Rooney: Don't Buy This For Me

Rooney: Don't Buy This For Me
Dec. 5, 2004

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by correspondent Andy Rooney.
I love this time of year - Christmastime - but I dread it, too.

There's so much pressure to get the right present for everyone.

Tonight, I thought I'd help anyone thinking of giving me a present by making a list of things I don't want. These catalogs I got are filled with things I hope no one gives me one of.

Here's a new digital camera I don't want from I don't want a new digital camera, because Keith gave me a digital camera last Christmas, and I haven't learned how to work that one yet. They're making a lot of new, improved, more complicated things before I've learned how to work the one I already have.

You could save $100 on a digital cable TV in another ad. I'll tell you what. I have an idea of what you could give me. Buy the digital cable TV for someone else and give me the $100 you saved.

Here's a $49.94 chair. Looks OK but it says, "assembly required." Please don't give me anything I have to put together.

Here are four watches in the Tiffany catalog. They run from $1,650 to $2,950, so you're lucky I don't want any of these. None of them have numbers on them. Why is it that watches without numbers cost more?

My watch cost me $17 - 20 years ago. I'm often late, but it isn't my watch's fault. I'd have been just as late with a $3,000 Tiffany watch.

Here's a catalog called "Hard To Find Tools." Who wants tools that are hard to find?

Hammacher Schlemmer sells what they call a "name doormat." The one in the catalog has "Smith" on it, but the idea is you get your own name put on it.

That's a bad idea, isn't it? I don't want a doormat with people wiping their feet on my name. Some of the letters I get are bad enough. If someone gave me a doormat for Christmas, I'd rather have one with "Smith" on it instead of "Rooney."

This says "over 90 gift ideas". One of their ideas is a leather wastebasket for $159. A wastebasket is not a Christmas present.

The real trouble with buying a present for someone like me is, if I wanted one, I probably already bought it for myself. But, you know, Merry Christmas. (external - login to view)
That about says it all for me,too.My oldest bought me a Rock and Roll Elmo for me last year!
Paranoid Dot Calm
Jingle Bell Schlock
By Maureen Dowd
December 05, 2004

If I hear "Frosty the Snowman" one more time, I'll rip his frozen face off.

It's a scientific fact, or should be, that Christmas music can turn you into a fruitcake. It either sends you into a Pavlovian shopping trance, buying stupid things like the Robosapien, or, if you hear repeated Clockwork-Orange choruses of "Ring, Christmas Bells" drilling into your brain with that slasher-movie staccato, makes you feel as possessed with Christmas spirit as Norman Bates.

I've never said this out loud before, but I can't stand Christmas.

Everyone in my family loves it except me, and they can't fathom why I get the mullygrubs, as a Southern friend of mine used to call a low-level depression, from Thanksgiving straight through New Year.

"You're weird," my mom says. This from a woman who once left up our Christmas tree until April 3, and who listens to a radio station that plays carols 24/7 all month.

My equally demonic sister has a whole collection of rodents dressed in holiday clothes that she puts up around her house. There's a mouse Santa Claus and mouse Mrs. Claus and mice elves and a miniature Christmas village with mice, and some rat Cinderella coachmen in pink waistcoats and rats in red velvet vests and more rats, wearing frilly red-and-white nightshirts and nightcaps and holding little candles, leading you up the steps to bed. It's beyond creepy. I keep fretting that it's going to be like "Willard" meets "The Nutcracker," where they come alive and eat her like a Christmas pudding.

My mom and sister both blissfully sat through "It's a Wonderful Life" again on Thanksgiving weekend, while even hearing a mere snatch of that movie makes me want to scarf down a fistful of antidepressants - and join all the other women in America who are on a holiday high - except our family doctor is a Scrooge about designer drugs, leaving me to self-medicate as Clarence gets his wings with extra brandy in the eggnog.

I've given a lot of thought to why others' season of joy is my season of doom - besides the obvious fact that yuppies have drenched the holidays in ever more absurd levels of consumerism.

I think it has to do with how stressed out my mom and sister would get on Christmas Day when I was little. I remember them snapping at me; they seemed tense because of all the aprons to be sashed and potatoes to be mashed. (In our traditional Irish household, women slaved and men were waited on.)

It might be exacerbated by the stress I feel when I think of all the money I've spent on lavishing boyfriends with presents over the years, guys who are now living with other women who are enjoying my lovingly picked out presents which I'm no doubt still paying for in credit card interest charges.

I was embracing my Christmas black dog the other day when I read a Times article so scary it made my hair - and my genes - curl.

It was about how severe stress can make a woman age very rapidly and prematurely, looking years older than her chronological age, because the stress causes the DNA in our cells to shrink, and sort of curl down on itself, until the cells can no longer replicate. "When people are under stress they look haggard, it's like they age before your eyes, and here's something going on at a molecular level" that reflects that impression, said one of the researchers, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn of the University of California at San Francisco.

So now, on top of all the stress related to having a president and vice president who scared us to death about terrorists to get re-elected, I have to be stressed about the fact that my holiday stress might cause me to turn into an old bat - instantly, just like it happened in Grimm's fairy tales, when a girl would be cursed and suddenly become a crone. Or just like this Christmas doll my sister brought home once that had an apple for a head; her face looked all juicy and white at the start of the week and then by the end of the week, it was all discolored and puckered.

I flipped through the hot new self-help book by Gordon Livingston, a psychiatrist from Columbia, Md., "Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now."

One of them is the cardinal rule of anxiety: Avoidance makes it worse; confrontation gradually improves it.

Yep. I definitely need to rip Frosty's face off. (external - login to view)
Good one, Calm. Thanks for sharing.
Love it, Calm!! I

The whole Christmas thing is the same for me every single year. I start out excited about it ... I do like the pretty lights, I love elaborately wrapping gifts and I definitely adore eating shortbread until I need a Gravol. But my excitement turns quickly to anxiety.

As much as I adore shopping, the consumerism drives me nuts. Not to mention trying to decide who I have to buy for as opposed to who I want to buy for. And the icing on the whole thing is family. Gawd deliver me.

My family is certifiably insane. Every last one of them. Somehow Christmas just seems to exacerbate the lunacy. Crushed under the weight of their expectations, I generally try to put out the worst of the fires and lie my way through the rest. Christmas is the only time I can comfortably be economical with the truth -- usually I just tell the truth and don't concern myself with other's expectations. Why is it that Christmas derails that moral high ground???

My partner and I buy little gifts for one another throughout the entire year so Christmas isn't some important act of giving one another anything material. Neither of us is materialistic anyway, so the stuff doesn't matter.

I do like the look of a nicely decorated tree with a pile of prettily wrapped presents underneath since it takes me back to my childhood when material items were scarce and Christmas was a time when we usually got that one toy we really, really wanted all year long. We didn't have a lot of money growing up so the material side was a big deal. But going to all that work and effort to appease some childhood hangover hardly seems worth it.

Thankfully this year we are still getting settled into our new home and have little time left for the Christmas frenzy. We will be able to restrict ourselves to purchasing a few gifts for the people we actually want to buy something for (family gets money orders this year), we're skipping the tree and our only concession to our own Christmas tradition is perogies and shortbread. We each cook our specialty in bulk and share with our friends. It's very simple. If I get overly ambitious I might put up a few Christmas lights since I do like them but it's all a matter of doing what I want to for once. Perhaps this year will be the blueprint for Christmases to come ... maybe we'll just start doing what we want to do. Wouldn't that throw a monkey wrench into the family madness machine?

I enjoyed the article. There's always a comfort in hearing others feel the same way I do about things. Thanks Calm.

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