bad the Burp Gun idea is already taken.       


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