NPR logo Monitor Mix 2009 Gift Guide!

Monitor Mix 2009 Gift Guide!


As some of you know, in previous years, I've created a "Favorite Things" list during the holiday season. However, Oprah Winfrey, whose "favorites" show inspired my own list-making, decided that she didn't have any favorite things this year. Not to be deterred by a lack of enthusiasm on Winfrey's part, I have decided to carry on with the tradition.

Rumor has it, this recession is nearly over. But how can be true when it was statistically harder for people to land a job at a new Applebee's that opened in the Bronx than it would have been for them to get into Harvard?

So, operating on the assumption that most of you are still clipping coupons, that you haven't bought a new toothbrush or gotten a haircut in more than six months, and that the "check engine" light is now a "feature" on your car, here is my holiday gift guide for 2009.

1. A Car With A Bow.

You know those annoying Lexus commercials intended for rich people who don't care about looking rich, even in today's economy? The ads that depict people walking out to their driveways Christmas morning, only to see a brand new Lexus all wrapped up in a pretty bow?

Why should the fact that you can't afford a Lexus — or any car, for that matter — prevent you from giving one as a gift? Besides, nothing signifies the act of giving more than sticking a bow on something, anything. So this Christmas, head out onto your street or into your neighborhood in the middle of the night and wrap whatever car you wish you could give in a giant red bow. Why stop at one? Wrap five cars, or all of them! Then, in the morning, march your robe-clad loved one out there and surprise him or her with the gift of momentary, fleeting, unobtainable luxury. Take a picture, because that's the one thing they can keep (aside from the bow, of course).

2. An Outlet For Someone's Misguided Good Intentions.

The other week in New York City, I watched a group of people fret over a shivering dog tied up outside a restaurant. Its owner was inside grabbing some food to go. Not only did the dog appear to be cold, but its leash was tangled, as well. At one point, someone went outside and untangled the leash. Then, someone else brought it some water. A third person BROUGHT THE DOG A JACKET! As I watched the spectacle, I wondered whether any of these people would have given up their coats for a homeless person. So, this year, give people who are overly concerned about the welfare of already adopted and well-cared-for pets something to do. Each time you walk your dog, bring along donation envelopes to a charity benefiting the homeless or hungry. Then, when a person gives you unsolicited advice about your animal and the fact that it's not wearing a raincoat, hand him or her the envelope and say, "I am sorry that my dog is not dressed appropriately for the weather. He appreciates your concern. If you'd like to help him, you can donate to this charity in his name. Merry Christmas!"


3. Web Sites.

What says, 'I care about you' more than a link to your favorite Web site? Why give a book when it will likely be resold for grocery money or thrown into the fireplace in order to heat the house? Plus, unlike books, Web sites change and people reread them, so every time the person revisits the site to check for new content, it's like you just gave him or her that present, again. Here's a great Web site: It chronicles fashion highlights from every single episode of Roseanne! I can't even begin to tell you, that is so many gifts wrapped up in one.


4. Catalogs.

I could give a J.Crew or Garnet Hill to every member of my family. And I bet you could, too. Are you the creative type? Use the catalogs to make a collage.


5. Singing.

On Christmas morning, hum a few bars of your favorite melody. Get louder on the second verse to make sure everyone knows this is intentional. Add handclaps and a silly dance. When you're done, take a bow to give people a sense of closure. Walk around the room and shake everyone's hand. As a joke — but not really — offer to sign an autograph. Do an encore after breakfast to really cement your role as the "gifted one" in the family.